Mitch Trubisky’s footwork not the Bears’ only fundamental issue

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Bears running back Jordan Howard (getting tackled by Eagles cornerback Corey Graham) rushed for six yards on seven carries against the Eagles last week. (Chris Szagola/AP)

The microanalysis of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky is in full swing as the Bears enter the final month of a dreadful 2017 season.

Whether it’s his fundamentals, mechanics, footwork or accuracy, Trubisky is being picked apart as we search for signs that he is going to be the franchise quarterback the Bears envisioned when they swapped first-round picks with the 49ers and sent them three more selections to choose him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

While it’s all that’s left to do at this point — and signs of progress are important — it’s a little overdone in the big picture. No matter what Trubisky does or how he looks in the final five games this season, his biggest improvement will come in the offseason, when the Bears fortify their receiving corps and presumably have a new coaching staff hired with the intent of nurturing Trubisky.

While Trubisky is the focus of the last month of the season, the Bears’ debacle against the Eagles exposed another area of concern that will affect his development in 2018: their hot-and-cold running game. The Bears were embarrassed in the run game by the Eagles’ defensive front. Jordan Howard (seven carries, six yards) and Tarik Cohen (two carries, minus-11 yards) combined for minus-5 yards on nine carries.


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This was a strength-against-strength matchup: The Bears entered the game ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing offense and the Eagles first in rushing defense — and it was a mismatch. You can’t just chalk it up to a matchup against the best. The Eagles’ run defense is excellent but not impregnable. The previous week, the Cowboys — without All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott and All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith — rushed for 112 yards on 27 carries against the same defense.

That’s actually a bigger problem for the Bears than Trubisky’s mechanics.

‘‘Their defense is very good, but I would also say it was one of our lackluster performances, myself included,’’ Bears guard Kyle Long said. ‘‘At a certain point, you have to start questioning yourself as a player. And I know every guy has had an opportunity to reflect on that game. . . . We have our plates full this week, as well, as an offensive line. [The 49ers’] defensive front is very formidable.

‘‘But it’s one of those things where you have to get back to what you know how to do and do the little things well. That’s what separates the good teams from bad teams and the great teams from good teams.’’

The inconsistency in the run game is as big an indictment of the Bears this season as any other facet because it should be one of their strengths. A week before the game against the Eagles, they rushed for 222 yards against the Lions. The week before that, they rushed for 55 yards against the Packers.

In fact, their week-to-week fluctuations in the run game since the season opener are symptomatic of an unstable patient: down 105, up 202, down 119, up 12, up 116, down 163, up 89, down 102, up 167 and down 216.

The Bears took what the Eagles gave them in the run game and still came up empty.

‘‘They play that wide-9 that boxes everything in,’’ offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. ‘‘Our plan was to run the ball inside, hit them with some whams [and] trap the three-technique, and we didn’t do a good enough job of executing it.’’

The 49ers rank 30th against the run (though 10th in yards per carry). How the Bears attack them might be worth watching even more than Trubisky’s footwork.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.


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