Nine yards in a half? Starting slow a big problem for Bears' offense

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy has repeatedly stressed quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is not solely responsible for Chicago’s ever-growing list of offensive blunders.

Surely, after nine total yards in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles, Trubisky isn't the only problem.

The 25-year-old quarterback is an easy target. He is having a miserable third season by any metric. Trubisky might not even pass for 2,500 yards or throw for double-digit touchdowns. By comparison, 16 other quarterbacks have already thrown for over 2,000 yards. After seven starts, Trubisky has 1,217 passing yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions and is 31st in the league in QBR (34.8).

Ultimately, the Bears must decide in the offseason whether Trubisky -- by virtue of being a former second overall NFL draft pick -- deserves another chance to lead the franchise. Virtually no empirical evidence exists to suggest he does.

But first, Nagy wants to shore up some of the other issues plaguing the offense. Nagy believes, almost by default, those fixes will allow Trubisky to perform at a more acceptable level.

“You go back and look at [Sunday's] game, offensively, there’s a lot more than just one person just to keep it really, really simple," Nagy said. "... That’s the part that’s frustrating, is Mitch knows and I know and we all know that it goes to him. He gets it. But there’s a lot of people involved here that we really believe in that it didn’t happen yesterday. That’s the part that’s really frustrating.”

Beyond the 9-yard half in the 22-14 loss to the Eagles, Chicago opened the game with back-to-back three-and-outs on offense. The Bears' lone first down of the half occurred with 48 seconds left in the second quarter. To say nothing worked would be an understatement.

“There are a lot of simple things we did last year and that we do in practice that on game day we are coming up short," Trubisky said after the game. "And that’s why you have this crappy feeling, and that’s where the frustration comes. Losing sucks.”

These slow starts have been a theme all year. The Bears have one touchdown (Week 4 against the Vikings) on opening drives in 2019. For Nagy, the Bears' playcaller, the lack of early success affects the rest of the game plan.

“You’re going to have those negative plays at times," Nagy said. "What you can’t do is have them repeatedly. And then you have a couple of guys get beat across their face, you have a holding penalty, you have a sack, you have a false start and then you have a drop. It’s almost like it’s contagious. And that’s what has to stop.

“We have not been effective to start the game with those drives. ... There’s so many factors that go into that ...and they’ve all been a little bit different. Different people at different times, so that’s been the challenging part.”

And individual numbers have tanked across the board.

Running back Tarik Cohen has 34 catches for 193 yards (5.7 yards per reception), 63 rushing yards and six drops. Last year, Cohen caught 71 balls for 725 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for 444 yards and three scores and made the Pro Bowl as a return man.

Tight end Trey Burton is an afterthought with 14 catches for 84 yards. That fact is particularly alarming since the Bears guaranteed Burton $22 million in free agency two years ago and the position is so important in the offense.

Former second-round pick, tight end Adam Shaheen, has nine catches for 74 yards and is playing himself off the roster. Another second-round draft choice, wide receiver Anthony Miller, hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this year. He led Chicago with seven receiving touchdowns last season.

The Bears are just starting to utilize rookie running back David Montgomery, who’s still averaging only 3.6 yards per carry.

And Trubisky was sacked three times in Week 9.

With all that, Nagy insists he is not discouraged.

“When you have the type of leaders that we have on both sides, you believe in those guys in making sure they communicate to you where we stand as a team,” Nagy said. “... And now we just communicate. ... And I think the ones that rally around each other and stay positive, which is what we do as a team is, we stay positive and we fight through it. It's going to come, it's just a matter of when. And I know it's hard for everybody, it's hard for us, it's hard for everybody out there. But I'm all about positivity, and that's the way we attack it.”