Bears Clicking As They Break For Bye

The Bears rank in the top 10 in scoring offense and defense through four games.

Chris Emma
October 04, 2018 - 12:59 pm

(670 The Score) Is there every really a bad time for a bye week in the NFL? Most players and coaches would say no, but the Bears' recent play might suggest otherwise.

The Bears were just beginning to realize their full potential on both sides of the football before breaking for this Week 5 bye. They earned a thoroughly impressive 48-10 victory over the Buccaneers this past Sunday, one in which quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw a career-high six touchdown passes. At 3-1, Chicago currently sits atop the NFC North.

So, a bad time for a break?

"I know this, you want to go into a bye week with a win, not a loss," coach Matt Nagy said. "I've been on both sides of it. It's a strain not only as a player, but as a coach, when you've got to go two weeks and just wonder, 'Man, how did that happen?' To go into the bye with a win, now we can go ahead and kind of self-scout a little bit on who we are, and I think it's good timing."

After scuffling early, the Bears' offense appears to be clicking under the direction of Trubisky, while the defense ranks first in the NFL with 18 sacks and second with 11 takeaways. The Bears have eight interceptions -- recorded by seven different players -- a mark that matches their total in each of the past three seasons.

The player who perhaps needed the early bye week the most is star outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who arrived in Chicago on Sept. 1 via a blockbuster trade with Oakland. Mack planned to return to the Bay Area on the bye week to gather some more belongings, including bringing his dogs back to Chicago as well.

Mack is off to a tremendous start with the Bears through four weeks, recording 17 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown. He has become the first player since 2005 to record strip-sacks in four consecutive games.

Mack was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September, during which he elevated the play of everybody else. 

"We're getting better every week, and that's what you want to see," Mack said. "It's not just about me. You see the guys in the back end making plays.

"It's a good feeling, especially going into the bye."

The Bears defense has made quite the statement through its first four games, ranking third in scoring defense at 16.3 points allowed per game. After struggling at times through three games, the offense broke out with its Trubisky-led 48-point performance against the Buccaneers, matching the defense in performance.

"Hopefully, this will be something I can look back on and (see) this is where it all started," Trubisky said. 

The bye week coming early has extra benefits for the Bears, who arrived at training camp a week early and played a fifth exhibition with the Hall of Fame Game. The offense had put in work through the offseason and into the preseason installing Nagy's offense and developing continuity, while the defense enjoyed stability entering the season.

Now, the Bears can enjoy their week-long break knowing they're a first-place team just starting to click.

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