Three reasons hope lives on for Bears' 2018 season

Three reasons hope lives on for Bears' 2018 season

Yes, Bears fans suffered late Sunday night. Like staff writer SCOTT RICHEY. But Khalil Mack (above) and his teammates did have a few moments before Aaron Rodgers did what he does best — drive the Bears crazy in rallying the Packers to a 24-23 win. Despite all that, Richey explains why it’s still OK to be a Bears fan in 2018:

OFFENSE EXCITES EARLY

Let’s pretend for a second that the offense the Bears ran early in the first half is eventually what it will look like all the time with first-year coach Matt Nagy (below). It was creative. The throwback to the wing-T on the first play of the game? That netted the Bears a 7-yard gain. It was also productive. The Bears marched 86 yards on 10 plays, chewed up just more than 6 minutes of clock and took a 7-0 lead after a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

What Chicago’s offense wasn’t after such a good start was consistent. Nagy’s playcalling — particularly on late third down situations — was questionable. So was Trubisky’s playmaking and ability to finish drives. But if the Bears can turn those early scripted plays into a regular offense, their improvement will be swift.

RUNNING INTO FORM

Trubisky completed passes to eight different receivers against Green Bay. A good thing even if he targeted backup tight end Dion Sims too frequently. What exactly was the point of signing Trey Burton if Sims is going to be Trubisky’s go-to checkdown option? As much as the second-year quarterback spread the ball around, the Bears’ offense was at its best working through running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen (below right). Running the ball is quintessential Chicago.

Howard rushed 15 times for 82 yards — putting the Bears on his back in the fourth quarter. He also caught five passes for 25 yards. Cohen didn’t put up the same type of numbers, but the proverbial change-of-pace back added a dynamic wrinkle to the Chicago offense. It was one the Bears probably didn’t utilize enough.

MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY?

Aaron Rodgers and DeShone Kizer got the first look at what the front seven of the Chicago defense is capable of in the first half of Sunday night’s game. Khalil Mack had a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and scored in the first two quarters. The last player to do that in the NFL? That would be Mack in Week 12 of the 2016 season.

But the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year wasn’t the only bright spot for the Chicago defense that still has work to do after giving up 24 second-half points. Even so, Green Bay had to consistently double- and triple-team defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (below) to keep him out of their backfield and from doing more damage than his two tackles for loss. Mack, Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris and prized rookie Roquan Smith all had a first-half sack.

-