In Week 10 of the 2017 NFL season, the Chicago Bears were upset at home against a Green Bay Packers team without Aaron Rodgers.
The lost signaled the unofficial end to the John Fox era as the team fell to 3-6 on the season. Many questioned whether general manager Ryan Pace deserved to make another coaching hire given his resume at the time. Now almost a full calendar year later, the Bears are in a completely different situation.
With the 34-22 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, the Bears record currently sits at 6-3 as they are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Pace’s four seasons rebuilding the team’s roster since 2015 is near complete as they could have their first winning season since 2012 and make their first playoff appearance since 2010.
What has turned the Bears around from last year has been their vast improvement on offense and their ability to make big plays on defense, both had been non-existent from 2015 to 2017. Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is the foundation of the offense’s success. All of the moves Pace made in the offseason were geared to maximizing his quarterback’s potential. Those transactions were on display against the Lions.
Trubisky passed for 355 yards including three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Head coach Matt Nagy was hired to create this type of production from Pace’s most important draft selection. Nagy had five years of offensive experience while quarterbacks coach with the Kansas City Chiefs which lead to the rejuvenation of quarterback Alex Smith’s career.
— NFL (@NFL) November 11, 2018
Two of Trubisky’s wide receivers compiled 100-yard receiving game which hasn’t been done by a Bears offense since 2014. Allen Robinson was seen as the best free agent wide receiver this past offseason and when signed by the Bears, provided the team with a true number one wide receiver.
That wasn’t enough for the Bears organization as they traded picks to acquire another second-round pick to draft receiver Anthony Miller in this year’s draft. Both Miller and Robinson had touchdown catches of over 35 yards against the Lions assisting the Bears young quarterback.
Pace’s talent acquisitions mixed with Nagy’s play calling ability has transformed the Bears into one of the best offenses in the entire league. Trubisky now has four games this season in which he has passed for over 300 yards and his sixth game of multiple touchdowns passes thrown. It is a remarkable feat given how the Bears offense performed the year prior.
Only once last season did a Bears receiver record a 100-yard receiving game as Trubisky never had multiple touchdown games in his rookie season. The offense lacked excitement as they never had a passing score of longer than 45 yards and only had two passing plays longer than 40 yards. Just once last season did the rookie quarterback top 300 yards passing which came in a 10 p0int loss in week 15 against Detroit.
With seven games remaining, Trubisky now has a chance to not only lead his team to the playoffs but also contend for a Pro-Bowl spot becoming the first Bear to do so since 1985. He currently has passed for 19 touchdowns with just seven interceptions and has scrambled for three rushing touchdowns. The Bears quarterback is a dual threat as he has been able to extend drives by scrambling for first downs as he is second in the league with quarterback rushing yards.
In the next 11 days, Trubisky will have two games to showcase his talent and his second-year growth to a national audience. The Bears will host the Minnesota Vikings in a vital divisional game that will decide the first place for the NFC North. Just four days later, they will travel to Detroit to take on the Lions on Thanksgiving. Both games will not only be vital to the Bears season but the national perception of their team and their quarterback.
A good showing on Sunday Night will lead to positive praise by the national media, but a memorable showing on Thanksgiving could lead to Trubisky becoming a national star and folk hero to Bears fans.
The Bears general manager, head coach, and quarterback all have been key to the turnaround experience by their team. At the start of the season, many wondered if Trubisky had the ability to play at a high level, and so far he has answered those questions. With seven games left and a possible playoff run ahead, the Bears, led by their quarterback have completed a remarkable turnaround within one year’s time.