Emma's Tailgater: Why Bears Could Break Out

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The horse blinders and earmuffs that Bears coach Matt Nagy has lent to those at Halas Hall are only so effective. The Bears are quite aware of the criticism that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky constantly receives.

The sample size is fair, as is all the skepticism: Trubisky hasn't come close to living up to the hopes of a second overall pick. While the Bears have built a great team around Trubisky and his rookie contract, they know his play will ultimately dictate what's accomplished in these years to come.

All the Bears can do is remain supportive and hopeful Trubisky will put it together and that the next game will reveal his best. Perhaps that will be the case at Washington on Monday as the Bears' sputtering offense matches up against a porous Redskins defense.

The Bears enter the game having better established rookie running back David Montgomery to create a run-pass balance in a Week 2 win. With that comes the potential for openings in a defense. Trubisky's best performances in 2018 came when the Bears schemed openings designed for his first read. Nagy can be the reason why Trubisky is successful at Washington.

The Redskins allowed Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz to pick them apart in the season opener, as he went 30-of-44 for 380 yards and three touchdowns. The second overall pick in 2016, Wentz is someone to whom Trubisky can hope he's compared.

Trubisky and the Bears have just five plays of more than 20 yards -- the "explosive plays," as Nagy often calls them. For Trubisky and the Bears, Monday night offers the chance to change that theme and silence some critics.

Open field

The Bears have introduced a new team honor after victories called the "Sweep the Sheds" award. It recognizes the unsung hero behind a win.

"Everyone looks for the fantasy stat lines," Nagy said. "They want to see who scored the most points to help them win their fantasy game. There’s a lot of people that do the little things that don’t get recognized, and we want to recognize them."

Perhaps no player on the Bears' roster embodies that award more than its first winner, nose tackle Eddie Goldman. 

As the Bears' defense has risen to prominence, the likes of Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller have drawn acclaim across the NFL landscape. Goldman just quietly goes about his business in the trenches. Every snap, he throws his body into 300 or 600 pounds of man with the intention of creating openings for his team's pass rushers.

Hicks has told me before that Goldman is one of the most underappreciated players in all of football and a teammate he believes deserves a Pro Bowl nod. But taking on double teams doesn't lead to sexy sack totals, meaning he may never make it to Orlando.

If the Bears want to honor a player who embodies sweeping the sheds, they could give the recognition to Goldman each week.

4-down territory
1.) Long shots

Bears guard Kyle Long has been his own harshest critic amid personal struggles and inconsistent play in the team's offensive line.

"It starts up front," guard Kyle Long said. "There's a lot of things I can do better, a lot of blocks I'm not making, a lot of guys unaccounted for. I'll be on guys at the beginning of the play and at the end of the play they're around the pile. I need to make it my personal goal not to allow my matchup to make the play. If we all do that -- and I know everybody strives to do that -- then we'll have a lot of success.

"We got to get back to the basics. That's one thing (offensive line coach Harry Hiestand) always preaches: back to the basics. When things get a little out of whack, back to the basics. Because when we use our basics, not many people on earth can beat us."

2.) Back to health

The Bears have been easing two key players back into their offense: receiver Anthony Miller and tight end Trey Burton.

Miller suffered an ankle sprain on Aug. 11. He has been active for the Bears' first two games but has played just 46 snaps, posting one reception for two yards on two targets. That could change Monday as he nears 100 percent.

The same goes for Burton, who suffered the groin strain in late August and had a minimal role in his season debut last Sunday. Burton admitted there was plenty of rust and indicated his movement wasn't quite where he wanted it to be.

Expect both Miller and Burton to reclaim their key roles in the Bears' offense -- especially if Trubisky can open up the passing attack.

3.) High praise

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has been around some incredibly accomplished players in his coaching career, so his appreciation for players on this Chicago defense is notable.

Pagano has taken a liking to watching the All-Pro cornerback Fuller as he prepares behind the scenes for each game.

"I don't think there's anybody on our team that watches and studies more tape than Kyle," Pagano said.

4.) Happy people

Nagy had a good line discussing Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro and just about everything else.

"I love happy people, good people," Nagy said. "The last thing I want is Negative Nellie. I hate Negative Nellie."

5.) Eddy 'Dinero'
There will be a fifth down for this week because my good friend Henry Bushnell of Yahoo! Sports wrote an excellent feature on Pineiro. Give it a read.
Quote to note

"I want to be a great kicker so I can support my family for the rest of my life, so they never have to work a day in their life. That's been my goal since day one. They've struggled so much and they've given me everything. Now it's time that I give them everything."  -- Eddy Pineiro, a true feel-good story

Bears injury report

K Eddy Pineiro (right knee) -- This news brought some concern Saturday afternoon, but Nagy believes Pineiro will be fine. Pineiro tweaked his knee in the weight room, Nagy told reporters in Lake Forest. Of course, the Bears hope they're scoring touchdowns Monday instead of relying on field goals.

S Eddie Jackson (shoulder/knee) -- Jackson played through a bit of shoulder pain last Sunday. The listing for his knee was due to holding him out of walk-through work on the indoor practice field Saturday.

G Kyle Long (hip) -- It's not easy playing in the trenches, where your body takes a beating. But Long told Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times that he will indeed play.

TE Trey Burton (groin) -- The Bears have continued to limit Burton's work in practice as he inches toward full strength. But he will play Monday night, barring a setback.

DL Bilal Nichols (broken hand) -- Nichols will miss the game Monday. He could return sooner than expected wearing a cast/club on his hand, but that can lead to limited effectiveness, as defensive linemen rely on their hands to engage offensive lineman and create penetration. I expect Nichols to miss several games.

Prediction (1-1): Bears 27, Redskins 13

​The first step for this struggling Bears offense was to establish the run. With more balance heading into Washington, Trubisky will have opportunities to beat a porous Redskins defense. Look for the Bears to leave the Beltway with a two-score win.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.