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Another football game - another example of comprehensive competitive control.
The Bears haven't just won games as they have taken command of the NFC North this year; they have controlled them virtually throughout.
The 25-20 victory over the Vikings on Sunday night gave them seven victories in 10 tries.
The team has featured strong start after strong start, ball control (the offense has been amazingly good at avoiding three-and-outs), steady (and oft-times spectacular) defense, and, since the New England game, no disasters on special teams.
What's that you say? Cody Parkey's missing four kicks counts as a special teams disaster, doesn't it? Not in my book.
The special teams coach is responsible for special teams schemes and the personnel he deploys in them. He can control things like onside kick recovery teams (which on Sunday featured Allen Robinson in a critical receiver spot, a welcome replacement for rookie Anthony Miler). He can't make kicks for his kicker.
I suppose Chris Tabor was at least partially responsible for the decision to have Parkey practice at Soldier Field in the middle of the week. It went ridiculous in a bad way when the CodyCopters took to the skies but the bottom line is, Parkey practiced on his home field and then kicked better on Sunday.
Then again, the main thing Bears fans can be thankful for regarding their kicker's mindset is that it was nice and still at Soldier Field on Sunday. There was no wind to mess with Parkey's head and his kicks went where he kicked them.
Then there is the quarterback, who was good again - and lucky again. Another game, another dropped interception by a Bears foe (and of course the two converted picks), but overall, Mitch Trubisky has been plenty competent for the Bears. The offense had the one short series in the second half due to Tarik Cohen's fumble but otherwise always gave the defense the rest that comes with at least a couple first downs per possession. (And with punter Pat O'Donnell barely ever punting, he can focus on his bigger job - holding for Parkey and giving him moral support.)
The first of Trubisky's interceptions happened on a deep intermediate throw early on and did not feature a return by the interceptor, so at least the field position was flipped.
Trubisky tosses one up & Anthony Harris picks it off! pic.twitter.com/XSYePORpB7— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) November 19, 2018
Sure enough, the Vikings did not take advantage. On Trubisky's second pick, which had to qualify as one of his worst passes of the season and was also hauled in by Harris, at least the Bears led by multiple scores at that point.
The bottom line is that Trubisky has oftentimes been at his best when the Bears have needed him most (the dropped pick that could have been a killer notwithstanding). That is the part of the equation that national evaluators have missed when they have dismissed him luckier than good.
As far as the Bears controlling the NFC North, let's start by pointing out that they do not lead the division by a game-and-a-half. They lead it by one-and-a-quarter. A half-game in sports is a win or a loss. A full game is a win or a loss combined with the opposite achieved by a divisional foe. So if the Bears win and the Packers lose, they lead the Packers by a game. If the Bears are then on a bye and the Packers lose again, something that is more feasible this year then it has been in too long, the Bears lead by a game-and-a-half.
If the Bears have that bye and the Packers tie, Chicago's team leads by a game-and-a-quarter. Isn't that clever? You're welcome.
The Bears control the division in largest part because of the defense. They continue to keep things relatively simple, with nickel personnel on the field most of the time. They rotate the heck out of the defensive line but behind it is two middle linebackers (Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan) and the five defensive backs who have been stalwarts this season.
Let's hear it for corners Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan, and safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos. They are finding ways to make big plays in game after game and their tackling has been good enough to avoid the sort of crushing big-play scores that made a mess of things in Miami a month-plus ago.
Bring on Turkey Day in Detroit!
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.