Hub Arkush: Bears offense finally gets to show off

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (29) celebrates a touchdown run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (29) celebrates a touchdown run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/30/2018 6:48 PM

The final words of my Bears-Bucs game preview 48 hours before the game kicked off: "Tampa should be tailor-made for a Mitch Trubisky coming-out party, but if the Bears' offense continues to stutter, the defense may not be able to win this one on its own.

"This will not be a game in which either team wants to play from behind, so the first score or two could be the most important."

 

I was wrong, 20-20 hindsight suggests the Bears' defense just might have won it all alone if they had to.

The point is, as much as I've been writing the past few months imploring Bears fans to slow their rolls with all the panic about what's wrong with Mitch Trubisky, let's come down off the clouds now guys.

Here's what really happened Sunday in the Bears' 48-10 wipeout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

First, we found out in Week 4, when these kind of things usually start to become clear, that the Bears are a legit contender in the NFC North, and the Bucs probably aren't in the NFC South.

This game was not in the same league with what will prove to be the biggest challenges the Bears faced this season when the final chapter is written.

Tampa's offense has proved it can be scary, but it offers practically no threat at all on the ground and the Bucs' defense is just awful.

I think I'm on a really solid limb when I say it's more likely than not even with the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants lurking down the road, that the Bears may not score 48 points in a game again this season.

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None of that should minimize in any way what the Bears and their quarterback did to the Bucs and accomplished in the process. There is much to feel great about.

The Bears' offensive explosion Sunday was a story nine full months in the making, and the Bucs' defense was the perfect foil to allow head coach Matt Nagy and his young QB to show us all they've been working on so hard.

After suggesting earlier in the week he might pare the playlist a bit, Nagy played all the hits in sequencing Trubisky into perfect spots to find free-running receivers and with plenty of time Trubisky was close to perfect on the day at hitting them.

How much the clear shifting of the focus in the backfield from Jordan Howard to Tarik Cohen will impact things going forward is hard to say, but it seems likely the Bears simply emphasized they have a number of ways to beat you at running back, and Sunday was the little guy's day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Trubisky will struggle again, but Sunday was the quantum leap we've been looking for with all the tools Ryan Pace craved when he moved demonstratively to make him a Bear.

With a week off now to relish his coming-out party and the extra time to build on it, the Bears feel like a plan starting to fall into place.

The other side of that coin is the Bucs' offense, even having faced several of the league's weaker defenses before arriving in Chicago, is explosive enough to respond and might have swapped paint with the Bears had Chicago's defense not shown again why it's one of the best in the NFL.

In fact, that defense is so good it's now safe to say the Bears are a legitimate contender in the North with the Minnesota Vikings struggling, the Detroit Lions certainly still a work in progress and how evenly they played the Green Bay Packers on opening night.

The 24-hour rule lamp is lit people, break out your disco ball, have at it and then mark your calendars for Oct. 21.

After next Sunday's bye, the Bears should enjoy some fun in the sun in Miami the week after, and then when the Patriots come to town we'll get a real sense of where these guys are at.

• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at harkush@profootballweekly.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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