DETROIT – The words “normal” and “abnormal” are going to be used quite a bit whenever two NFL teams take the field in 2020.
In fact, whenever any sports team takes their respective playing surface this year, there’s going to be somethings that are the same and a lot that are not.
Few to no fans in the stands, pumped-in crowd noise, and some socially distant celebrations are abnormal things that are going to become normal in 2020 and probably for parts of 2021. Sunday’s Bears opener in Detroit was a perfect example, as artificial noise was pumped into an empty Ford Field to at least make it seem as if this was typical.
Efforts by teams and players to adhere to safety protocols to prevent COVID-19 have so far been incredibly successful. Let when it comes to the atmosphere of the game on television and the lack of a live experience for fans in most venues this year, it’s most certainly an abnormal season.
At least the Bears are doing their best to keep things normal for fans. Like in the past, when fans were packed in to watch games, the team is doing their best to make you wonder if hope for a season is real of fleeting.
Like usual, that question centers around the quarterback, and in 2020 that’s Mitchell Trubisky. Through three quarters, his inability to move the ball through the air with consistency was off-setting a ground attack that, frankly, looked much improved from 2019.
There was a missed fourth down throw to Ted Ginn Jr., an overthrow in the endzone in an apparent miscommunication with Anthony Miller in the first quarter. Before halftime, an open Cole Kmet was missed with another pass, as Trubisky struggled to an 8-for-20 first half with just 110 yards passing.
But out of nowhere came an incredible stretch of football in the final three drives of the game. The passing game was moving, and so was Trubisky, and yardage was gained in chunks as the Matt Nagy offense first promised years ago.
Three drives, three touchdowns, all on Trubisky passes, with a dart to Anthony Miller for the game-winning score with 1:54 to go arguably one of his best as a member of the Bears.
A 24-23 win is the biggest fourth quarter comeback win since Jay Cutler threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help the Bears knock off the 49ers after trailing 20-7 on September 14, 2014. Back then, fans were wondering if this was finally the coming of age for Cutler in a Bears’ uniform, but obviously it wasn’t.
He would get benched later in the season for a game against the Lions with Jimmy Clausen getting the start. While improved in 2015, Cutler’s time as the Bears’ franchise quarterback came to an end at the end of 2016.
Now Bears fans wonder what’s real with their current signal caller – the first three quarters or the last one on Sunday. For about 40 minutes, Trubisky looked like the player that forced the Bears to bring in competition this offseason. The final 20 made him look like the guy Ryan Pace traded up to get in the draft three years ago.
Credit Trubisky for showing his ability to rally from a bad start to the game to come up with a rather brilliant finish. Perhaps a rough year where he had to compete for his position and didn’t get a contract extension did “callous” him as Nagy said back in training camp, increasing his resilience from past years.
At the same time, the coach has promised not to “deodorize” the start of the game because of the finish, taking a broad look at the quarterback’s effort over 60 minutes of football.
Haven’t we had this debate before with the Bears and quarterbacks? Of course, it’s normal, and yes, we can even use it this year. That’s at least one positive as signal caller questions seem to continue on in perpetuity here in an abnormal 2020.
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.