LAKE FOREST – In answering his first question of his weekly news conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Bears’ starting quarterback neatly summed up the offense’s first effort of 2020.
“We started slow and finished strong,” said Mitchell Trubisky when asked what stood out to him when looking at the Week 1 video for the team against the Lions.
That’s a very simple yet correct way to look at the effort in the 27-23 victory in Detroit, one where Trubisky led a trio of scoring drives in the fourth quarter to erase a sub-par effort through 40 minutes.
The finish was satisfying, yet the struggles of the unit and Trubisky himself early on that helped the Lions grab a 17-point lead was very much on the offense’s minds this week. One area for the quarterback to improve came right out of mouth following his initial simple assessment of the game.
“We’ve got to be better on third downs,” said Trubisky – and he’s spot on with that.
In the first half the Bears were 0-for-6 when it came to third down conversions, and it put them in a hole early. Two drives inside the 20 yard-line stalled when passes on that down fell incomplete with another forcing a poor fourth down throw from Trubisky to Ted Ginn Jr in the first quarter.
The Bears would start off the second half failing to convert another third down, going 0-for-7 in that category until they finally broke through for a first down with 2:27 left to go in the third quarter. Their 18 percent conversion percentage in Week 1 (2-for-11) was the worst in the NFL.
“It was very obvious we’ve got to be better on third down, especially early on in the game, staying in the game, staying on the field, and converting those critical situations,” said Trubisky. “To create some points so we don’t find ourselves in a deficit like that.”
It’s not been a strength for the Bears’ offense over the last year, with the team ranking 25th in that category in 2019, converting just 35.6 percent of their third down situations in 16 games. Making the fix could be gradual for the offense, which has other areas of needed improvement along with Trubisky as the second game with the Giants approaches on Sunday.
“Great teams realize that and are conscious of it, and then approach practice that way with that mindset, ‘OK, it’s third down, everyone better lock-in, because we got to convert this and stay on the field,'” said Trubisky when asked how to fix the team’s third down issues in the short term. “At first, it’s a mindset, and then it comes to studying the plays, everyone doing their job, and then it’s just the execution.
“If everyone does their job, we should be able to convert more third downs and when you make it more of a focus, especially in practice, you get better at it. So that’s what we’re going to do this week.”
It’s a start for the quarterback as he tries to bottle what he had in the fourth quarter and spread it across an entire game.
See more on the Bears on Chicago Football Weekly with Jarrett Payton and Lauren Magiera on Saturday nights during the season at 6 PM on WGN-TV.