Bernstein: Bears Really Need These Next 2

October 24, 2018 - 4:55 pm

(670 The Score) It was a low bar I set, but Matt Nagy's coaching regime has already surmounted it: The Bears have played football at a level that hasn't yet completely ruined my Sunday.

Despite the two particularly excruciating losses and one that felt more inevitable as it unfolded, the victories and performances have been generally entertaining on the whole in a way that has at least resembled other NFL games, and that's a big step in the right direction from where we were, drifting the miserable seas in Captain John Fox's Football Garbage Barge.

I wanted the Bears to be one of 2018's surprise postseason participants even before star edge rusher Khalil Mack appeared out of the blue, and that's still in play for them at 3-3. Mack changed the calculus on everything, and then his ankle injury -- one that seems worse than anyone cares to say -- changed much of it right back. No. 52 may be on the field, but it looks like the Bears are playing without him.

We made it a fair expectation that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky take the same kind of steps in his second year that Rams quarterback Jared Goff did, and he seems to be doing just that or coming close enough with a passer rating of 97.1, 13 touchdowns against six interceptions, 1,594 passing yards and 245 more yards on the ground for two more scores. He's better than he was because he has a real offense to run, a coach with actual ideas and some representative teammates, and with just modest improvements in accuracy and decision-making, Trubisky could take a step toward much bigger and better things.

But this all makes Sunday a must-win, and then the one after that becomes something more like a mustn't-lose.

With the Jets and Bills looming, the Bears have a solid opportunity to hit the midpoint at 5-3, a number anybody inside or outside the organization would've taken if offered in July. It's halfway to 10-6.

Some of this assumes Mack can return to form, but even without him at full power, the middling Jets at home and the dog-breath Bills in Buffalo both have to be marks. Missing the kick in Miami blew off any deflector shields this team had in the first half of the year, and now the test of a good team has arrived.

Clean up the tackling that looks like it was taught at a special seminar by Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine, fix the inside zone run game and the pass rush, value the ball more seriously inside the 20 and stay in your lanes in kickoff coverage. That's not a recipe you have to write down or print out.

If the Bears can stay out of their own way and on the right end of the scoreboard in the next two weeks, there's a decent enough shot they're actually in this for a while, which is fine. I'll take fine, for now.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​​​​​​​​