CHICAGO – If you working, taking part in an activity, or just doing something you do every day, there is a phrase that is sometimes uttered.
“Just livin’ the dream.”
Sometimes it’s said without a hint of sarcasm. Other times it’s meant to be just that, pointing out the monotony of everyday life. Either way, it’s a popular phrase.
On Sunday, it could apply to what took place at Soldier Field. But there would be no hint of sarcasm on this day; not from fans, not from players, and especially not from Ryan Pace.
If the general manager had a dream for what his completely rebuilt Chicago Bears would look like, it played out over the course of three hours against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Mitchell Trubisky, Pace’s hand-selected franchise quarterback, enjoyed one of the finest days in the history of the franchise. Newly acquired Bears receivers caught four of the six touchdowns the quarterback threw all day. Khalil Mack was, well, Khalil Mack, and those around him on defense helped in producing three turnovers.
Offensively, the team was creative, the defense was dominant, and a full Soldier Field gallery left as happy as they’ve been the past decade.
The final score was 48-10 – the most points they’ve scored since they got 51 on Tennessee on November 4, 2012. It’s arguably one of the most complete efforts by the team in the post Super Bowl XLI era and the first major positive moment of the Matt Nagy era.
If you pictured what this team would look like when the new coach was hired back in January, you lived the dream on Sunday.
” So today was one of those games where everything was clicking, and the players were just — you could just tell how focused they were at execution and making sure that they did the right things when the plays were called,” said Nagy of the effort.
Of course Trubisky is the most positive, shredding at least a few of the doubts that he created with an up-and-down start to the season. He was great on the opening drive – taking the Bears down the field for a touchdown for the third time in four weeks against the Buccaneers. But this time he kept going, never turning the ball over, instead racking up four more scores in the first half.
He found open receivers at a number of times during the memorable 30 minutes. He delivered a near perfect ball to Allen Robinson on the second touchdown of the day, and even used his feet to set up a pair of scores. He rushed for 53 yards on three carries, though his passing statistics were most impressive.
He had 354 yards passing with six touchdowns – the second-most scoring throws in a game in team history, tying Johnny Lujack who has the same against the Chicago Cardinals in 1949.
To put it in perspective, Trubisky had just nine touchdown passes in his first 15 games as an NFL starter. The win over Tampa Bay is exactly what Pace envisioned when he made the controversial decision to move up a spot to take the quarterback with the second overall selection the 2017 NFL Draft.
“I think I was just starting to feel it in practice. I was getting the timing and creating great chemistry with the receivers,” said Trubisky on why the offense broke out this week. “When I have time, just like I do in practice — the O-line made it happen for me today, giving me time, and I was seeing it and putting the ball exactly where I wanted it to go.
“That’s what I know I’m capable of. It’s just a great job by my teammates, just doing their job and everybody be on the same page.”
The defense is already there, but fans already knew that.
Mack continues to terrorize opposing defenses and for a fourth-straight game had a strip sack, becoming just the third in NFL history to have such a streak. That was one of four sacks for the Bears on the day to add to their NFL-high total of 18 on the season, and three more interceptions gives the team eight on the season – which is the same amount they had in each of the previous three seasons under Vic Fangio.
But fans are used to that by now. It’s assumed that the Bears’ defense is going to do that every week. The offense breaking through made this contest a dream for fans and the players – a vision of what could be more consistently for the group.
“It is real special to see,” said Mack of the offense. “10 (Mitchell Trubisky) was airing it out. Those guys on the receiving end were catching everything.”
Maybe some dreams, too. Because they Bears and their fans were living it on Sunday.