Hub Arkush: Chicago Bears redefine winning ugly in Arizona
The temptation is great to say the Chicago Bears got a gift from the Arizona Cardinals Sunday in Arizona, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
As bad as the Cardinals are right now, the Bears’ defense is rapidly becoming one of the best in the NFL, and in the end while both the Bears and Cardinals offenses deserved to lose Sunday, the Bears defense did a lot more to win than the Cardinals’.
There were turning-point plays from Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, Bilal Nichols, Eddie Jackson and Bryce Callahan, and once again a handful of them from Khalil Mack as Chicago’s ‘D’ continued to wake up the echoes of the ’85 Bears.
When Cardinals rookie head coach and former Bears assistant Steve Wilks decided it was a good idea for Josh Rosen to make his NFL debut in the final minutes of the game with the Bears ‘D’ in a feeding frenzy, all I could think was, that poor kid.
However, the offense and rookie head coach Matt Nagy were a different story.
I have seen enough to understand why Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, he of the most successful current coaching tree in the NFL, said of Nagy, “He’s the best prepared assistant I’ve ever had in terms of his readiness for a head job.”
But the reality is Nagy is not just less experienced right now than his quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, Arizona was just his third game ever as a head coach, and he made more than his share of rookie mistakes.
Coming out of the first half two minute warning, on third-and-goal from the Arizona 2-yard line, Nagy gave us another exotic look with a four-WR bunch wide right. Arizona clearly wasn’t expecting it, with only three defenders there to combat it, and Allen Robinson was all alone wide left with a corner up to press him and a safety inside who came over the top. The Bears chose to throw at Robinson, missed him badly and were forced to settle for a field goal.
All I could think was, why would you do that?
That formation has to be designed to give you numbers, you got them and then didn’t take advantage.
Late in the game, Nagy again used his timeouts as if they were as valuable as losing lottery tickets.
I think Nagy is going to be very good when he’s ready, but he’s clearly not yet.
Which, of course, brings us to Trubisky. His 73.5 passer rating isn’t good enough, and wasn’t quite as good as last week.
I need to watch the tape a few more times to really break it down, and will Monday, but anyone who saw the game knows that at this stage of his development, Trubisky is just not yet seeing the field well enough.
But, on second-and-10 from Chicago’s own 33 with 10:51 left in the third period, Robinson ran an out and up on the right sideline and Trubisky dropped a dime on him for 39 yards — easily the prettiest play of the QB’s still very young career.
I tweeted at the time it might prove to be the turning point of the game — and I believe it proved to be.
Seven plays later, the Bears scored their only touchdown, and while they still trailed 14-10 at the time, they kept the momentum for the rest of the game.
That one play was like a 35 handicap ripping a 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway and understanding that’s why I keep coming back out here.
Sunday in Arizona was once again beautiful on defense and ugly on offense, but it was a “W,” and that’s why they play the game.
The real payoff is still a ways down the road, but next Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town for the biggest home game the Bears — the first place Bears — have had since 2012.
Isn’t that a lot more fun than anything they’ve done for you in quite a while?