Bernstein: Bears' Much-Needed Win Encouraging

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(670 The Score) Besting a bum is just a job to be done for a team that carries itself as a contender, and the Bears handled the responsibility well enough Monday night, dispatching Washington in a 31-15 win at FedEx Field to lift their record to 2-1 and put aside momentarily some still viable and valid questions about the quality of their play.

Matt Nagy's Bears have kept their appearance of confidence high after the opening-night debacle against the Packers and ensuing escape from Denver. They've continued to talk like a group with legitimate title aspirations even as their dumbed-back offense coughed and sputtered to produce just a lone touchdown in eight quarters, assuring us that more was in store.

There was, for this night, impressively so. It was well-handled in a way that calmed some fluttery nerves, settling into what we all needed it to be.

A contest that looked to be a rout eventually tightened into something potentially competitive until Washington quarterback Case Keenum seemed to forget that that he wasn't on the goal line while trying to reach for a first down on fourth-and-1 midway through the fourth quarter. The fumble ended up being Washington's fifth turnover of the night, making it all academic.

The other four takeaways were from the Bears defense we anticipated -- two Khalil Mack sack-strips, two interceptions by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and one from Kyle Fuller. That side of the ball is stout for certain, as we await word on an injury to the knee of Akiem Hicks. Regardless, we rest assured that Chuck Pagano's group is one of the best at what they do in the league. They shouldn't be required to have to score, however.

The idea that they might have to still gnaws, as Mitchell Trubisky's numbers didn't tell the full story of his play. His 25 completions in 31 attempts for three touchdowns and an interception was good for a passer efficiency rating of 116.5 that didn't reflect the numerous inaccurate throws and missed reads of open receivers, while the one pick was a bad one in the red zone. The ease with which the Bears carved up short fields must be mitigated by quality of opponent too. Washington's defense is beset by injury, and too many of those out there with an opportunity really don't look like they were putting out a professional effort. It's not good.

But Trubisky made a handful of nice passes when it mattered nonetheless. The slippery David Montgomery ran with the contact balance for which he was drafted, ​Allen Robinson continued to shine as an elite receiver and Taylor Gabriel left with a concussion only after a three-touchdown night. These positives outweighed the spate of penalties -- which have to be considered against the backdrop of higher rates of calls all over the NFL -- and an offensive line that has to be capable of a more reliable push.

This outcome was just fine.

Anybody begging the coach to play his regulars in the preseason can't complain about them turning the third real game into the equivalent of an exhibition, strangling a terrible team in its own building and allowing the Bears to start a week of practice for the Vikings believing whatever they believed in themselves after we ended training camp all with stars in our eyes. Still, these first three games have reinforced the cold reality of a sport that brings a high level of year-to-year variance and humbles more worst-to-first teams than not. Being far better than a bad opponent keeps us from confronting that for a week.

"Raise the Floor!" isn't exactly an inspirational rallying cry, but taking a crisis off the table with an assertive and broad-based performance did at least just that.

It was a good enough night for a probably-still-good-enough team.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.