Bears Relish Win Knowing They Can Be Better

September 23, 2018 - 8:48 pm

GLENDALE, Ariz. (670 The Score) -- Through the bowels of State Farm Stadium walked Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and guard Kyle Long, fresh off an uneven-but-satisfying 16-14 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday, turning a corner as the last players into the locker room. 

The disco ball was already lit and the music was pumping through the room as a team staffer shut the door behind Long, and the Bears celebrated their victory together. They're in first place in the NFC North at 2-1, taking pride in what they considered a team effort but understanding there's much more room for growth.

"For being such a young team, they're resilient," coach Matt Nagy said. "They're very resilient."

The Bears dug themselves a 14-0 hole against the Cardinals, who had scored a combined six points in their first two games, and it looked as though this would be a difficult Sunday in the desert. Trubisky struggled once again, missing on some big throws and turning the ball over twice. The offense finished 1-of-3 in the red zone, which falls on the quarterback. Playing in an environment that felt much like a home game, the Bears didn't give their fans much reason to be excited early on.

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In search of consistency on offense, the Bears are still waiting for Trubisky to reveal growth within Nagy's system. They continue to back him as a leader and speak of the progress seen back at Halas Hall, but Trubisky hasn't displayed it yet in games. 

But the defense picked up Trubisky, logging takeaways on four consecutive possessions in the second half to turn the tide. The offense converted three of those turnovers into 13 points, and Bryce Callahan's interception with 1:16 remaining halted the Cardinals' drive for the potential game-winning field goal.

There were contributions all around, from Khalil Mack's third strip sack in as many games to Bilal Nichols' tackle for a loss on a late third down that put rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and the Cardinals behind the eight ball late in the game. Special teams standout Sherrick McManis even was forced into a role on defense after an injury to Prince Amukamara, posting an interception and later a sack on the final play.

So many played a role in the win.

"We got to enjoy this 'W' because it was hard-fought," Trubisky said. "There was a lot of belief, and we stuck together."

The Bears have a winning record for the first time since 2014 -- with only a handful of players still left from then -- but found themselves looking ahead after this victory instead of to the past.

They realize this one wasn't pretty and know well it can all be so much better.

"We know it's not going to be easy in this league," linebacker Danny Trevathan said.

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Trubisky finished the game 24-of-35 for 220 yards and an interception. Nagy reminded not to judge a quarterback solely on the stat sheet, but the eye test proved to be worse. Trubisky was dared to go deep by the Cardinals' defense, which pushed its coverage up toward the line and often had a single-high safety as the only man back. He couldn't hit a receiver deep, save for a 39-yard connection to Allen Robinson in the third quarter that jump-started the offense.

Nagy's new-age system was supposed to reveal the best of Trubisky and create flow for this offense, but Trubisky hasn't allowed the Bears' plans to function as desired. By struggling with timing and reads, Trubisky is halting this offense. 

"I know people don't understand this: It takes time," Nagy said. "And we will get this. When we figure it out and we get it, it will be fun."

If Nagy is correct and this offense indeed does figure it out, the Bears could enjoy many more wins this season. The defense has established itself as one of the league's best units, led by a superstar in Mack and many emerging young pieces.

Even Nagy has a long way to go, which is something he was willing to admit. Late in the first half, the Bears had a third-and-goal from two yards out and Trubisky misfired on a jump ball to Robinson. The Bears came out ready to go for it before Nagy called a timeout and had a change of heart. He instead elected for a 20-yard field goal. 

On a fourth-and-1 with 4:34 remaining, Nagy had his offense on the field before wavering and calling a timeout -- which could've been needed down the stretch run. He sent kicker Cody Parkey out for the go-ahead field goal.

"I'm growing right now with decision-making," Nagy said.

"These are all situations for me (where) I'm learning as I go. And it's going to make me better."

Sunday served as a reminder of how any team can be beat in this league. The Vikings entered their game as a heavy favorite over the Bills and were blown out. The Packers went into lost on the road to the Redskins. Minnesota and Green Bay both sit at 1-1-1. With that, all the Bears had to do was beat the Cardinals and move into first place. But it certainly wasn't easy.

The Bears found a way to win and savored it knowing what more could be in store.

"These are situations, these are games, these are scenarios, these are some pieces of adversity that we're responding to right now," Nagy said. "And not every team in the NFL can say that. It's a credit to our guys for sticking together."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​