By Chris Emma—
(CBS) Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky stated firmly last week that he holds himself to a higher standard than anybody else can.
After the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, Trubisky will surely be hard on himself. Opportunity was there for a comeback victory and for Chicago to reach .500 for the first time in John Fox’s tenure, but the Bears faltered with their offense to blame.
Trubisky will look critically through the film of his performance, which finished 14-of-32 for 164 yards and an interception. He’ll be especially hard on himself for his interception, an overthrow with the Bears trailing by eight late that sealed victory for the Saints.
But there’s only so much Trubisky can do working with an offense lacking playmakers. Fox stated weeks ago that Trubisky couldn’t wave fairy dust on the beleaguered unit. In the FOX broadcast, color analyst Chris Spielman took it a step further by saying that Trubisky couldn’t work miracles.
Those clamoring for Trubisky to throw the football got their wish Sunday, as he tried to lead the Bears back from a deficit. His receivers once again failed to separate against tight coverages, finding their lone contributions mostly when the secondary played back.
Veteran receiver Kendall Wright was targeted eight times and caught two passes for 23 yards, while Tre McBride was targeted five times and hauled in three receptions. Tanner Gentry was targeted once and didn’t have a catch. Markus Wheaton was out with a groin injury and Dontrelle Inman, acquired Wednesday, watched as an inactive.
Trubisky’s best pass came on a strike to Zach Miller, which was initially called a touchdown on the field but later overturned by league replay officials in a stunning turn of events. Miller suffered a dislocated left knee as his leg bent in a gruesome fashion on the play. He was carted off the field and taken to a hospital. The Bears had to settle for a field goal.
Running back Jordan Howard finished with 102 yards on the ground, his 10th occasion breaking the century mark, but 50 of those yards came on one carry. He averaged only 2.4 yards on his other 22 carries as the Saints mostly contained the running game.
Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will surely face criticism for his play-calling Sunday. At times, it seemed the offense was too predictable to the point the Saints were cheating pre-snap. But the blame to Loggains should be tempered considering what he’s working with.
With the offensive line broken down due to injuries – Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair both left the game after getting banged up – the Bears were left hoping Howard could break the big run or a receiver could split a seam in coverage.
Once again, the Bears defense did its part in keeping the game close. Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn’t throw a touchdown pass, a rarity for the future Hall of Famer, and the Bears defense forced a pair of fumbles. With the Saints nearing a dagger late in the fourth quarter, Adrian Amos ripped the football away from running back Mark Ingram, and the Bears recovered. But the offense went four-and-out, failing to make up a yard on third and fourth down with two incomplete passes.
The Bears head into their bye week at 3-5 and with plenty to sort out offensively. They need to establish a greater run-pass balance to extend drives after finding the end zone just once Sunday. Howard will continue to be the workhorse of this offense, and much of its success relies on how he performs. But until the Bears can establish threats in the passing game, the running game will face stacked boxes.
Perhaps general manager Ryan Pace could strike one more deal for a receiver before Tuesday’s trade deadline. He didn’t rule it out during a pregame interview on WBBM Newsradio 780, though it doesn’t seem likely. The Bears are probably stuck with what they have at receiver – a group of replacement-level players who can’t help out their quarterback.
Trubisky will be critical of himself after this loss, but the reality is there’s only so much he can do.