Following up on this week's Team Notes
. ... When Mitchell Trubisky
walked off the field after leading the Bears to a 24-20 comeback win over the Lions Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, he was happy but not satisfied.
While Trubisky was pleased with the victory as well as his 338-yard, three-touchdown performance, he’s determined to build on the outing tonight when the Bears (6-6) host the Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at Soldier Field.
“It feels good,” Trubisky said Sunday after practice at Halas Hall. “You want to duplicate that feeling and then you forget about it and move on and are even hungrier for this week. We already forgot about last week. It was nice to get a win on Thanksgiving. But we play on Thursday night again, so we’ve just have to prepare and stay mentally locked in and get after it again this week.”
Trubisky’s 338 yards against the Lions were a season high. He made excellent decisions and accurate throws throughout the game, especially in completing 10 of 11 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating on the Bears’ final three drives as they erased deficits of 17-10 and 20-17.
Head coach Matt Nagy sees a quarterback who has played better in recent games in part because Trubisky has been laser-focused. But the coach knows there’s still room for improvement.
“He’s in a good mode right now,” Nagy said. “I really like where he’s at, his mentality. It’s been kind of a reset where we’re not happy or getting complacent because of the last couple weeks being better. Let’s keep growing. It’s not where we want to be. We had a better day on offense. We still had our times where we could get better and improve, but let’s not be satisfied with where we’re at.”
One reason that Trubisky was so sharp against the Lions is that because the game was played during a short week, the prep work focused on mental preparation.
“Last week it was all walkthrough and all mental, so I think if we’re locked in mentally, then that’s how it translates to the field,” Trubisky said. “Everyone knowing their jobs. Me knowing the timing of the routes, knowing the spots, seeing the defense pre-snap and just playing fast and not thinking. So if we get it down mentally and just go out there and play and hopefully you’ve just got to put in the work and make sure to execute and do our jobs.”
Trubisky did just that in Detroit, especially in the second half. With the Bears trailing 17-10, he connected on 6 of 6 passes for 84 yards on a 9-play, 80-yard drive that he capped by lofting an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesper Horsted
, tying the score 17-17.
After the Lions had taken a 20-17 lead on Matt Prater
’s 24-yard field goal, Trubisky masterfully engineered a game-winning 9-play, 90-yard drive that he concluded with a 3-yard TD pass to running back David Montgomery
with 2:17 remaining. Trubisky completed 4 of 5 passes for 81 yards on the drive, including 35- and 32-yarders both to receiver Anthony Miller
to convert crucial third-down plays.
“I feel like I did what I was supposed to do,” Trubisky said Sunday. “I did my job, and that’s kind of what I expect just going forward.”
The Bears were successful on 5-of-10 third-down plays against the Lions and will place a huge emphasis on that aspect of the game this week as they prepare to face a Cowboys defense that ranks third
in the NFL in third-down efficiency.
“We’ve just got to win our one-on-one matchups,” Trubisky said. “I’ve got to maneuver the pocket. The o-line has got to do a great job in protection and we’ve just got to make plays. I think if we can dictate the tempo somehow and control third down and stay in third-down-and-manageable, then hopefully we can get some conversions and make that a positive for this game.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, if the Bears offense has any prayer of replicating the success it had on Thanksgiving, it starts with controlling the Cowboys defensive line.
Under coordinator Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys have found ways to consistently create pressure with a four-man rush. Robert Quinn leads the team with 9½ sacks. Fellow defensive end Demarcus Lawrence has 30 sacks over the last three seasons. Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich has labeled the Cowboys’ front four as “elite, elite, elite.”
“Every O-line gets beat by these guys,” Helfrich said. “Every quarterback gets sacked by these guys and gets hit by these guys. You have to weather that storm.”
The Bears will have to be sound in pass protection all night.
Trubisky will have to be poised under duress, climbing the pocket to make throws downfield and taking off to run when necessary.
It will be a much greater challenge for Trubisky to stay sharp with his timing and rhythm tonight.
Can he handle all that comes at him?
We shall see. ...
Miller had a career day on Thanksgiving, hauling in nine of 13 targets for 140 yards.
According to ESPN's Mike Clay, at 89 percent, Miller actually was third among Chicago's wide receivers in snaps (Allen Robinson
, 94 percent; Javon Wims
, 90 percent), but the second-year receiver paced the unit in all of the key fantasy categories.
Miller was a nonfactor during the first half of the season, averaging 3.3 targets and 4.1 fantasy points per game during Weeks 1 to 10.
Things have changed recently, however, as he is averaging 10.7 targets and 16.0 fantasy points during his past three outings. He has caught 21 passes in those games and has at least six catches for 50 yards in each, good for double-digit fantasy points each time.
As Clay noted, Miller has yet to score a touchdown this season after finding the end zone seven times as a rookie, but the big boost in targets is enough to launch him into the weekly flex discussion.
On the injury front. ... Defensive back Prince Amukamara (hamstring) is doubtful for tonight's game after not practicing this week. Linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow), offensive lineman Bobby Massie (ankle), wide receiver Taylor Gabriel
(concussion) and tight end Ben Braunecker
(concussion) have all been ruled out.