LAKE FOREST – When it comes to questions about the Bears in 2020, the Matt Nagy era, or frankly the better part of the last two decades, most are always on the offensive side of the ball.
That’s been the case after the team’s Week 1 win over the Lions, one in which that side of the ball struggled for 40 minutes before catching fire in the final 20.
But Danny Trevathan wasn’t about to let the Bears’ defense off so easily, even if they haven’t gotten as much evaluation of the offense over the past week.
“It’s a ‘Get back on track’ for us mindset, and holding it down,” said Trevathan of the defense, which allowed 23 points in Detroit. “We gave away a lot of leaky stuff. We were just trying to play ball, but now we know we have to trust in one another, and the guys in this room, we’re gonna take accountability.”
Like the offense, the defense stiffened at the end of the game, not allowing a point in the final quarter and forcing a 55-yard field goal attempt that was missed by Matt Prater. But in the first two-and-a-half quarters, the unit allowed 23 points with Adrian Peterson averaging 6.6 yards per carry on the ground for the day.
Matthew Stafford got 297 through the air and the defense yielded three scoring drives over 64 yards in the contest. It’s not a terrible effort by any means, but for a defense that allowed just 324 yards and 18.6 points per game, the expectations are raised.
“I feel like myself, I didn’t play the way I wanted to, that’s why you have the next game, next mentality,” said Trevathan. “I’m looking forward to it, this whole team is, I know the defense is for sure.”
Coordinator Chuck Pagano, who’s in his second season with the team, agreed with Trevathan, but wasn’t going to let it overshadow the end goal of the opener.
“We were fortunate to get the ‘Dub.’ That’s the most important thing is to get the win,” said Pagano. “We got the win. Now it’s a chance to see exactly where we’re at, where I’m at, the players are at, where we’re at as a unit, and keep growing.”
The rookie who saw the most extensive time on Sunday has as much responsibility for the defense as anyone.
Having won the job in training camp, Jaylon Johnson stepped right into the fire in Week 1 as he made his NFL debut without a preseason game to prepare for it.
There were a few rookie moments, especially when Lions Marvin Jones through him on a tackle attempt in the second quarter. But Johnson showed why he won the position in camp at other times, including breaking up a pass later on that drive and deflecting Stafford’s final pass of the game to seal the victory.
It was one of the pass deflections for the cornerback to go along with his six tackles in his first NFL game.
“It definitely felt natural, felt good being out there. At the end of the day it just came down to just playing football and trusting in myself and my teammates. Just trying to make as many plays as I can and not giving up too many plays. That was pretty much it.
“It was felt good to be out there playing ball.”
Rookie receiver Darnell Mooney had three catches for 38 yards in his debut for the Bears’ offense.
HOW ‘BOUT THAT GROUND GAME
After being the topic of much debate during the 2019 season, there was no questioning one aspect of the Bears’ offense on Sunday.
That was the rushing attack, which was as productive as it’s ever been during the Matt Nagy era of the team. They ran it 28 times for 149 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, with David Montgomery leading the way with 64 yards on 13 carries.
It was a considerable improvement from the numbers in 2019, where the Bears averaged just 91 yards a contest, which was 27th in the league.
“Guys were just coming off the ball better, the backs were seeing the holes great. Even guys out on the on the edge, the receivers and everybody was blocking great,” said center Cody Whitehair. “It was a great team effort and we were able to run the ball.”
STAT OF THE WEEK: 20
The number of years it has been since the Bears’ last lost to the Giants in Chicago. The Bears have won the last three meetings at Soldier Field in 2007, 2013, and 2019.
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.