By Chris Emma—
CINCINNATI, Ohio (670 The Score) – When general manager Ryan Pace sits down at season’s end with chairman George McCaskey and those on the Bears’ board of directors, he can point to Sunday as evidence of organizational growth.
Pace’s case had been lacking before his Bears arrived in the Queen City and blew away a disinterested opponent. A week after losing to the 49ers at Soldier Field, the Bears dominated the Bengals in a 33-7 win at a lifeless Paul Brown Stadium. Chicago posted 482 yards and stifled Cincinnati with a strong defensive showing.
The Bears were imposing at the line of scrimmage, flying on both sides of the football and putting forth the kind of effort that seemed unimaginable last Sunday. In breaking a five-game losing streak and improving to 4-9, the Bears showed there’s something more to fight for these final games.
“We’re trying to play for the culture – where we want to be next year,” rookie safety Eddie Jackson said.
That message stemmed from veteran safety Quintin Demps, who wanted his young teammates to know what the fourth quarter of their seasons is all about. They followed through with a revelation of progress.
Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was excellent in what would prove to be the best game of his young career. He finished 25-of-32 for 271 yards and two total touchdowns – one passing, one rushing – working decisively through his progressions and seeing the field like a veteran.
Finally, Trubisky had production to go with the potential.
“I really feel confident I’m getting better each week,” Trubisky said.
Trubisky led what was a terrific day for the Bears’ four rookie draft picks who were on the field. Tight end Adam Shaheen had four receptions on five targets for 44 yards and a touchdown, presenting a mismatch in coverage that benefited all of Trubisky’s targets. Jackson had an interception and a fumble and recovery to celebrate his 24th birthday. Running back Tarik Cohen brought his usual electricity, rushing 12 times for 80 yards and adding two catches.
Pace had set out to bring the Bears impactful players. The difference was clear in Cincinnati on Sunday, with young players all around stepping up.
The Bears’ impressive showing on offense stemmed from their run-pass balance. Jordan Howard complemented Trubisky’s day by rushing 23 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Cohen was plenty efficient with his workload, too, racking up 6.7 yards per carry.
While the Bengals were depleted defensively, that shouldn’t take away from what the Bears accomplished on offense.
“We just moved the ball with ease on them,” Howard said. “We had them off balance. They didn’t know if we were running or throwing.”
Exactly who were these Bears? Where has this team been all season?
Their performance in the disheartening 15-14 loss to the 49ers wasn’t only lacking competence but also effort. It was a major step back and the kind of game that often gets coaches fired. On Sunday, the Bears outplayed the Bengals so badly that they may have gotten Marvin Lewis fired.
Just when it seemed the Bears were ready to clean out their lockers, they came out with inspired football.
“(We’re) just playing for the culture – getting it back to Chicago Bears football,” Jackson said. “That’s the biggest thing. We got to change the standard, and we’re starting with these last four games.”