After grueling weeks of misery and torture at the unforgiving hands of the football gods, the Bears have regained probably somewhat temporary control of the reigns that have been thrown so hard off course they barely know where the course is anymore with a 33-7 drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though it was only the now 5-8 Bengals coming off a short week that looked like they have recently been brutally beaten to a pulp by in a Tonka tough Steelers team, to finally breathe again with a hearty win was more refreshing than a Soldier Field lemonade in August.
The run game looked phenomenal and yeah, that was really expected against the worst rush defense in the league. But 232 yards in total with 147 yards-80 yard split between Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen respectively is nothing to sneeze at. Howard racked up two touchdowns while Cohen dazzled with a couple himself only to be called back by penalties and stepping out of bounds. Even Mitchell Trubisky scored his first career rushing touchdown, the first quarterback rushing score since November 1st, 2015 with Jay Cutler’s two-yard scramble against the Vikings.
And for the first time this entire year, the passing game looked brilliant. The mastermind Trubisky was finally allowed to throw the ball and he proved what he is capable of. He played by far the best football of his career, going a strong 25 for 32 resulting in 271 yards and a touchdown. It was wonderful to finally see the iron clamp on him loosen up a bit and Trubisky being able to finally show off his talents.
Better yet, someone finally resembled a number one receiver. Kendall Wright went off (if you consider 10 catches and 107 yards as going off) and made some pretty nice catches over the course of the game. On a team so devoid of weapons, having someone playing as reliable as Wright did is a miracle. Even Adam Shaheen is starting to prove his worth as a second-round pick.
However, this game was more than just a delightful treat to be enjoyed and bragged about this week until the Bears potentially drop a matchup against the lowly Browns. This game was a peep into the future.
Ok, ok, I get it. Only one game against a weak Bengals team, nothing to lose our minds about. Let’s not get ahead ourselves, but if everything goes to plan, this really is the Chicago Bears of the future no matter the opponent. Are they going to burst onto the scene a la Philadelphia Eagles to be a top team in the league next year? No, probably not, this is still only one game. But with a few tweaks and upgrades on top of a new head coach, this level of play is what we can expect out of the Bears on a weekly basis.
The NFL is changing. I don’t think that will come as a surprise to anyone. You no longer need an elite defense to win, strong run games are simply nice to have, and no one will ever win without a great quarterback. The Bears for years have completely ignored this evolution and haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1985. And Ryan Pace understands this. By loading up on athletic, versatile defenders and speed and flare on offense, he is adapting the Bears’ roster to the game today born from spread offenses and uptempo pass games.
Pace’s rebuild plan hasn’t born fruit yet but the flowers are dying and the apples and pears are beginning to form. Trubisky is the prototypical modern quarterback and under a coach that can really key in on his skills (*cough* Matt LaFleur *cough*) and develop his throw on the run ability and precision accuracy, he is a receiver away from being a top ten quarterback in the league.
Cohen flipped the switch on the run game from stun to kill. His shiftiness is exhilarating and this allows for a ton of creativity on the offensive. From wildcats, goofy reverses, to running back passes, whoever the Bears get in at offensive coordinator next year will be able to have a lot of fun. And even in the worst case scenario, there will still be Jordan Howard to carry the offense.
Kyle Fuller is in the midst of a career year and rookie sensation Eddie Jackson is a big play machine. Leonard Floyd is the next great pass rusher in this league and Danny Trevathan is consistently one of the best players on the field at all times when healthy.
But the offense still has holes at the receiver and the offensive line needs to stay healthy. The secondary is still down a shutdown corner and another elite pass rusher to pair with the promising Floyd is necessary. A kicker would be nice and Cohen is more often than not an awful returner. This article is not to say the Bears are a great team after one game but the talent is there and after years of rough seasons, the future is finally beginning to look up.
The future is bright in Chicago. The Bengals game proved this. The Bears have a plan and that plan is slowly unfolding in the right direction. Even if it’s not this next season, it won’t be long until the Bears are among the cream of the crop in the league.
Super Bowl LIV here we come.