Bears film study: Trubisky's farewell, can the defense be trusted?
So maybe the Bears aren't the most impressive 3-0 team in the NFL, but winning is what matters. Let's take a look at the Game 3 film against Atlanta:
1. Was Mitch Trubisky really that bad?
Eh, well maybe it's not so much that Trubisky was really bad, but more that he's not getting good.
The Atlanta game was more of what we've already seen. Trubisky's main issues are he doesn't see the field well, doesn't make quick decisions and doesn't create many positive plays when things go off script. With no preseason games, the coaching staff probably did the right thing by giving Trubisky a couple of games to test his progress.
Until that third-quarter interception, Trubisky wasn't awful. The Bears moved the ball in the first half and he dealt with some rough circumstances. David Montgomery lost 5 yards on first down on one drive and lost 7 yards on first down on another drive, creating some tough third-and-longs.
Sacked on third-and-5, Trubisky should have dumped it to Tarik Cohen on a short crossing pattern. Instead, he tried to run and crashed into Montgomery, who was sliding over to block someone.
On another sack, Trubisky didn't see fullback Ryan Nall slip out of the backfield completely unguarded. But he bounced back to direct the scoring drive before halftime, with two good completions to Allen Robinson and the 45-yard scramble.
The third-quarter interception, which prompted Matt Nagy to send in Nick Foles, was bad. At the same time, Jimmy Graham never looked back for the ball, while Falcons cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson was sitting back and reading Trubisky's eyes.
But Trubisky should have thrown it to Robinson, who was wide open 15 yards downfield on the deep curl. At least Trubisky made a nice tackle.
It's been mentioned before that Foles has started as many as 10 games in a season just twice in his career. So it's very possible Trubisky will get another chance. Be ready.
2. Did the defense play poorly?
First of all, give credit to Calvin Ridley, clearly one of the NFL's elite receivers. He's just faster than most of the Bears secondary, although rookie Jaylon Johnson fared pretty well against him. The 63-yarder on the first play of the game saw Kyle Fuller passing Ridley to Eddie Jackson and both were left in the dust.
If I woke up tomorrow in charge of the Bears defense, I think my first move would be to switch to a 4-3 alignment. It's frustrating to watch the two linebackers in the middle of the field on wide runs. A lineman jumps out to block one and the other loses his pursuit lane. They also don't get out to cover screen passes very well. This is the Chicago Bears, for goodness sake, Roquan Smith deserves a shot to play middle linebacker, the franchise's defining position.
The defensive performance would actually have been pretty good, considering the opponent, without the two roughing-the-passer penalties and those were mostly bad luck. Khalil Mack had a beautiful strip sack in the second quarter, but he tackled Matt Ryan right into a helmet hit by teammate Mario Edwards. Akiem Hicks was flagged for landing with his full body weight on Ryan. Atlanta went on to score touchdowns on both those drives.
But the defense stepped up when needed late in the game. Credit Hicks for being an absolute monster, and Mack also played well.
3. Is Foles for real?
His efficiency wasn't anything special on Sunday, but he's good where Trubisky is not -- reading defenses and making quick decisions.
The game-winning TD pass to Anthony Miller was a good example. The Falcons lined up in a seven-man front and rushed six, with no deep safety. The Bears ran the perfect play for the defense, sending three receivers deep, and cutting Miller toward the middle where there was no help. Foles made a perfect throw while getting hit.
I tried asking offensive coordinator Bill Lazor if Foles deserves the credit for making the call at the line of scrimmage or if the coaches anticipated that alignment. He didn't really answer except to say a little bit of both.
Sad fact of the week: Of the guys who play outside linebacker besides Khalil Mack -- Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo and James Vaughters -- only Vaughters recorded a tackle in Atlanta.