Run-heavy plan works again, but John Fox will need Mitch Trubisky soon
Consider a pass . . . but still run.
Welcome to Chicago Bears football in 2017.
In an era of high-priced quarterbacks and pass-heavy offenses, coach John Fox’s offensive philosophy — even with second overall pick Mitch Trubisky — involves going back in time to win.
The Bears’ run-all-day approach has worked the last two weeks. Fox gladly will tell you that after -securing his first two-game winning streak since 2015.
Trubisky attempted only seven passes against the Panthers, but the Bears still prevailed 17-3 on Sunday at Soldier Field.
“This is a team game,” Fox said. “Sometimes it’s going to be one-sided in one way or another. I’ve seen that before. But at the end of the day, you have smiling faces in the locker room. They fought hard for that victory.”
The Bears want to protect Trubisky, and every player is seemingly for it.
“He’s got a lot of room to grow,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “But he’s headed in the right direction. They keep protecting him and letting him get better and better — he’s going to be great, man.
“If we keep stacking these wins, it’s going to add to that, too. We’re going to do our job to push him along.”
That’s a common message in the locker room. It’s not exactly a reflection of Trubisky’s development, but it’s a positive one, nonetheless. The Bears know they’re trying to win while Trubisky develops.
For Fox, that means Trubisky must manage games. Making two impressive, on-the-move throws against the Ravens didn’t change that approach. First and foremost, Trubisky needs to be mindful of the risks he takes.
Asked what he learned about Trubisky against the Panthers, Fox said that he “managed the game pretty well.” In other words, Trubisky has more to prove.
The question is: When will Fox give Trubisky the chance?
Regardless of how special the defense is, the offense eventually will need to produce more than the 153 yards on 37 plays it had against the Panthers. It’s irrational to think otherwise.
There is a reason why rookie safety Eddie Jackson is the first player in NFL history to score multiple defensive return touchdowns of 75 yards or more in the same game.
In the Bears’ victories against the Ravens and Panthers, the defense outscored the offenses they stopped three touchdowns to none.
But that won’t happen every week. At some point, Fox must remove the training wheels from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains’ game plans for Trubisky.
The rookie either will force Fox to do it through his progress or an opponent will do it. It’s in the Bears’ best interests that the latter doesn’t happen.
The Bears’ backs have carried the ball 71 times in their consecutive wins, while Trubisky has attempted 23 passes.
Trubisky said he played -“really poor” after completing 4 of 7 passes for 107 yards. It was an overly harsh assessment. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was the one who had three turnovers.
But there were plays for Trubisky to learn from. On third-and-seven from the Panthers’ 25, Trubisky took a sack for a nine-yard loss to close the first quarter.
Kicker Connor Barth’s ensuing 52-yard field-goal attempt went off the crossbar. It also was tipped by Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short.
Trubisky was sacked four times. His best throw was a 70-yard completion to rookie back Tarik Cohen, though he felt his pass was underthrown.
“If I could’ve led him a little more, he could’ve walked into the end zone,” he said.
Three plays later, Trubisky initially scored on a two-yard run, but it was overturned. His dive at the pylon was short.
“It was a bit disappointing,” Trubisky said.
But the win wasn’t.
“I was just trying to play smart, protect the football and get out of here with the win,” Trubisky said.
In the end, the plan worked.
But for how long will it work?
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.