Film Study: Five takeaways from the Bears’ 41-9 rout of the Bills
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Let’s start with Mitch Trubisky’s bad plays from the Bears’ blowout of the Bills.
No. 1: He had two chances to throw the ball away in the first quarter Sunday on the third-and-five from the Bills’ 32 that ended with him fumbling, putting the Bears out of field-goal range.
“He didn’t have much,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “The only thing we tell him there is just ball security.”
No. 2: In the third quarter, Trubisky threw over tight end Trey Burton, who was wide open cutting through zone coverage. The pass — reminiscent of other overthrows from previous games — was intercepted by cornerback Tre’Davious White.
“It literally just sailed on him,” Nagy said.
But Trubisky didn’t have a bad game. Nagy wants plays that Trubisky can build on, and he delivered some on the road against a formidable defense.
Here are five takeaways after watching the film of the Bears’ 41-9 victory:
Some third-down success
Other than the early fumble, Trubisky had a strong start when it came to third-down throws:
* On third-and-10 from the Bears’ 44 at 12:55 in the first quarter, Trubisky eluded pressure, stepped up with his eyes down the field and completed a 19-yard pass to receiver Anthony Miller between two defenders.
* On third-and-seven from the Bears’ 20 at 5:29 in the first quarter, he completed a 22-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel. On a similar route against zone coverage earlier this season, Trubisky overthrew the ball.
* On third-and-15 from the Bills’ 42 to open the second quarter, Trubisky completed a 26-yard pass to tight end Trey Burton in front of safety Jordan Poyer.
“That was the best throw of the game for him,” Nagy said. “That was an all-arm throw. He just completely used his arm and wrist and made a hell of an accurate throw — with guys in his face — and it was beautiful accuracy.”
That pass to Burton was Trubisky’s fifth completion in his first seven attempts. He had 82 passing yards and a 110.4 passer rating at that point.
But after that, the Bears didn’t convert another third down.
“It was a weird game offensively for us, for just different reasons,” Nagy said.
A trick to going deep
First, a flashback: On Aug. 18 in a preseason game against the Broncos, Trubisky threw a deep ball to receiver Kevin White. It turned into a jump ball that drew a defensive pass-interference penalty and gave the Bears a 37-yard gain.
“Sometimes it’s great to put it out there 10 yards in front of him and let him go get it,” Nagy said at the time. “But it’s also not bad at times to throw it short, if the receiver’s good enough, like Kevin was, to go back after the ball. Nine times out of 10, it’s going to be a PI.”
In the second half against the Bills, Trubisky threw deep to Gabriel and Miller, drawing penalties on cornerback Phillip Gaines for 90 yards.
“He chucked it, put it deep, and Taylor’s got a lot of speed, and you could see Philip Gaines just jumped on top of him and was going to take the penalty,” Nagy said. “Loved that.
“The second one to Anthony [was] slightly underthrown, but sometimes those are the best ones. And I thought Anthony did a great job of trying to fight to get back to it, and inevitably, that’s why the DPI was called.”
Smith really going places
Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith missed an early one-on-one tackle on running back LeSean McCoy and had some issues in coverage, including on a 26-yard reception by tight end Jason Croom on third down.
But Smith was all over the field and led the Bears with 13 tackles, including 11 solo.
“He had a bunch of tackles, but you just see the energy,” Nagy said. “He flies around. He’s very instinctual. And it’s what we saw at Georgia.”
Safety Eddie Jackson’s 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown wouldn’t have happened without Smith, who blitzed on the play, then stopped, turned and ran after Croom, who was held up in the flat by Jackson. Smith’s hit on Croom helped jar the ball loose.
Keeping ’em guessing
Yes, that was Jackson briefly playing on offense in the third quarter. Just before the snap on second-and-11 from the Bills’ 14, he moved from the left slot into the backfield, then ran around running back Tarik Cohen.
Jackson was essentially a decoy for Trubisky to pitch to Cohen for a three-yard gain. But it’s another look for opposing defenses to remember after the Bears successfully used backup quarterback Chase Daniel for a fake handoff as part of the “Willy Wonka” play earlier this season.
“Just a little fun,” Nagy said. “We’ll see where it goes. But I know one thing: [Jackson] was excited as hell when he found out he was going in there.”
The play was installed last week. Is there a version where Jackson gets the ball?
“Not yet,” said Jackson, who returned punts at Alabama. “But I hope it’s coming.”
Here comes Daniels
Running back Jordan Howard wouldn’t have had his chance to run over Poyer and score in the second quarter without a trap block from rookie guard James Daniels on six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams.
“[Williams is] an upfield guy, so that was good,” offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. “James actually tripped. What happened to him was that [Williams] was so far upfield that he went to adjust, and that’s when he lost his footing. Normally, you trap into the line [because] the guy is right there. But he was so far up that he kind just threw his body at him. It didn’t look real good, but he got the job done.”