Bears have best of 2nd-year QBs

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - SCOREBOARD -

The Bears are back on the road this week­end with a chance to build mo­men­tum. The Bills (2-6) are on a three-game los­ing streak. And on pa­per, any­way, the Bears (4-3) seem po­si­tioned to roll to their fifth win of the sea­son. But the Bills have a fast and for­mi­da­ble de­fense and might carry enough des­per­a­tion to pull off a sur­pris­ing up­set at New Era Field. Just what will the Bears have to do to win? Here are our three keys.

Stay de­fen­sive Pregame anal­y­sis: A week ago, the Bears de­fense was dom­i­nant against an in­fe­rior op­po­nent. They stopped the run. They were as­sign­ment sound. They played an en­tire game on their terms. Six of the Jets’ 11 pos­ses­sions went three-and-out. Two oth­ers never crossed mid­field. Now? The Bears will face a Bills of­fense that’s as out of sorts as any. The Bills had 42 full pos­ses­sions in Oc­to­ber and scored only two touch­downs. They had nine turnovers and now, by ne­ces­sity, are turn­ing the con­trols back to sec­ondyear quar­ter­back Nathan Peter­man, who has nine in­ter­cep­tions in 81 ca­reer pass­ing at­tempts. The Bears should have ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to get af­ter Peter­man. They should re­main rugged against the run. They should be able to han­dle an or­di­nary Bills re­ceiv­ing corps led by Kelvin Ben­jamin and Zay Jones.

Fancy foot­work Pregame anal­y­sis: At his cur­rent pace, Bears quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky is on track to rush for 676 yards. In the his­tory of the NFL, only six quar­ter­backs have rushed for more in a sea­son. The list: Michael Vick, Bobby Dou­glass, Ran­dall Cun­ning­ham, Rus­sell Wil­son, Robert Grif­fin III and Cam New­ton. Tru­bisky’s scram­bling abil­ity has be­come a ma­jor weapon for the Bears of­fense, a life raft that has res­cued more than a few dis­jointed plays and choppy drives. For the most part, Tru­bisky’s de­ci­sions on when to run have been sound. And he’ll need his legs Sun­day against a Bills de­fense that has 21 sacks. Tru­bisky’s abil­ity to take care of the ball will be a ma­jor fac­tor against a de­fense that is quick and ag­gres­sive. Tru­bisky’s run­ning abil­ity cer­tainly has the at­ten­tion of Bills coach Sean McDer­mott. “Some play­ers have the la­bel that they’re mo­bile and it’s prob­a­bly overblown,” McDer­mott said. “I think in this case, it’s real.”

Learn from Vikings Pregame anal­y­sis: On Sept. 23, the Vikings woke up as 17-point home fa­vorites against the Bills. By half­time, how­ever, they were be­hind 27-0. Whoa. In that game, the Bills marched 75 yards for a touch­down on the open­ing pos­ses­sion and then turned two first-quar­ter strip-sacks into 10 more points. Be­fore the Vikings had run their sev­enth play from scrim­mage, they were down 17-0. Quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins was sacked four times and com­mit­ted three turnovers. That’s a game Matt Nagy and Mitch Tru­bisky need to learn from. The Bears have to fully un­der­stand the de­gree of dif­fi­culty of se­cur­ing this road win. The re­turn on that in­vest­ment has fallen short, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how the Dolphins game was right there on his foot in Week 6. Ask your­self this: Sun­day, New Era Field, three sec­onds left, Bears down by two, lin­ing up for a 40-yard field goal — how con­fi­dent are you that Parkey drills the kick to win the game? He sim­ply hasn’t earned that trust from any­one. Since cut­ting Gould on La­bor Day week­end of 2016, the Bears have strug­gled to solve their place­kicker prob­lems. Barth didn’t work out. Roberto Aguayo never stuck. Mike Nu­gent was a fill-in. Cairo San­tos stopped through, got hurt and ex­ited. In March, Parkey agreed to a four-year, $15 mil­lion deal with $9 mil­lion guar­an­teed to be a long-term an­swer. Now Parkey needs to be bet­ter. And with five of the next six games in out­door venues with un­pre­dictable fall weather, the de­gree of dif­fi­culty is only get­ting harder.

— Dan Wiederer

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