The result mattered less than the sloppiness
All Thursday's game did was confirm what we've already known about the 2019 Bears: They're a sloppy football team that's better than a truly bad football team. No sequence encapsulated this season more than what happened midway through the second quarter.
Following penalties assessed to Javon Wims and Rashaad Coward, the Bears were backed out of Lions territory and faced a first and 32. Mitch Trubisky was able to pick up 26 yards on the next three plays, setting up a fourth and six from the Lions' 32-yard line.
Matt Nagy called timeout, but did not send Eddy Pineiro out to attempt a 49-yard field goal in the idyllic indoor conditions of Ford Field. Instead, he sent his offense on to the field.
It was a disaster. Anthony Miller was not properly set, leading to an illegal formation flag being thrown. Trubisky, too, didn't get the snap off before the play clock hit zero, although that was not whistled. The play resulted in an incomplete pass anyway, turning the ball over on downs.
The lack of coaching and execution on that play would be startling for most teams in the NFL, but not the Bears. Confusion and pre-snap penalties coming out of timeouts have been commonplace this year, as has Nagy's penchant for trying to convert long fourth downs instead of having his kicker try long field goals (the Bears are 0-3 in those attempts in 2019).
The first half was an absolute comedy of errors after the Bears opened with a crisp six-play, 50-yard touchdown drive.
There were uncharacteristic coverage busts, allowing David Blough to carve up the Bears' defense by passing to open receiver after open receiver. Leonard Floyd committed a horrendous roughing the passer penalty when he shoved Blough as the rookie quarterback was near the sideline, throwing the ball away (it may have been soft, but it gets called a penalty every time).
And there were characteristic mistakes by the offense, like on that embarrassing fourth-and-six. Trubisky running backward instead of picking up a first down (and taking contact) was bizarre, but yet felt fitting for the Bears' afternoon - and, really, entire season.
Miller absolutely built on his strong game a few days ago against the New York Giants, catching nine of 13 targets for 140 yards. Most impressively, Miller ran two outstanding routes from the slot late in the fourth quarter, picking up 35 and 32 yards on a pair of third-and-fives to spark the Bears' game-winning drive.
Trubisky made excellent throws on those two completions, it should be noted. But with an eye on 2020: That Miller showed up in a big way, and may be on his way to a strong finish to 2019, is an important development.
And while one drive against a last-place team with a last-place defense doesn't save Trubisky's future, what he did on the Bears' go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter was legitimately impressive. He completed four of five passes for 81 yards, leading the Bears from their own five-yard line into the end zone.
Both Miller and Trubisky will have an opportunity to build off a strong finish to Thursday's game in a week when the Dallas Cowboys - and their good defense - come to Soldier Field. The Bears are 6-6 and are not out of the hunt, but have a ways to go before they're legitimate contenders in 2019. Accentuating the positives and diminishing the negatives of Thursday's game, going forward, will be the only way this team can legitimately feel like it can pull off a miraculous push for the postseason.
The Bears defense did not play with the edge that showed up last week against the New York Giants, instead leaving receivers open far too frequently and getting regularly moved off the line of scrimmage by the Lions' offensive line.
Getting picked apart by Blough, who never played a regular season snap before Thanksgiving, felt like a major gut punch to this defense's pride. And after the Bears tied the game with a pretty touchdown toss from Trubisky to rookie Jesper Horsted, Chuck Pagano's group allowed the Lions to drive downfield for a go-ahead field goal instead of steeling themselves and going the offense the ball back with the score tied.
The Bears' defense bent but managed to not break after Trubisky's go-ahead touchdown, though. Nick Kwiatkoski almost sealed the game with a near interception, and Roquan Smith made up for a bad penalty by sacking Blough to all but put the game away. And Eddie Jackson finally got his first interception of 2019 to seal the victory.
This is a defense that'll have to dig deep to finish 2019 strong with that pride intact. The potent offenses of the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings loom in the final four games. There's a chance things get ugly, or there's a chance the Bears have an impressive finish to the season on the defensive side of the ball.
Three takeaways: Playoffs? Bears have to clean up sloppy play first originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago