Pompei: Observations From Bears-Cardinals

September 24, 2018 - 9:52 am

(670 The Score) The Bears’ 16-14 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday wasn't pretty, but it was gritty. There's something to be said for having the perseverance, poise and patience to come back from being down 14 on road and win a game. Bad teams usually can’t do what Bears did Sunday.

These are my observations.

1. This is the formula the Bears have to use to win games at this point: keep it close and let the opponent beat themselves.

2. If Matt Nagy doesn’t call for downfield throws from Mitchell Trubisky against the Bucs, I think we all will understand why.

3. Nagy was fortunate that he didn’t need timeouts at the end of the game. But I love the fact that he acknowledges he’s learning in these situations. He gets it on a lot of levels.

4. Trubisky isn't close to where he needs to be. Not saying he won’t get there, but he’s not close.

5. Jordan Howard’s numbers (24 carries for 61 yards, 2.5-yard average) weren’t impressive. But his effect on the game was.

6. Ladies and gentlemen, your frontrunner for NFC Defensive Player of the Year (and maybe even a dark horse for Most Valuable Player): Khalil Mack. 

7. The most impressive part about Mack is it doesn’t matter how offenses try to block him -- he's defeating every strategy. The Cardinals did everything they could to try to slow him down Sunday, and he still blew up their offense.

8. Every time I watch Mack play, I think, "He’s even better than I thought he was."

9. Here’s a hidden skill of Mack’s -- he’s been all over quarterbacks this season, but he hasn’t drawn a single flag for roughing the passer. Given what’s happening in the NFL this season, that's incredible.

10. It’s pretty amazing how a pass rush can lead to takeaways in the back end.

11. That being said, Bears' pass coverage has been a concern all season. It will be a bigger concern if Prince Amukamara still is banged up next Sunday.

12. Bryce Callahan is one of my favorite Bears. He’s an industrious, tough, scrappy overachiever with a big heart. Give me 53 like him any day.

13. With all the flash plays, it’s easy to overlook that the Bears defense also was really solid and consistent against the run.  They held David Johnson to 2.6 yards per carry and allowed only 53 rushing yards -- that was a key to the victory.

14. Lesson learned: The Bears aren’t smooth enough to take any opponent for granted. They were fortunate to fly home with a win.

Dan Pompei has been covering the NFL since 1985 and is a regular contributor to 670 The Score and a host on 670’s Bears pregame show. He also writes for Bleacher Report and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan Pompei.