LAKE FOREST – Before I share what I saw on the tape of Sunday’s Bears 27-23 win over the Lions let’s hear a synopsis of what head coach Matt Nagy said Monday he saw from the win.
“No. 1, we did a really good job at being able to have successful run plays which helps out the play action, so that's a start," Nagy said. “Decision-making, as you go through the tape, there's some times that I think that Mitch can be better with some of his decision-making and he needs to and he will.
“The biggest thing that we have to get to is the consistency throughout the game. Third down, it's unacceptable for us to be 0-for-7 or 0-for-8. That's unacceptable.
“And then in the red zone, I said it to you last week, touchdowns, touchdowns, touchdowns. You have to have touchdowns, and we did in the fourth quarter, but let's do it the right way, let's start from the beginning.”
What I saw as it seems it always does in Chicago started under center.
Quarterback: Obviously Mitch Trubisky struggled in the first half and was spectacular late.
Some of that was just Mitch being Mitch, but a lot of it Sunday was a number of guys struggling with timing and rhythm early that I think you have to chalk up to the lack of any real football over the past eight months.
There were a couple throws to Jimmy Graham and a couple more to Allen Robinson in the first half that looked awkward and just unclear if Mitch missed them or Graham’s and Robinson’s timing was off trying to make the plays.
That all three played so well late, as well as Anthony Miller not arriving until late suggests it was at least in part the latter.
Trubisky was decisive and sharp as a tack when it mattered so let’s call the day a B -.
Running backs: The run game was as good as we’ve seen under Nagy and everyone contributed. David Montgomery can be a lead back and Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson are special weapons Nagy and company had a special plan for and it was exciting. It wasn’t perfect but they were an A -.
Receivers: Like Mitch, they started slow but came on strong. Robinson and Miller had highlight reel catches in the second half. The debut of Darnell Mooney was impressive, once they settle in it looks like Graham will contribute and the tight end group was pivotal in the run game. Give the group a B.
Offensive line: The run blocking was dramatically improved and exciting to see, particularly Germain Ifedi and James Daniels on some inside quick traps, but pass protection was subpar – too much of the time with both tackles struggling with a mediocre Lions rush group. I saw a B – here.
Defensive Line and Linebackers/Front 7: The problem here is the bar is so high and Sunday they often rolled under it. Bilal Nichols and Akiem Hicks each had a couple nice moments but Adrian Peterson just found too many unfilled gaps, and the pass rush was poor at best until late in the day.
Perhaps it’s sacrilege for me to say but Khalil Mack had a very favorable matchup he couldn’t do much with.
It will be fun to see how much better this gets with Robert Quinn. C +
Secondary: Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson are flat-out studs and may have saved the day, and there was a ton more good than bad in Jaylon Johnson’s debut.
But again the bar is so high and while the Bears back end eventually won the day, Matt Stafford without his best weapon won the second and third periods and there was no excuse for D'Andre Swift alone in the endzone with 10 seconds to play and the game on the line. B.
Special Teams: With the exception of one 35-yard Jamal Agnew kickoff return they were pretty much flawless and Cairo Santos was perfect. What more can you ask for? B +.
Coaching: Liked the gameplan, play-calling for the most part was fine but game management continues to be an adventure. Extra credit this week though for extenuating circumstances. B .
These grades are for what was on the tape Sunday but there is a qualifier to consider.
Some expect the Lions to be a dramatically improved team this year and if the talent is better, perhaps the Bears were better than we saw.
On the other hand, Detroit was without its best receiver, starting right tackle to slow Mack and top three cornerbacks by the fourth quarter.
Was it actually worse than it looked?
We’re going to need a few weeks to get this dialed in, but we know for the moment 1-0 is really the only grade that counts.