UA-59049186-1 2020 Week 15: Chicago Bears 33, Minnesota Vikings 27 - Good if it Goes

2020 Week 15: Chicago Bears 33, Minnesota Vikings 27

He is a guard. I have decreed it. [Photo credit: Chicago Tribune]

Player Grades

The grading scale goes from -3 to +3 for each play. Screens are graded as runs. Penalties are counted in whatever phase they were committed. Pre- and post-snap penalties are in the “Misc.” column. “Short” throws are 10 yards or less, “Medium” is 10-20, “Deep” is over 20. Everything else (scrambles, throwaways, reads, etc.) is under “Miscellaneous.” Parentheses in a column denote grades/snaps from the opposite side of the ball and are not included in grades/snaps from the player’s usual side. Snap counts are from Pro Football Reference. Box score and other relevant info can be found at that link as well.

Does the defense stink now?

No, but the defensive coordinator does. Chuck Pagano’s inability and/or unwillingness to look at what made the Bears’ defense so great in 2018, learn from it, and apply those lessons, is simply indefensible at this point. Fans piled on Nagy for the better part of two years over a perceived unwillingness to play to Mitchell Trubisky’s strengths despite not being certain if Trubisky even had strengths to play to, yet Pagano’s shortcomings have gone more or less unnoticed until recently even though he’s every bit as stubborn with his scheme and said stubbornness is wasting a future Hall of Famer and two other guys who will be joining him provided they continue on their current trajectories. We’ve been over the reasons for this garbage: when the Bears are in man, they play roughly a mile and a half off guys and when they’re in zone, they’re just kind of guarding dirt.

A new hero emerges

I know this is an extremely small sample size, but we might be able to add Kindle Vildor to the list of Ryan Pace late-round gems. Strong in both coverage and run support, he looked like he may be able to handle the starting nickel spot next year.

The offense looked good again, though

Yeah, they did, and it starts up front. I thought Mustipher played better than he graded out, but even if he didn’t have a ton of terrific plays, he does seem to have a better grasp on the line calls than Whitehair ever did. Whitehair’s true calling looks to be at guard. He’s been consistently strong since moving there; this week in particular, he was dominant. I mean, look at this:

The improved line play created opportunities for David Montgomery, and with teams now having to respect the Bears’ run game, the Bears were able to use playaction to get guys open and simplify things for Trubisky. In addition, playaction helps hide the Bears’ shortcomings in pass protection.

What about Mitch? Do we bring him back now?

I still don’t think so. This doesn’t look like a case of the light coming on; rather, it’s the Bears doing a better job of taking advantage of the stuff he can do. When asked to operate from the pocket, it’s still an adventure.

It’s 3rd-and-3 here. Mooney, in the orange circle, is open. The Minnesota defender in the purple circle is heading toward the inside of Mooney, the uncircled defender behind Mooney is backing up. If Trubisky throws that to Mooney’s outside, he picks up the first down and then some. But that’s not what Mitch did. Instead, he tried forcing one to Javon Wims, in the red circle. Then there was the interception in the end zone late in the game: an underthrown ball that never had a chance to a well-covered backup TE3/FB. The stats he’s put up the past few weeks are all well and good, but at the end of the day, he’s the same guy he’s always been and this team needs a better idea than him heading into 2021. Who that better idea is is a topic that I’ll cover more extensively in the off-season. The short version for now is unless Zach Wilson slides in the draft, the Bears consider Ryan Fitzpatrick while they figure out their long-term plan.

What does this mean going forward?

The Bears meet the Jaguars Sunday, now in control of their own destiny after the 49ers beat the Cardinals Saturday, despite the best (worst?) efforts of our old buddy Robbie Gould. Speaking of which, before we go any further, let’s all take a moment to appreciate Cairo Santos.

Cairo, we appreciate you.

Okay, then. The Jaguars are now in pole position in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes after the Jets somehow beat the Rams. The Jaguars are trotting Mike Glennon out at QB Sunday. The Bears can not lose this game.

Monsters

Whitehair, Bars, Monty, A-Rob, Nichols, Mack, Quinn, Jackson, Vildor.

Chipmunks

Duke Shelley got picked on.

Four Stars of the Game

4star Cody Whitehair

3star David Montgomery

2star  Bilal Nichols

1star Alex Bars, Kindle Vildor, Eddie Jackson, Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn (All men receive one full star. I have decreed it.)

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

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