Who’s got their backs?

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - BEARS - By Dan Wiederer

Af­ter go­ing win­less in Oc­to­ber for the first time since 2002, the Bears head to Philadel­phia as un­der­dogs for the first time this sea­son. Here are our three keys for Sun­day’s game.

Have the best run­ning back(s) on the field.

The Bears can’t force the is­sue try­ing to po­si­tion David Mont­gomery to have a more pro­duc­tive day than Jor­dan Howard. But it sure would be in their best in­ter­est if that hap­pened. The Bears traded Howard to the Ea­gles in March, get­ting only a con­di­tional six­thround pick in re­turn. The rea­son­ing was un­der­stand­able. Matt Nagy wanted to find a fea­ture back who had more pass­catch­ing prom­ise, greater ver­sa­til­ity and an abil­ity to cre­ate fa­vor­able matchups. Thus, 29 days af­ter dis­card­ing Howard, the Bears traded up to draft Mont­gomery in Round 3. The prob­lem is the Bears have strug­gled to iden­tify a con­sis­tent role for the rookie, giv­ing Mont­gomery an aver­age of just 12 car­ries over the first six games. Last week, though, with re­newed com­mit­ment to the run, Mont­gomery turned 27 rushes into 135 yards. That’s the kind of work­load and pro­duc­tion that has to be­come the norm. Howard, mean­while, is hav­ing an im­pres­sive first sea­son with the Ea­gles. Be­hind a re­li­able of­fen­sive line, he has av­er­aged 4.4 yards per carry, rushed for 443 yards and six touch­downs. He also churned out a sea­son-high 96 yards with a touch­down in last week’s blowout of the Bills.

De­fense must get off the field when they can. The Bears de­fense looked more like its old self in last week’s loss to the Charg­ers. They al­lowed only 36 rush­ing yards and 11 first downs. They forced four three-and-outs. And Kyle Fuller pro­vided a take­away, a first-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion that he re­turned in­side the Charg­ers 5-yard line. The de­fense will face a step up in class, but the Ea­gles aren’t light­ing the world on fire, ranked 21st in the league in yards per play (5.3) and yards per game (343.8). Doug Ped­er­son’s team is ef­fec­tive at mov­ing the chains, though, con­vert­ing 49.1% of their third-down op­por­tu­ni­ties. That ranks sec­ond in the NFL. Quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz, for what it’s worth, also has six turnovers.

Raise the bar for Mitch.

Is any­one else con­cerned that Mitch Tru­bisky is now half­way through his third NFL sea­son and the Bears are still spend­ing time work­ing on his game-day man­ner­isms? Tru­bisky ac­knowl­edged this week that af­ter a nudge from coach Matt Nagy he went against his nor­mal rou­tine and watched the loss to the Charg­ers via the Fox broad­cast copy. “I re­ally wasn’t show­ing any body lan­guage,” Tru­bisky said. “It was mostly just like a guy who looks su­per se­ri­ous, kind of tense. And that’s re­ally not me.” The Bears coaches are rightly tu­tor­ing Tru­bisky for what he needs most. And in the cur­rent state, he needs a ma­jor con­fi­dence boost. But let’s be clear. This is not part of the nor­mal cur­ricu­lum for Quar­ter­back­ing 202. And the Bears have reached a point where cel­e­brat­ing baby steps from their fran­chise quar­ter­back is no longer prac­ti­cal.

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