It went down to the wire but the Bears ultimately lost their contest to the visiting Detroit Lions on Sunday after Connor Barth shanked the potential game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. Despite the loss, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, there was a lot to like about the Bears in this game. We say it every week but multiple young players showed flashes or continued to build on solid performances. That being said let’s get right into it, week 11 recap:

Who Balled Out: Jordan Howard, RB

Howard had a rough game against the Green Bay Packers last week, carrying 15 times for just 54 yards. The young running back bounced back this week though, carrying again 15 times but this time for 125 yards and a touchdown. Howard ran with confidence and strength, running guys over and making them miss in space. Part of that was the offensive line having a solid day, opening holes on the inside and allowing Howard get to the second level all day. While he has had some up-and-down weeks this season, Howard has been mostly excellent all year and continues to be the rock of the Bears offense.

Needs Improvement: The Defense

This might be a first folks, as the Bears defense has been easily the best unit all season. That being said, they struggled on Sunday. The defense came out strong to start the game, Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd were unstoppable forces in the first quarter, creating pressure and disrupting the Lions offensive flow the entire time. Once the second quarter started though, things changed drastically. The pressure was suddenly gone, and the secondary was playing very soft in coverage. Lions quarterback Matt Stafford had all the time in the world, and was picking apart the Bears secondary like a surgeon. Things got better in the second half but there was still a noticeable difference between the first quarter and entire second half. Expect the unit to bounce back, but Leonard Floyd and Kyle Fuller went down with injuries in the second half, Floyd had to be carted off the field and Fuller’s hand injury looked pretty nasty. Those guys have both been key contributors, if not two of the most important contributors this season so we’ll wish them a speedy recovery.

Mitch Trubisky Evaluation of the Week:

Last week I wrote about Trubisky’s performance against Green Bay and how it was the best start of his young career. The former second overall pick continued to build off that performance, and had a great start against the Lions as well. His final line read as such: 18 completions on 30 attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown while rushing for and additional 53 yards. Let’s get one thing out of the way, as usual Trubisky made some nice throws that should have been caught but once again the incredible lack of talent surrounding the quarterback led to some drops. On the flip side there were also some throws that every rookie makes, too high or a little behind blah blah blah. At the end of the day Trubisky continues to grow and mature as a quarterback, and instead of mere flashes of talent we’re getting stretches of time where that talent is on full display. If you take away one things from this game, let it be this scramble by Trubisky with less than 30 seconds left in the game. On 4th and 13 with the game on the line Trubisky escaped a broken pocket, shook a defender attempting to drag him down, and scrambled for 19 yards and the first down, keeping the game alive. Instead of moving horizontally and forcing a questionable throw (a la Jay Cutler) Trubisky decided to make the play himself and put the team on his back. Trubisky had multiple other scrambles and athletic plays throughout the day, and Bears fans should be rejoicing in having a true athlete under center for the first time in a very long time. The kid is legit.

Other Notable Performance:

Adam Shaheen, TE: Shaheen, the Bears second-round pick in the last draft, finally broke out on Sunday. Now if you can really call a four catch, 41 yard day a “breakout” is up to you. Consider this though, this is the most Shaheen has been involved all season, he also caught a touchdown (on a beautiful throw by Trubisky) and flashed the speed/strength combo that made him a second round pick. Trubisky showed faith in Shaheen and that is likely to grow after he secured all four targets and a couple of them were impressive, notably the touchdown catch  where Shaheen shook his defender and kept the ball secure as he went to the ground. It will be exciting to see this relationship progress over the rest of the season.

 

Looking Ahead:

The Bears will travel to Philadelphia this upcoming Sunday to take on the 9-1 Eagles. Let’s get this out of the way, the Bears will not win this game. Philadelphia is a Super Bowl contender being led by MVP candidate Carson Wentz. So why watch? Well because this is going to be a great test for Trubisky’s mental toughness, as Philadelphia is a loud place with some ruthless fans. This is likely Trubisky’s toughest test yet and it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff prepares their young quarterback for such a tough environment.

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