Bernstein: In Praise Of The Bears' Mundane Win

October 28, 2018 - 5:00 pm
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(670 The Score) Every once in a while, you need one of those like the Bears' 24-10 snoozer over the Jets at Soldier Field on Sunday. They're nice and boring and satisfying enough, the football equivalent of a potato knish.

After a first half that will never be archived for posterity -- in fact, if the images somehow failed to stick to any recording devices it would be to the benefit of all -- a pretty decent team withstood some of its own dumb mistakes and made enough plays to run the clock out and go home. Sometimes boring is fine.

It was fine. The Bears are fine, Mitchell Trubisky is fine, Jordan Howard is fine, the defense was fine.

Kyle Long maybe not so much, but them's the breaks.

So is catching the Jets defense in a blitz and happening to have called a screen to that side for Tarik Cohen. We know the Bears have said that they want to find ways to get the ball in his hands so he can operate in space, and arranging for him to have nobody within 20 yards of him was a nice touch. Bears coach Matt Nagy refused to take credit for sniffing out the defensive gambit, telling the WBBM radio crew that it was just good fortune, but coaches deserve plaudits for instinctive strategic decisions that work, especially those for 70 yards and an easy score.

The Bears plugged away with the inside run game too, staying with Howard even after too many unproductive carries to let him finally break a key 24-yarder. Even amid all of Nagy's signature bells and whistles of shovel passes and ghost end-around actions and short-yardage quarterback runs out of the shotgun, there was an understanding of how to salt away a game.

Luckily the Bears' pile of stupid ended up not mattering, after it looked like they were trying to keep the Jets in it with Eddie Jackson's boneheaded personal foul followed by Kyle Fuller mistiming his jump on what should've been an easy interception. Instead, Sam Darnold was allowed to throw his best pass of the afternoon, a 16-yard bullet to Chris Herndon that made it just a seven-point game early in the fourth quarter. Add in Long's pointless penalty that negated both a big gain and a roughing-the-passer foul and Cohen reaching out to touch a bouncing punt for reasons only known to him and the horrible demons that temporarily possessed him, and it's notable that the opponent was unable to gain more advantage from it.

As for Trubisky, it was more good than bad, as his command of the system and poise in directing second-half drives outweighed continued accuracy issues that still need to be fixed. He didn't turn the ball over, made some critical throws to move the chains and keeps making plays with his own foot-speed that will tempt Nagy to expose him to danger on the move. That he really can be effective as a ball-carrier is both a blessing and a curse in that regard.

Vic Fangio generated pressure on Darnold without the injured Khalil Mack, deploying some clever looks that were more effective than their lone sack might make it appear. Akiem Hicks remembered he was supposed to be good, and Roquan Smith looks close to being better than that. The Bears actually tackled, too.

In all, the Bears (4-3) got one they needed to get, with another coming up against the Bills next week. It's good that it was perfectly, pleasantly bleh, lacking the drama and wackiness of either their three other wins or excruciating losses that have already made these fall Sundays more emotional than need be. Good teams don't need style and high-wire acts all the time, and vanquishing bad is part of getting to good.

It seemed about right: a gray, wet win on a gray, wet day.

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