Bears have best of 2nd-year QBs
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