The Bears suffered another disappointing loss at the hands (or should I say leg) of their former kicker, Connor Barth. This season has been a roller coaster ride for the 9 year veteran kicker. It’s no secret that Barth had been struggling with his confidence and Sunday’s game tying miss may have been a blessing in disguise for the future of this franchise.
As I am sure Bears fans would enjoy watching a victory against a division foe, this loss proves to be a better outcome. At the moment, the Vikings are leading the NFC north, with a record of 8-2. If the Bears would have won, it would have put their record at 4-6, still keeping them 4 games back. Sure a win would have been nice but in all reality the Bears would remain too far back from making a run at the division. Heading into Week 12, it is time for the Bears to focus on draft positioning rather than meaningless victories. I am not asking for the Bears to tank the rest of the way. What we need to see are hard fought games and see the young core players develop going into next season.
Sunday’s game vs the Lions, did provide plenty of positives for Bears rookies- Tarik Cohen, Mitch Trubisky and Adam Shaheen. Watching these rookies perform well was the highlight of the game because these players are considered the offensive building blocks for this franchise. Tarik Cohen did an excellent job of running the ball and pounding for positive yards. Cohen displayed great athleticism on his 15 yard touchdown run and really opened up the playbook for the Bears rushing attack. It was great to see the coaching staff to utilize him as a decoy to help Jordan Howard in the rushing game. Based on this usage, Mitch Trubisky had success on a couple of zone read plays. Cohen is the type of player that defenses need to prepare for and using him in this capacity opens the door for big plays from other players.
Mitch Trubisky had another positive outing and his strongest attribute was on full display yet again. Although he did not match his season high in passing yards, he did run the offense efficiently. The first quarter proved to be his best performance, as the Bears offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains opened up the playbook, allowing him to pass on several formation sets. Just as the Bears amounted a 10-0 lead, the rookie QB made a costly mistake resulting in a fumble recovery TD for the Lions defense. Just when many would expect the Bears to fold, Trubisky drove the offense right back and capped it off with a Jordan Howard 12 yard touchdown run. As the Lions took the lead late in the 4th quarter, Trubisky was given another opportunity at a 2 minute drive. The rookie QB did struggle on some throws, which eventually led to a 4th and 13. This fourth down play created extraordinary excitement for Bears fans. As the pocket collapsed, Trubisky managed to scramble for a 19 yard gain. The most impressive thing about the run, was his determination to gain a first down with a defender at his backside. He ensured to stay upright and did not give up on the run until the first down marker was crossed. The poise he displayed in that instant, is something that cannot be taught and can result in winning football games.
Perhaps, the most encouraging sight of Sunday was Adam Shaheen’s involvement in the offense. I can speak for many Bears fans when I say there had been some anxiety due to the lack of involvement in the offense and being crowned a 2nd round draft selection. Based on the previous 2 games, he seems to be the pass catching tight end the Bears had hoped for. Although it is a small sample size, he has caught all of the balls thrown his way and finished Sunday’s game with 4 receptions, 41 yards and 1TD. Shaheen displayed his great hands, making a Gronk-like catch in the corner of the end zone. According to Pro Football Focus, Shaheen was given the highest grade amongst all tight ends in Week 11. Previous to his recent success, his involvement in the offense was non-existent and some could say the reason for this was his rank on the depth chart. Now with Zach Miller on IR and Dion Sims dealing with an undisclosed illness, his role will begin to expand. Just like growth and development is expected from Trubisky, the same will apply for Shaheen going forward.
We can all agree that the Bears run for playoff contention has now ended. The main focus now becomes the development of these rookies, as well as 2nd year players. In game experience is vital to the success of the team going forward. Perhaps the experience these players receive will allow them to win the close games next season. Although the Bears are expected to lose a few more games, this will help determine their draft order in April. Acquiring a top 5 draft selection can be huge for a Bears team lacking playmakers. With a new coaching staff and a successful draft, this could result in taking the Bears from pretenders to contenders.
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