ATM: Improved Line Play Key to Bears Finish

| December 10th, 2019

The Chicago Bears will go only as far as Mitch Trubisky takes them, but they need the offensive line to hold up so they can see exactly what the quarterback can do.

The line play has ranged from awful to mediocre until the last two games when we’ve seen holes opening up. It certainly appears that the unit is beginning to come together, which will be important for both the immediate and longterm future of the club.

Trubisky earned all the headlines after his dynamic performance against Dallas, but lost in the shuffle was the dominant performance by the offensive line. They didn’t just get the better of one of the best defensive lines in the league. They bullied them in what was unquestionably the best performance the Bears blockers have had all year — and maybe in several seasons.

That was the second straight game in which the Bears controlled the line of scrimmage. Trubisky was hurried just six times and hit once on Thanksgiving, according to Pro-Football-Reference, as the Bears also gave their runners 40 yards before contact on 23 attempts. Compare that to a week earlier when Bears rushers had just 25 yards before contact on 26 attempts. (The advanced data for the Cowboys game won’t be available until Wednesday.)

The difference was seen in Trubisky too. While he wasn’t pressured that much against the Giants, it was enough to throw him off as he had 10 of what PFR deems to be bad throws, compared to just four against Detroit and four against Dallas.

The Green Bay Packers know how much pressure impacts Trubisky and they blitzed him 17 times in Week One. They got home a fair amount, sacking him five times, hitting him five more, and hurrying him seven times.

Trubisky was bad that game, but he didn’t have much of a chance to be good.

The Bears have made changes since then. Kyle Long is out for Rashaad Coward, James Daniels is back at left guard and Cody Whitehair returned to center. While the jury is still out on Coward, swapping Daniels and Whitehair appears to have been a good move. The team has also played Cornelius Lucas at right tackle the last two weeks and he has shown throughout his NFL career that he is good at moving people.

The Packers are a different animal than the Cowboys and Lions. In both of those cases, the Bears pretty much knew what they were going to get before the snap. The Lions try some blitzes, but they simply don’t have the talent or the coaching to pull them off. The Cowboys are very basic, hoping to win with talent. The Packers throw a lot of noise at blocking schemes. They move players around, fake blitzes one way, only to bring it another direction.

Green Bay’s goal is to make the opponent think and, if they succeed, the opponent will make mistakes. And, of course, Trubisky’s biggest flaw is that he’s easily rattled and opponents have had plenty of success making him overthink any given play. They are the worst possible opponent for Trubisky right now.

The best quarterbacks succeed even while being pressured, but it’s safe to say Trubisky isn’t in that category. The Bears need to know if he can succeed even without the wind is at his back.

It’s about more than pass blocking. The Packers have a horrendous run defense — 25th in yardage, allowing 4.7 yards per carry — so the Bears should be able to open holes for David Montgomery. If they can, the blitzes that gave them Hell in Week One will be easy to pick apart.

Teams that block the Packers beat the Packers, as long as they have adequate quarterbacks and defenses. Whether or not the Bears have the quarterback is still in question, but we won’t get an answer if they don’t block for him.

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