Lions at Bears
► Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Soldier Field, Chicago
► TV/radio: CBS/760 AM
► Records: Lions 3-4-1, Bears 3-5
► Line: Bears by 2
View from the other side
Arthur Arkush covers the Bears for Pro Football Weekly. He breaks down the Bears for The Detroit News, heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @ArthurArkush.
► Question: How much is the early-season shoulder injury continuing to impact Mitchell Trubisky?
► Arkush: I'm not so sure it isn't his late-season shoulder injury a year ago that hasn't adversely affected Trubisky more, at least from a mental standpoint. His best weapon last season arguably was his ability to use his legs to extend plays — especially on third down — which has been almost a nonexistent element dating back to last December, but especially in the first half of 2019. He was for the most part very inaccurate and shell-shocked even prior to getting knocked out early in Week 4 vs. the Vikings this season and missing the loss to the Raiders in London, before returning with a harness protecting his non-throwing shoulder three weeks ago. Yet his continued unwillingness to scramble or at least buy himself time to throw, and Matt Nagy's inexplicable stubbornness to move the pocket and help out his vulnerable quarterback and offensive line, have been bigger detriments — or at least easier for us to decipher.
► Question: How short is Trubisky's leash? Do you anticipate we'll see Chase Daniel this week?
► Arkush: The Bears totaled nine yards of offense in the first half last week in Philadelphia, their lowest output in 40 years, according to Elias. If Trubisky, who was hopeless in that half from his first attempt — an awful misfire of a wide-open Allen Robinson on the Bears' first third down — wasn't replaced at the break, I can't imagine what circumstances short of an injury would compel Matt Nagy to make that switch. The potential X-factor here is that Nagy and Ryan Pace still appear to be in lockstep ... but for how much longer? Pace traded up to draft Trubisky second overall the year before Nagy's arrival; the general manager's wagon is more firmly hitched than the head coach's to Trubisky. Yet we haven't heard from Pace since July, while Nagy is the firing line target nearly every day. That could create an awkward situation, if it hasn't already. Still, while the Bears should be darn close to concluding what Trubisky is by now — hell, they arguably should already have reached that point — it's even clearer that Daniel isn't part of their long-term solution.
► Question: Speaking of disappointing seasons, what's happened to running back Tarik Cohen's role in the offense?
► Arkush: He's played 32 combined snaps over the past two games, after exceeding that total alone in three of the first five. As David Montgomery continues to impress, in part with the Bears using an extra O-lineman in Cornelius Lucas and fullback in J.P. Holtz, it's come at the expense of Cohen's reps. That's how broken this offense is right now, in part because the O-line and TEs have been so disappointing. But Cohen isn't doing himself any favors. He's went from one of the more reliable receiving backs in the NFL last season to someone with inconsistent hands and a continued nasty habit of spending too much time going east and west instead of north and south. Cohen's focus appears to be an issue at times, but for whatever reason, Nagy has struggled to maximize one of his most dynamic weapons dating back to the playoff loss in January.
► Question: How much has Akiem Hicks' injury impacted the defense?
► Arkush: It's almost impossible to quantify but hopefully this at least helps to illustrate his profound absence: The Bears have allowed two 100-yard rushers (Latavius Murray and Josh Jacobs) and twice failed to record more than one sack in the five games sans Hicks (including Oakland, when he was lost after only eight snaps), compared to only two and six, respectively, in the previous 25 games — all with Hicks. He's not only one of the NFL's best two-way interior D-lineman — a dancing bear who rarely leaves the field and wins with strength, quickness and effort — he's the vocal leader of their defense. Bilal Nichols only recently returning from a broken hand, Roquan Smith being a shadow of his rookie self, and the Bears playing much of the second half last week without Eddie Goldman, all have compounded the loss of Hicks.
► Question: The Bears win this game if?
► Arkush: David Montgomery is the centerpiece on offense. There's little evidence of late to suggest Detroit can stop the run but plenty telling us that Montgomery is the Bears' best weapon. If he gets at least somewhere close to the same number of touches as Trubisky has pass attempts, and the Bears don't kill themselves with penalties and giveaways the way they have during their four-game slide, they'll improve to 3-0 over Matt Patricia's Lions.
Players to watch
► David Montgomery, RB: Now that head coach Matt Nagy is trusting the run game more, the rookie out of Iowa State is increasing his production. Montgomery has 112 carries for 406 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Three of those scores came in Weeks 8 and 9, though they were in losses to the Chargers and Eagles. The Lions are the sixth-worst against the run, giving up 135.8 yards per game. They’ve only had one game where they gave up less than 100 yards (80, Giants), and in last week’s loss to Oakland they gave up 171 – 120 to Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs.
► Allen Robinson, WR: In his sixth season, the Penn State grad who played at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, has 47 receptions for 532 yards and three touchdowns through Week 9. At his current pace, Robinson would finish with 1,064 yards, which would be the second most in his NFL career.
► Khalil Mack, OLB: The Bears paid a high price for Mack in the trade with the Raiders ahead of the 2018 season, but he has 5.5 sacks, after getting 12.5 in his first season in Chicago. The three-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler also has 31 tackles and four forced fumbles on the season.
Julie Walker Altesleben contributed to this report.