SportsMonday: TCB

If the NFL tries to fine safety Eddie Jackson for the hit that gave the Jets brief life in the second half of Sunday's business-like 24-10 victory for the Bears, he will have a slam dunk appeal.

After he scurried in from the sideline after making that ridiculous call, you could see the ref mouth the words, "It was over his head." What he meant was, the ball was clearly uncatchable and therefore he threw the flag for a personal foul.

Small problem for the zebra: the pass in question went right through the receiver's hands. Jackson was a step-and-a-half away from him when it happened and it was obviously incorrect to penalize him for delivering that hit. It was another lousy call by refs who know the league gets most pissed when they miss roughing penalties.

On the other hand, this game did also feature refs picking up a flag for unnecessary roughness. After initially moving to penalize cornerback Kyle Fuller for his hit on Jets tight end Neal Sterling, the officials conferred and realized that Fuller's crushing hit was legal because he led with his shoulder. So we had that going for us, which was good.

The bottom line I suppose, and I will admit I am stretching, is that whatever negative impression may have been created by this game, it was at least matched by a positive. In fact, the Bears had plenty of positives in a routine but utterly necessary victory at home against a lousy team. And they accomplished that victory without their best player, which was the most positive thing of all.

Twisted ankles suck. They hurt so much when they happen you feel like you are going to throw up. And for weeks afterward you are susceptible to re-twisting it. Or you could suffer a compensation injury during that time, i.e., injure something else because you are compensating for your wounded ankle.

Khalil Mack's ankle injury didn't seem that serious when he did it, but we are reminded for the millionth time that you can't judge injuries unless you suffer them. Any concerns that Mack wasn't being tough enough were eliminated when he came back to play last week. This week it was time to step back and give the thing a chance to heal.

One of the many great conversations between Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone in the last month of the baseball season, the sportswriter said with all the sarcasm he could bring to bear, was one about players playing through injuries.

Their point was that back when they competed, guys played for their teams despite injuries because they didn't have long-term guaranteed contracts. Unfortunately it didn't seem to occur to them that because of injuries, those guys usually played terribly; that they and their teams would obviously have been better off if they had sat out for a while, allowing the injury to heal and a healthy player to play better baseball in their stead.

So Mack was out. And while the Bears' defense didn't generate an epic pass rush, it generated enough of one to do the job against a rookie quarterback. And the secondary played better, partly because it was facing a rookie quarterback and partly because it played better.

Mitch Trubisky gets one more game to impress us before the first big marker in his career quarterbacking for Matt Nagy - the halfway point of Season 1. He failed to do so in this game (completion percentages barely over 50 against bottom feeders don't cut it) in terms of his overall performance.

But Nagy's offense and Trubisky's throwing were impressive when it mattered - after the Jets drove to a touchdown pulling them within one score (that was the drive sparked by the lousy call on Jackson) in the fourth quarter.

At just the point when many NFL offenses would have gone completely conservative, Trubisky came out passing up a storm. His first pass in the ensuing drive was an almost no-hope bomb but at least he made sure it wasn't intercepted. Then he and Anthony Miller connected on a big gain and the Bears were off and running. The fact that Jordan Howard had 80 yards and a touchdown received more than enough attention after the game.

The more important fact was that Nagy was at his most aggressive when it would have been easy to play it safe. Way to go, big fella!


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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