Chicago icon Oprah Winfrey famously loves to give, and the Bears, well, they famously love to take.Perhaps no one was more pitch perfect, then, in describing the Bears’ 31-15 victory over Washington to improve to 2-1 Monday night than Bears LB Danny Trevathan, who sealed the game with a forced fumble then likened his opportunistic unit’s performance to Oprah handing out gifts.
“It’s very contagious,” Trevathan said of his team’s five-takeaway performance, something not even the NFL’s best band of thieves pulled off in a single game last season. “You get a turnover, you get a pick, you get a sack. Kinda like Oprah.”
And kinda the opposite of regressing, the dirty little word that’s been uttered repeatedly since January in and out of Chicago with regard to the Bears ‘D’ and history being against it when it comes to replicating last season’s league-leading 36 takeaways and six return touchdowns.
The victory laps were already underway, too, by those who were sure the Bears couldn’t possibly be that good again, with Trevathan and Co. nothing if not stout on ‘D’ during their 1-1 start but having solely one takeaway — and no touchdowns — to show for it.
That all changed Monday, when Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said “HELL YES” the revenge game narrative matters after scoring the Bears’ second takeaway of 2019 — and only their touchdown of the season — then following it with his second interception later. He was joined in the pick party by Kyle Fuller. Trevathan forced the final fumble, crunching a mid-flight Case Keenum on fourth-and-1 in the red zone with Washington surging back and looking to make it 18 unanswered early in the fourth quarter.
Of course, a Bears takeaway party isn’t really a takeaway party unless you know who is involved. Khalil Mack recorded two strip-sacks and would’ve had a third if it weren’t negated by penalty.
“The caliber of guys we have in this locker room, we’re built for these moments,” he said. “We want to go out and show the world every time we step out what Chicago Bears football is all about.”
Everybody knows by now the caliber of Chicago’s ‘D’ and its forte — regardless of it being rather fleeting the first two weeks. But it was Mitch Trubisky who entered Monday night after two weeks of facing the firing squad following very poor performances. Whether it was Washington’s ‘D’ that was the gift, or perhaps Matt Nagy’s spectacular game plan that accentuated Trubisky’s strengths to a tee, the embattled quarterback was finally game to capitalize on the defense’s play and enjoy his own revenge game of sorts.
“I think it just created momentum for the whole team,” Trubisky, who tossed three touchdowns, said of Clinton-Dix starting out the scoring on the Bears’ first defensive series after the offense found the end zone only once in the first two games. “Let’s do our job. Let’s go out there and back up the defense. They’re doing their thing. We know they’re going to create turnovers, make big plays and get us back on the field but we still have to do our job.”
Trubisky did just that, with an assist from Nagy, who incorporated tempo on offense from the outset, a strategy that clearly agrees with his up-and-down quarterback.
“Sometimes when you’re stalling out on offense like we were in the first two weeks, you just got to change it up a little bit and throw something different out for the defense,” Trubisky said, admitting that getting to the line early benefited him, likely also with more time to receive help in his headset from Nagy. “I think we just changed it up a bit, kept it a little bit more simple for our guys. Play simple football, block them up front and let our playmakers play on the outside.
Trubisky’s favorite target, Allen Robinson, took it a step further in discussing the way tempo finally helped get the offense revved.
“I feel like for us, that really helped us control the game,” Robinson said. “We would have our foot on the gas. We would pull back and we would huddle. We were in the drivers seat the whole game.”
Not that there weren’t some tense moments in a second half during which the Bears were outscored 12-3, appeared to get a bit too lax and might have suffered one massive injury in Akiem Hicks leaving for good with a knee issue. Matt Nagy said he thinks Hicks will be OK, but on a short turnaround this week to battle a team Hicks tormented more than any last season in the Minnesota Vikings, the guess here is they’ll be without him for a minimum of one game.
Mack has the utmost confidence in the Bears’ next men up.
“You understand those guys are great players,” Mack said of losing Hicks and beginning Monday night without Bilal Nichols (the Bears also lost Taylor Gabriel, who scored all three touchdowns on offense, to a concussion),” but at the same time, these guys that are stepping in, Nick Williams, Abdullah [Anderson], Roy Robertson-Harris, all these guys … they bring their thunder to the punch too. You can’t really miss the step.”
Undoubtedly, the Bears delivered their biggest haymakers on the young season Monday night. As Trevathan explains, it was exactly what they’d been waiting for.
“It just goes to show that when you put your right foot forward, stack things up, it don’t come when you want it to, but it come when you need it,” he said. “This is the perfect game heading into a division game this week just to get it rolling, just to see how that feels. We do a great job. It’s perfect timing.”