Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Where do you feel Mitchell Trubisky showed the most improvement against the Lions compared to how he played versus the Packers?
The biggest step forward I felt that Mitchell Trubisky took against the Lions was his decision-making. A week earlier in Green Bay, he was intercepted twice on a pair of ill-advised passes into double- and triple-coverage. He didn't make any of those mistakes versus the Lions, throwing with accuracy and timing. Trubisky completed 26 of 34 passes for 267 yards with one touchdown and a 108.3 passer rating that was the highest by a Bears quarterback this season. He lost a costly fumble late in the game just like he did in Green Bay, and Trubisky would be the first one to tell you that he has to do a better job of protecting the ball in that situation. But I thought he threw the ball well in quarterbacking the offense to its best performance of the season.
The Bears offense looked great in the first half against the Lions, but not so much in the second half. What do you think was the biggest issue?
I felt the biggest drop-off by the offense in the second half (at least in the final nine minutes) was poor execution on third down. The Bears converted 4-of-7 third-down plays in building a 30-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. But they followed by failing on their last four third-down opportunities when they either needed to sustain drives to protect their lead or erase a late four-point deficit. And it wasn't like they were in third-and-long; the Bears failed to pick up first downs when they needed 4, 4, 4 and 5 yards. Those four crucial third-down plays resulted in an incomplete pass, a sack, a turnover on a strip/sack that set up the Lions' winning touchdown, and a 4-yard completion to Allen Robinson II, who stepped out of bounds one yard short of the sticks.
Why did the Bears choose to throw the ball on third-and-4 from deep in their own territory late in Sunday's game against the Lions? Instead of a possible first down, Mitchell Trubisky coughed up the ball inside his own 10.
The situation you're referring to occurred with the Bears leading 30-27 and facing third-and-4 from their own 17 with 1:54 left in the game and the Lions having two timeouts remaining. The bottom line is that coach Matt Nagy knew the Bears needed to pick up a first down and felt that calling a seemingly safe short pass was the best way to accomplish that. (I would agree that the Bears couldn't just run the ball into the line and punt, given how easily the Lions offense had been moving the ball on their defense all game.) Unfortunately, defensive lineman Romeo Okwara swatted the ball out of Trubisky's hands as he was about to throw short to Darnell Mooney, and the Lions recovered at the Bears' 7, setting up the game-winning touchdown. Here's how Nagy explained the decision to call a pass on that play: "Third-and-4 and we're backed up where we don't really have the field position, so we have to get a first down. We have to make them use their timeouts. We ran a play that's good versus all coverages. If they show man, great. It has answers versus zero [coverage], and then if they play zone, it has answers there as well. So we felt good with that … We had to stay aggressive and get first downs to make them use timeouts and try to end with the football and win the game." Again, the decision made sense to me. It was just unfortunate that the right tackle got beat and Trubisky had the ball swatted away just as he separated his hands to throw the ball. But had the Bears called a run play in that situation, that decision no doubt would have been criticized for being too conservative, especially with the Lions moving the ball and scoring points so easily.
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.