By The Sports Xchange – UPI
There are ways it can get stronger, and it will need to Sunday at Soldier Field in order for the Bears to prevent the Detroit Lions from winning their third straight.
Another week of working with new wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, getting used to throwing to tight end Daniel Brown instead of injured Zach Miller, and the possible integration of wide receiver Markus Wheaton into the passing attack after injury are factors the Bears believe will continue making Trubisky better.
“I like what I’m seeing, so we just need to continue to develop that rhythm and timing and keep building that chemistry,” Trubisky said.
There are other aspects of the offense that need attention beyond Trubisky’s timing with wide receivers and tight ends, and if the Bears can’t address these they’ll likely come up with eight losses in their last nine games against the Lions.
For one, the Bears need to unearth rookie running back Tarik Cohen.
In five games since Trubisky became quarterback, Cohen has five receptions, but he had 24 in the first four games with Mike Glennon throwing. They’ve centered the running game around Jordan Howard and are throwing more on third downs and two-minute drills to Benny Cunningham, so Cohen seems to have become lost or a special teams player.
“That’s an emphasis for us,” Trubisky said. “We can use him as a decoy, as well, because teams are double-teaming him and changing their personnel based on when he’s out there, as opposed to when Jordan or Benny is out there.
“We can use him as a receiver, getting out of the backfield, getting him more involved.”
Head coach John Fox said Cohen can get better as a pass blocker to make himself more useful in the two-minute offense.
“I think protections are the hardest things to be in that role as a back, particularly in passing situations,” Fox said. “Those are things that (for) any young player, it’s probably the last thing to come. He’s working at it. He’s definitely smart enough. It’s just that we’ve got a lot on his plate and that plate is getting heavier.”
The Bears were shocked last week when the Packers double-teamed Cohen as he lined up as a receiver while playing in the same formation as Howard.
“The second play of the game, they came out and doubled him, which is the first time in three years I’ve been here they doubled anyone,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said.
Providing Trubisky with a better running game will go a long way toward improving the offense. The Bears had only 55 yards last week when they were slowed by penalties, poor blocking and the absence of guard Kyle Long due to a hand injury. Long is hoping to play this week.
The Bears lead the league with 45 running plays resulting in losses.
“We have to do a good job playing on their side of the line,” Long said of the Bears’ offensive line. “We need to do a good job staying tight in our double teams.”
It would also help if Trubisky made decisions faster, although it’s a problem typical of any young passer.
“When you go back and look at it, look at Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith, those guys took a lot of sacks early in their career,” Loggains said. “The part of what we’re going through right now with Mitchell, and he is playing now, he has a knack for not turning the ball over and he’s doing a good job with that. That’s a huge plus.
“The next part of his game that will grow as he plays more is he’ll start to take less and less sacks because he’ll start to understand where check-downs are.”
Trubisky took five sacks last week and said Wednesday most of the sacks he’s had have been conscious decisions he made in order to avoid a turnover.
“I don’t think he’s too tentative,” Loggains said. “I think what he’s trying to do is extend plays with his legs.”
The Lions’ secondary likes baiting passers into making mistakes.
“They got playmakers on the back end and they’re smart,” Trubisky said. “They’ll trap you and they’ll do different things to create turnovers. So … we’ve just got to play within ourselves, execute the offense, get the ball to our playmakers and check down, go through our progressions and start the run game. We got to get the run game back up and going to open up the play-pass.”
With an offense averaging 11.8 points since Trubisky became quarterback, and considering quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions are scoring 27.1 per game, it’s going to take all aspects of the Bears offense clicking like they haven’t to date.
“They had a game where they were down 31-20 (against New Orleans) and they made it a game — actually ended up (losing) 52-38,” Fox said. “But it was a one-possession game with about 2 1/2 minutes left. So, (Stafford’s) very capable. They put up a lot of points. I think they’re sixth in the league in scoring. So they are very potent.”