Coming off one of their best offensive performances in years and well rested after their bye week, the Chicago Bears go for their fourth consecutive victory when they visit the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The Bears (3-1) could easily be 4-0 but for a one-point loss after blowing a 20-point lead against Green Bay in the season opener. But they are riding high after dismantling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-10 in Week 4 behind a six-touchddown performance from second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
First-year head coach Matt Nagy wants to make sure Chicago is not riding too high as it prepares to face the Dolphins (3-2), who have dropped two in a row after opening the season with three straight wins and coughed up a 17-point lead in last week’s 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.
“When you have a good game, it naturally gives you confidence,” Nagy said. “What you have to make sure you prevent is making sure that you (don’t) get complacent with that and think it’s just going to happen every week because it’s not.”
Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, had never thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game before carving up Tampa Bay’s 32nd-ranked pass defense prior to the bye. He had five scoring passes in the first half and finished with 354 yards on 19-of-26 passing.
Nagy said Trubisky is the one player that he doesn’t have to worry about maintaining focus following such a successful performance.
“It definitely gave me confidence,” Trubisky said. “But I think just looking back on it, it was just like any other win for the Bears. It’s important. We got better that week. I felt like I got better that week in my growth and development.
“And this is a new week to continue to take another step and grow and get better.”
While Trubisky is ascending, his counterpart at quarterback is struggling. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, who missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury, committed five turnovers in losses at New England (38-7) and Cincinnati while throwing for 285 yards combined.
“I thought we were good the first three games,” said Dolphins head coach Adam Gase of Tannehill’s decision-making in the past two games. “But we just had a couple of bad choices, this last game especially.”
Gase, who served as Chicago’s offensive coordinator in 2015, did not place the blame solely on Tannehill, who was sacked three times against the Bengals behind a makeshift offensive line that is missing three injured starters.
Making matters worse for Miami’s offensive line and Tannehill is the prospect of going up against Chicago’s Khalil Mack, who has 24 quarterback pressures, five sacks, four forced fumbles, two passes defensed, one interception, one fumble recovery and one touchdown in his first season with the Bears.
Added Tannehill: “If you draw up a defensive end, he’s pretty much the epitome of what you want to have.”
The first NFL player in 13 years to register a sack and a forced fumble in four straight games, Mack said Tannehill presents problems for a defense despite his struggles with turnovers.
“You watch the film (of fumbling) but you also know that he’s a good athlete and he makes a lot of plays for that offense,” Mack said. “So it’s going to be another challenge. You can’t really get caught up in all of that. It’s going to be a new week and a new challenge.”
Miami needs to get its running game untracked. Kenyan Drake rushed for 644 yards last season after taking over as the starter for the final six weeks, but he has only 153 yards rushing this season and has gained just 52 yards total in the past three games.
Chicago also could get lead back Jordan Howard more involved in the offense. Trubisky had receivers running wide open in the secondary against Tampa Bay, but that likely won’t be the case against Miami, which has 10 interceptions, including three by cornerback Xavien Howard and two by safety Reshad Jones.
“Whether it’s opportunistic or skill or whether it’s a combination of both, they’re around the football,” Nagy said. “And to have 10 interceptions in this league, three by Howard, they’re a good football team, a good defense and they make plays.”