At this point, every game the Chicago Bears play against either the Houston Texans or the Kansas City Chiefs provides another excuse to revisit the 2017 NFL draft. To be more specific, they are opportunities to mock the Bears for selecting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second pick, something which allowed the Chiefs and Texans to select the vastly superior Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson at Nos 10 and 12 respectively. This Sunday, at least, Trubisky was the one laughing, putting together one of the finest performances of his Bears career at the expense of Watson and the Texans. Now the question is: will Trubisky’s impressive game be a sign of things to come or was it just a statistical blip?
To say that nobody expects much from Trubisky is an understatement. The Bears finally gave up on Trubisky as their starter earlier this season, replacing him with Nick Foles. However, Foles injured his hip against the Minnesota Vikings, paving the way for Trubisky to lead a team that had already publicly lost confidence in him. The Bears haven’t exactly been world-beaters with either quarterback, as they were coming off a six-game losing streak heading into the game against Houston.
For at least one day, Trubisky quieted his many doubters. He passed for 267 yards against the Texans’ defense, throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions. He vastly outperformed Watson, who could barely stay upright – he was sacked six times in the game – and tossed a single touchdown that was the entirety of Houston’s scoring. The Bears thrashed the Texans 36-7, improving their record to 6-7 and keeping alive their slim playoff hopes. Trubisky’s passer rating for the game? That would be 126.7.
The fun story here would be that Trubisky put up eye-popping numbers because he was motivated to prove his many critics wrong. And, yes, it would only be human nature if Trubisky felt a certain amount of satisfaction in outplaying – by quite a bit – a quarterback that Bears fans wish had been drafted over him. At the very least, he will be happy to get a week free from criticism.
The truth is that, as the Chicago Sun Times’s Jason Lieser pointed out in his post-game analysis, the key takeaway from the Bears’ blowout win is that this year’s Texans, who fell to 4-9 with the loss, are weak. Lieser notes that the last time Trubisky had a higher passing rating was against the Detroit Lions last year and compares his four-touchdown game with the six-touchdown game he had against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2018. Now, there’s nothing wrong with blowing out inferior teams, that’s what you’re supposed to do to them, but these occasional moments of dominance probably shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Trubisky has been a huge disappointment for most of his time in Chicago.
The Bears declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option back in May, making him a free agent next season. Since it feels highly unlikely that he will return to the Bears, it could be that Trubisky is, essentially, auditioning for his future job and he’s running out of opportunities to impress. While his performance on Sunday won’t do much to convince anyone that the Bears made the right decision to draft him in 2017, it just might help convince another team that there’s still some untapped potential here. At the very least, maybe he can go somewhere where he won’t forever be blamed for where his team drafted him.
Stat of the week
30 yards. Patrick Mahomes is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and he very well could win the award again this year, but not even he is perfect. The Miami Dolphins’ 30-yard sack on Mahomes made him the first offensive player to lose 30+ yards on a play without fumbling since Phil Simms way back in 1979. He also threw three interceptions, the last of which allowed the Dolphins to crawl back into the game late before Kansas City finally shut the door. The Chiefs ended up beating the Dolphins 33-27, clinching the AFC West in the process. In a way, it was a positive game for both teams. The Chiefs proved that they can beat a good team even when their all-world quarterback has an off-day while Miami showed that they can hang in late against probably the best team in the league.
MVP of the week
Drew Lock (QB, Denver Broncos). Believe it or not, Mitch Trubisky may not even have had the most surprising stats among Sunday’s starting quarterbacks. Lock, another quarterback who has not exactly won over his critics, had a spectacular game against the Carolina Panthers. He threw for four touchdowns on 21-for-27 passing, getting sacked just once in the process. The Broncos ended up beating the Panthers 32-27. What may be most encouraging for those who have been waiting to see if Lock can take the next step, is the fact that he had his first interception-free day since the season opener.
Quote of the week
“Sorry guys I’m not playing today… A lot of hot fantasy owners.” – Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, trolling on his Instagram page.
After missing last week’s game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury, Jacobs was listed as active for the Raiders’ game against the Indianapolis Colts. However, in a puzzling move, Jacobs took to Instagram to announce that he would not, after all, be participating. Apparently, the news did not go over well for all those fantasy football players who had him on their roster as they swarmed to his page to express their unhappiness.
It turned out that the joke was on them. Shortly after posting that he would not be playing, Jacobs was suited up and participating in the Raiders’ pregame workouts. Jacobs was, in fact, in the starting lineup, although undoubtedly some of those who have him on their fantasy teams had already dropped him upon reading his initial (bogus) announcement. Jacobs would end up picking up 49 yards on 13 carries without scoring a touchdown in what ended up being a 44-27 Raiders loss. In the end, he didn’t make too much of a fantasy impact after all.
Video of the week
There were a lot of impressive moments in the Tennessee Titans’ 31-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but none was more fun than this flea-flicker from Ryan Tannehill to AJ Brown, who caught the pass with one hand. One could admire Derrick Henry’s selflessness in this situation but, as we will get into later, he would end up having plenty of opportunities to carry the ball before the day’s end.
Elsewhere around the league
— There were several excellent performances in the NFL on Sunday, but at this point nobody should be caught off guard by what the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry has been doing. The most dominant running back in the game went off for 215 yards against an utterly overmatched Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Thanks in part to his two touchdowns, Tennessee defeated Jacksonville 31-10. He now has as many 200+ yards rushing games since 2018 (four) as the rest of the league combined.
— The controversy over the Green Bay Packers’ decision to pick Jordan Love in this year’s draft seems a long time ago now. Sunday’s victory over the Detroit Lions clinched the Packers’ second successive NFC North title.
— There are still three games left in the season, but the Seattle Seahawks’ Jamal Adams has already set a record for most sacks by a defensive back. In forcing New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold out of bounds for a loss, Adams was credited for a sack which increased his season total to 8.5, beating out Adrian Wilson’s old record. The Seahawks beat the Jets 40-3, which was nothing but good news for fans of the still-winless Jets who are closing in on securing that No 1 overall pick.
— The New England Patriots had Sunday off as they recovered from the 24-3 beatdown they suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. After the loss, Bill Belichick went on the record to say that Cam Newton would remain the team’s quarterback, but after his electrifying start of the season, it’s obvious that he won’t be in New England’s long-term plans.
— The Philadelphia Eagles, like the Patriots, probably won’t make the postseason (despite being in the woeful NFC East), but they are at least experimenting with changes at quarterback. Jalen Hurts stepped in for Carson Wentz and immediately made a mark as he led his team past the New Orleans Saints, who had held the NFC No 1 seed going into Sunday’s games. The Eagles have said they still have faith in Wentz but if Hurts continues in this vein, they may change their minds.
— The Minnesota Vikings’ kicking woes continue. Dan Bailey ended up missing three field goals and an extra point in their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was coming after a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars where he missed three out of five kicks, including a potential game-winner. It’s especially glaring since Bailey was once the most accurate kicker in the NFL, which just goes to show you how precarious a gig it happens to be. Bailey’s scoreless outing helped the Buccaneers improve their record to 8-5 after the 26-14 victory over Minnesota.