The decline of the Bears offense from last season to this year is encapsulated by the unit’s performance on game-opening possessions.
It’s something the team is attempting to rectify heading into Sunday’s home contest against the Lions.
In 14 games started by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in 2018, the Bears’ initial drives resulted in five touchdowns, one field goal, two missed field goals, five punts and one interception.
In six games that Trubisky has started and played the entire first possession this year, the Bears have punted all six times, three times after failing to pick up a first down.
“I think just big-picture you want to be able to be better at that so you have a little better feeling going into any phase of the game,” said coach Matt Nagy. “I feel like for us [scoring on the first drive] would be a huge advantage to let our defense go out there and play with a lead.”
The Bears picked up 39 first downs on Trubisky’s 14 opening possessions last year, including 18 in the first four games of the season. This year the offense has mustered just six first downs on the six initial drives with Trubisky.
“I would say the overall theme is self-inflicted mistakes,” Trubisky said. “Not being locked in, overthinking, too excited. So we’ve just got to find a way to get back on track. It’s apparent on film where the mistakes are [being made]. We’re kind of just all taking turns. So if everyone just focused on doing their job and playing good football, we could easily fix those mistakes.”
Tongue-in-cheek: Trubisky’s comment Wednesday that he was “trying to get some of these TVs in the building turned off” due to all the outside criticism that’s being directed at him and the Bears caused a major stir. But those who are familiar with the quarterback—including Nagy—are pretty sure that Trubisky wasn’t being 100 percent serious.
“Just me knowing him and knowing how he is, I’m assuming there’s a little tongue-in-cheek there with how he said it,” Nagy said.
Trubisky was serious, however, when he said this about the critics: “You’ve got too many people talking on TV about us and what they think about us—what we should do, what we are and what we’re not—but they don’t really know who we are. Or what we’re capable of as people. Or what we’re going through.”
Cold feet: Having spent his entire life in Florida prior to joining the Bears this year, Eddy Piñeiro will have to get accustomed to kicking in cold weather.
The high temperature in Chicago Sunday when the Bears host the Lions at Soldier Field is forecast to be 41 degrees.
“[The ball] is not going to fly as far,” said special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor. “It’ll feel different on his foot. We went down to the stadium [Wednesday] and kicked and he did real well and it was windy down there, but obviously not as cold as it is [Thursday].
“He’ll kick [Friday]. It’s supposed to be pretty frigid [Friday]. It’s just something he’s going to have to go through. I think it’s all part of the learning process with him; another season and another obstacle for him. He just needs to tackle it.”
In the trenches: Nagy declined to confirm an internet report Wednesday that the Bears were planning to reverse a switch they made during the offseason when they flipflopped Cody Whitehair to left guard and James Daniels to center.
“With all due respect, that’s one thing I’m not going to get into game strategy-wise,” Nagy said. “But we’re going to look at a lot of different things. We’re always looking for solutions, so I’ll leave it as that.”