I asked in a post before the Bears’ Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions what a 6-6 record would feel like to you.
The Bears beat the Lions Thursday afternoon and evened up their record on the season, allowing each of us the chance to feel what we had anticipated.
And here’s what it feels like to me. With a nod to my favorite Disney movie, The Lion King, the Bears’ 6-6 record feels “slimy, yet satisfying.”
Bears defense got sliced up by third-string quarterback David Blough
I tweeted about midway through the first quarter just how confounding the Bears’ defensive performance had been.
— BearsBeat.com (@bearsbeat) November 28, 2019
Blough led the Lions on touchdown drives in the team’s first two offensive possessions. The first was a 3-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, basically consisting of just one successful play: a 75-yard bomb to Kenny Golladay.
Although broken coverage is disconcerting, it pales in comparison to a systematic dissection. But that’s exactly what happened on the Lions’ second drive.
Blough completed passes of 19, 29, and 8 yards while tossing his second touchdown pass of the game. To say the Bears — and their fans — were a little surprised would be an understatement.
How fitting that Blough’s last name sounds like a puking noise, because that’s exactly what would have happened if I had already eaten my Thanksgiving dinner.
The defense buckled down after that and forced five punts and two field goals on the next seven possessions — excluding the two-play drive at the end of the first half. But the 20 points the defense allowed, which exceeded their season average, forced the Bears’ offense to step up.
And that’s exactly what they did.
Trubisky makes incremental progress — again
Any Bears observer would be a liar to deny that quarterback Mitch Trubisky has made incremental progress in the Bears’ past four weeks. (Now, if you want to argue that it has been against three subpar opponents, that’s your prerogative.)
Trubisky’s passing yardage has gone from 173 to 190 to 278 to 338 in successive weeks. He’s thrown eight touchdowns — rushed for another — and has made many more plays with his legs.
But even more important than his statistics has been the touch he has placed on the ball.
Trubisky has had some great throws this quarter. Downfield accuracy has been his biggest issue, but good throws to Miller. #CHIvsDET
— BearsBeat.com (@bearsbeat) November 28, 2019
The two problems that have bothered me most about Trubisky is the way he reads defenses and his touch on downfield throws. For at least a month, the latter has been improving.
A .500 record feels underwhelming, but also a relief
I’m an eternal optimist, sue me. I choose to look at the glass as half full. But while an optimist, I’m also a realist, and I don’t believe playoffs are in the picture.
Still, a .500 record after the Bears were left for dead feels like somewhat an accomplishment. Some of you may view the Bears as “the walking dead,” because you still believe this season is meaningless.
That’s fine. I’m not going to advocate the revocation of your fan cards.
But I give the Bears credit for winning three of their past four games and making things interesting heading into the fourth quarter of their season. They just as easily could have packed it in for the season and booked January travel plans for their favorite vacation destinations.
Now we see what the Bears are made of
We know the Bears have not played well enough offensively to be a playoff competitor. I don’t know that anybody can deny that, even with a defense that has allowed around 17 points per game this year.
We’ve also seen that they are not in the same league as the New Orleans Saints, but have been otherwise competitive in every other loss this season.
It’s time to find out if the improvement by Trubisky and the offense the past four weeks — during which they’ve averaged 17.5 points per game, a low total but still higher than the defense has allowed — was a mirage generated by playing against poor opponents, or if there is legitimate improvement going on.
The Bears face a December stretch of potential playoff teams in the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings.
If you did not pass out from wine and turkey after the Bears game on Thursday, you watched a Cowboys team look awfully inept and certifiably beatable in a loss to the Bills.
The Bears can beat the Cowboys — at Soldier Field — and move their record to 7-6. At which point, the Bears might get defensive lineman Akiem Hicks back and make that Packers game at Lambeau Field the following week quite interesting.
Let’s not put the cart before the horse, though. The Bears should treat each of these games as a must-win playoff contest, and take it week by week.
Let’s see if the Bears can finish with a record that feels a little less slimy and a bit more satisfying.