MONSTER’S MASH: As Trubisky finds his form, so does Anthony Miller
LAKE FOREST – One of the narratives that the Bears are trying push at the moment is the improvement of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky over the past month – and there is some merit to that.
Has he faced the stiffest of competition? Not really, but for the first time, there has been some life in the offense at times which has been dormant for the majority of the season.
Mainly it comes from Truibsky’s ability to generate some long plays and finally get some throws to the endzone. He’s got eight of his 13 touchdowns on the season in the past four games – including two three-scoring pass contests against the Lions in a month, and he had five plays over 19 yards in the victory in Detroit.
But the guy that’s helped to make some of those plays is snapping out of his own funk that he had to start the season, and justifying the trade the Bears made to move up and get him in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Anthony Miller has 21 catches in the last three games for 271 yards, helping to give the offense a bit of a jump-start over the last month. Against Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, he delivered the finest performance of his young career, setting highs in receptions (9) and yards (140).
It was on the final drive that Miller was at his best, making three catches for 78 yards that sparked the team’s 90-yard march for the winning score in a 24-20 win over the Lions. Not bad for a receiver who had only 17 catches in the first nine games of the season, and many wondered if Miller was a bust.
Yet the receiver never thought that, keep himself in the right mindset during a slow start so he now can enjoy the best stretch of his career so far.
“It’s always to the roof, man,” said Miller when asked about his confidence during this stretch. “I feel like I’m always open, I always make the play, I always make the catch. So my confidence is always up there.”
A FIRST TO REMEMBER
Just a few weeks back, one of the Bears’ storylines was how a converted receiver from Princeton was about to make his NFL debut.
How much Jesper Horsted was going to contribute was to be seen, but when Ben Braunecker went out with a concussion, suddenly the rookie was looking to play a much bigger role. On Thanksgiving Day, he embraced it with a memorable moment.
In the third quarter, Horstead made a diving over-the-shoulder reception in the endzone for his first career touchdown. It’s the second time he’s scored in a Bears’ uniform, having done so in an exhibition game against the Colts in August.
Naturally, this one means quite a bit more, and it was critical in helping the Bears rally to a 24-20 win over Detroit at Ford Field.
“Super good,” said Horsted on his feelings about the touchdown catch. “A lot of good things came together to make that play happen, and like I said, I wasn’t going to let that ball drop.
THE MANY LOOKS AGAINST KHALIL
With Akiem Hicks out of the lineup, there hasn’t been much to stop opposing offenses from doing everything they can to stop the Bears’ most dangerous defender.
Khalil Mack has had his hands full since Hicks went out early in the October 6th game against the Raiders in London. Facing a number of double and triple-teams, Mack’s stats have come down a bit over the last two months, registering just two sacks and one forced fumble since the game against Oakland.
It doesn’t mean he’s not contributing, as a number of Bears coaches and players have said over the past few weeks, but certainly, it will help when Hicks returns to the lineup, possibly against Green Bay next Sunday.
So what’s the most unusual blocking scheme that Mack has seen this year? It actually came September 29th against the Vikings when Hicks was out with knee troubles.
“I feel like it had to be that Minnesota game, I was getting hit by four different people,” said Mack, who registered 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble in a 16-6 victory. “That was unique.”
STAT OF THE WEEK: 70
The quarterback rating for Trubisky in his eight previous night games in his career. He’s 4-4 in those contests with nine touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions with 1,423 yards and a completion percentage of 62.4.