Bears’ defense makes Mitch Trubisky’s rough night immaterial in big win
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Three questions needed answering Sunday night:
1) Was Mitch Trubisky’s shoulder sufficiently healed to allow him to throw every pass he needed to throw against the Rams?
2) Would he scale back on running the ball, which had led to that shoulder injury and caused him to miss the previous two games?
3) Whose idea was it to sound an air-raid siren at Soldier Field before every offensive play by the Rams?
Answers: 1) Yes, sometimes unfortunately 2) Not even close 3) Somebody who really, really doesn’t like us.
Oh, and one other question: Do the Bears even need an offense?
Their defense was so dominant Sunday that everything else seemed beside the point. Just ask the Rams’ Jared Goff, who came into the game as one of the best quarterbacks in the league and left hollow, shaken and possibly in need of reconstructive surgery on his self-esteem.
And just ask the Rams, who arrived with an 11-1 record and left with their loss total doubled, thanks to the Bears’ 15-6 victory.
What a crazy night. Trubisky threw three interceptions, and none of them really mattered, not with the way his defensive teammates played. Whether his rough night was a result of rust or something more profound is open to debate, if you’re even in the mood for one. Did I mention that the Bears raised their record to 9-4?
“It wasn’t his best game, but like I told him, ‘Who cares?’ ’’ coach Matt Nagy said.
Exactly. The Bears ran a trick play called Santa’s Sleigh that featured a lot of large, jolly men. It resulted in a touchdown. That’s what people are talking about. Nobody is talking about anything Grinch-related.
“I’m pretty disappointed in myself, the way I played, especially being out two weeks,’’ Trubisky said. “But it’s hard to be down with such a big win like that. You’ve just got to put your own selfish thoughts about how you played aside. Because that is selfish. … I was still in the locker room dancing with the guys, celebrating a big win. Hugs all around.’’
Trubisky was hurt Nov. 18 on a late hit by Vikings safety Harrison Smith following a run. It wasn’t a fluke injury. A quarterback is at risk of getting crushed, within the rules and outside of them, every time he tucks the ball under his arm and takes off.
To flee or not to flee?
He scrambled on the Bears’ very first play, picked up nine yards, slid feet-first and, most importantly, didn’t suffer an injury. He scrambled again on the fifth play of the game, picking up 13 yards and again making like Tim Raines.
So, if you thought he was going to spontaneously evolve into a tree stump after his injury, well, no.
He had a designed run later in the quarter, which is the definition of tempting fate. Running because no one is open and defenders are breathing down your neck is one thing. Running because your coach wants you to run is another thing. A risky thing.
That, of course, is the quandary. Protecting the quarterback is Job No. 1, especially if he’s coming off an injury. But what if running is what the quarterback does best?
Trubisky had a rough night throwing the ball. He had three bad picks, overthrowing Josh Bellamy in the first quarter, underthrowing Taylor Gabriel near halftime and throwing one right to a wide-open John Johnson in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Bears, Johnson plays safety for the Rams.
Trubisky finished 16-for-30 for 110 yards, a touchdown and a career-low passer rating of 33.3. And he was better than Goff, who threw four interceptions and had a passer rating of 19.1.
If you came to Soldier Field to learn about quarterbacking, you left feeling very ripped off.
There was enough good to make it immaterial. Trubisky threw a two-yard touchdown pass to offensive lineman Bradley Sowell in the third quarter. What, you thought he was going to hand it off to 332-pound defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who was lined up at running back? You had every reason to think that, which was the whole idea. As we’ve found out, Nagy’s trickeration comes in all shapes, sizes and direction. The play was called Santa’s Sleigh because of course it was.
“We like that stuff,’’ Nagy said.
What did Sunday tell us about Trubisky? There was no definitive answer. There was one for the Bears’ decision to use an air-raid siren in an attempt to pump up the crowd and intimidate the Rams’ offense throughout the game: Stop that. If the idea was to make observers want to jam drumsticks in their ears, it worked.
The Bears’ defense did a terrific job of shutting down Goff. I’d like to think that was because of Khalil Mack & Co., not the ghost of Chicago fire commissioner Robert Quinn, who celebrated the White Sox’ 1959 pennant by ordering the sounding of air-raid sirens, spooking an entire city.
“Wow,’’ Nagy said of the Bears defense, and he was right.
A crazy night. And a good one — as long as you weren’t a Ram or a quarterback.