Ahead of the Green Bay Packers’ must-win game against the Chicago Bears, we spoke to Bear Goggles On contributor Mike Burzawa.
A lot has changed since the season-opening victory against the Chicago Bears. Since then it’s been a disappointing year for the Green Bay Packers, while the Bears have gone on to dominate the NFC North.
What has been different about the Bears this year under Matt Nagy? Are they Super Bowl contenders?
Ahead of Sunday’s key NFC North showdown, we spoke to Bear Goggles On contributor Mike Burzawa.
What has been the biggest difference for the Bears under Matt Nagy than John Fox?
MB: Wow, that’s a loaded question. Um, how about “EVERYTHING”? Not to speak ill of the fired, the Bears were listless and lifeless under John Fox. Matt Nagy has come in and changed the entire culture of the team in his first season.
He’s created unique schemes on offense that plays to Mitch Trubisky’s strength. He’s spreading the ball around and has opposing defenses guessing. He’s got defensive guys playing offense and brought a lot of FUN back to Chicago. Of course, winning helps too.
Two years into his career, and after his first season in Nagy’s offense, what’s your assessment on Mitch Trubisky? How has he improved and what must he continue to work on?
MB: Mitch Trubisky is making progress but is still pretty inconsistent. You can definitely see the traits that coaxed GM Ryan Pace into trading up to select Trubisky. I love what Trubisky has brought to the offense with his running ability.
Trubisky still has a long way to get to reach his full potential. The biggest area for improvement for Mitch is reading defenses, which is common for younger quarterbacks. Keep in mind, Trubisky only started about 14 games in college and added another eight last season, so he’s still pretty green.
With his inexperience, Trubisky is at his best as a one-read thrower. If his first read is open, Trubisky is very successful. If the Packers can take away his first read, he could struggle.
After signing a big contract in the offseason, Allen Robinson has just 615 yards and four touchdowns in the 11 games he’s played. Those aren’t bad numbers, but it’s unlikely he’ll finish close to 1,000 yards on the season. How would you review his season and role in the Bears offense?
MB: At the time when Pace signed Robinson, the Bears were in desperate need of an established wide receiver to provide some stability to the room and give the young quarterback a reliable target. Robinson has checked those boxes.
The production on the field probably hasn’t lived up to Robinson’s best season in 2015 when he notched 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Part of the lack of production has been the scheme as a whole. There are so many weapons for Trubisky to target, including Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Tarik Cohen and Trey Burton, that it’s hard to feed everyone.
The other thing that’s hampered Robinson are some injuries. He missed a couple of games, which hurts the stats sheet. Most importantly, don’t forget that Robinson is coming off an ACL injury that cost him virtually his entire 2017 season.
A lot of times guys need a full season and an offseason program, to really get back to 100 percent. I still have high hopes for Robinson’s future with the Bears going forward and expect a huge 2019 season.
Winners of six of their past seven games, including a statement victory against the Rams last week, is this a Bears team heating up at just the right moment? Is this a Super Bowl team, in your opinion?
MB: I definitely think the defense is heating up at exactly the right time. You can see how the pressure by the front-seven is helping to force turnovers while good coverage at the back end is helping pass rushers get home.
The Bears offense is still inconsistent with some of that falling on Mitch and some falling on Nagy. The lack of a running game has hurt the Bears in trying to close out games. If the offense can take care of the football and catch up with the defense, the Bears could certainly make some noise in the postseason.
I think it’s certainly reasonable to think the Bears can be a Super Bowl team. Why not? They’ve shown that the defense can keep up with anyone, limiting the Rams to just six points.
Will it be difficult to go into LA or New Orleans in January and pull off an upset? Absolutely. But I think this defense will keep the Bears in just about any game.
What’s your prediction for the game?
MB: The Packers have won eight straight in Soldier Field going back to the 2010 NFC Championship game, but they’re 0-6 on the road in 2018. Something’s gotta give!
I think the Bears finally slay the dragon and get the best of Aaron Rodgers. The Bears won’t sneak up on the Packers like they did in Week 1, but they also won’t collapse like they did in the fourth quarter.
This group is gaining confidence each week and knows what’s on the line – clinching an NFC North championship with a win. The Bears defense will frustrate Rodgers and get a couple of takeaways while Trubisky and the offense do enough to get a home win. Bears 24, Packers 20.