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Inside Slant

Inside Slant: Trubisky makes a difference in run-heavy game

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Against the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears offense moved the ball more effectively and consistently than they have in two seasons.

The 33-27 victory didn't include gaudy passing stats, but the game still reflects well on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Trubisky completed 15 of 21 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 97.7. However, it was Trubisky's command of the situation that impressed coach Matt Nagy.

"It was great to see the way that he ran the offense all day today," said Nagy, "decision making with these nakeds getting onto the edge, and it's a stress to the defense with the moving parts. I think he's doing a really good job at just commanding it and making good decisions."

On Sunday, Trubisky became the quickest Bears quarterback to hit 10,000 passing yards for his career for a player who began his career in Chicago, doing so in 49 games. However, the Bears opted to put most of their faith in the running game, with 42 of 63 plays being rushes.

"We wanted to go out there and establish the run today," said Trubisky. "The O-line with their mindset, and David [Montgomery] with his, we just went out there, and that's what we did. We passed when we needed to, and it was a pretty balanced game all across the board."

Trubisky believes the offensive line and Montgomery take pride in its prowess in the running game. The newfound proficiency has led to a more balanced offense that can play with a degree of swagger.

"Confidence is very important," said Trubisky. "I would say we're definitely ... I don't want to quite say night and day, but our confidence is way up from earlier in the season, where it just seemed like we were a little unsure about what we wanted to do, who we wanted to be. We have more of an identity right now."

Trubisky stated after the game that he felt the offense was getting better every week. The results speak to that. After facing a better defense against the Vikings than they saw against the Detroit Lions or Houston Texans the previous two weeks, the Bears still were able to move the ball and put points on the board.

The team was able to play complementary football, with each unit feeding off the other's success. Until recently, the concept had been brought up frequently but not realized.

"It starts with running the football and then the play-action," said Trubisky, "movement game that comes off that and just being efficient on first and second down and being a balanced offense. I feel like we have more of an identity now. Guys are buying into it. There's more passion and excitement at practice over the last few weeks."

Trubisky contributed 34 yards on eight carries, allowing him to cross 1,000 career rushing yards. Trubisky is only the sixth Chicago Bears quarterback to reach that mark. While he shouldn't be confused for a run-first quarterback, Trubisky's presence has paid dividends for the Bears rushing attack.

Against the Vikings in November with Nick Foles starting at quarterback, the team managed only 41 rushing yards. On Sunday, they totaled 199. It should be mentioned that Montgomery missed that game due to a concussion, but the second-year running back had only managed 30 yards the week before against the Tennessee Titans.

"When we have that going for us," said Trubisky, "I feel like everything else in our offense really opens up. Especially when you're going up against a Vikings defense that wanted to play a little more shell, two-high safety today. They're asking you to run the football."

At the beginning of the year, Nagy emphasized the importance of Trubisky's eyes going to the right places on the field. While an offense that rushed 67 percent of plays is not likely to become the norm under Nagy, the coach praised his quarterback's efficiency on Sunday.

"We're all collaborating and talking through schematics of the plays," said Nagy, "and what we like and what he feels good with. And not that we haven't been doing that before, but you can obviously see that some of the stuff is a little different, and it's fitting us, and it's working."

Trubisky has succeeded in narrowing his scope. He has avoided the long throws into coverage that resulted in two interceptions in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers. Instead, his passing has served to keep defenses from selling out to stop Montgomery.

"I'm just going out there, trusting what I'm seeing," said Trubisky, "and I'm getting the ball in the right place. Of course, there are always a couple of times a game where I'm on the field, and I see something that happens differently than what they see on the sidelines or up in the box."

Trubisky's one blemish was his fourth-quarter interception to Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler in the endzone. Trubisky made no excuses for the play, stating that he should have just thrown the ball away and allowed Cairo Santos to attempt an easy field goal.

"It got away from me a little bit," said Trubisky. "I thought I could make a little bit better of a throw and also a little bit better of a decision down there. That would be one I would want back."

Nagy gave particular praise to Trubisky's throws over the middle, which set up his playmakers to make gains after the catch. Despite four weeks of positive movement on offense, Nagy emphasized that the unit would keep evolving to keep defenses on their heels.

"What we've gotta do now is make sure that we don't get stale with it," said Nagy, "and we always try to stay one step ahead of these defenses because you start having tendencies in what you do. We want to help him out and help our offense out."

See the game unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers as the Bears face off in a divisional matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota.

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