CHICAGO — Let’s start with this: There will be more tests for the Bears to take and pass, but not only did they pass their biggest for this season Sunday night at Soldier Field, they aced it.
Forget the outcome of the game, a 25-20 Bears victory, the stats, and the mistakes — and there were more than a couple.
Learning how to win and learning how to win big games are critical to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but that is not where the Bears are at right now.
How soon we forget they were an overwhelming consensus pick to finish last in the NFC North this year.
The question all of Chicago wanted answered vs. the Vikings, most of Minnesota wanted to know, and quite frankly what the whole NFL tuned in to see Sunday was are these Bears actually any good or just the product of a schedule full of wussies?
What they all know now is Khalil Mack is the most dominant defender in the NFL today. Line up anybody you want against him.
The Minnesota Vikings have the best front four in the NFL, but Akiem Hicks was the best D-lineman at Soldier Field. In Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, the Vikings fielded three first-round picks and a second-rounder, respectively, in their defensive backfield, a group that led them to the NFC title game last year, but right now the Bears secondary is better.
Adam Thielen is the best receiver in football this year, but after slot corner Bryce Callahan erased him in the first half, Minnesota cried uncle and moved Thielen outside in the third quarter.
Eddie Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman and Prince Amukamara all had big moments.
We already knew the Vikings defense was absolutely for real. What’s happening with those monsters of the midway right now is their defense is freakin’ loaded with talent — top-end talent, not just kids with high ceilings.
And the most exciting part for Bears fans should be how much further they have to go, how fast they’re racing to get there, and the real chance they have to be the best defense in the NFL by January 1, if they’re not already.
Yes, the offense only played one half again, but give some credit where it’s due. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, a Chicago-area kid himself — Peoria, actually — made some great halftime adjustments, and that Vikings ‘D’ may still be the Bears' closest contender for the title.
Mitch Trubisky made some nice plays, more with his legs than his arm, but some very nice throws too. He also made some poor decisions, more than we’ve seen from him in recent weeks. But it’s safe to assume the Vikings defense has more than a little to do with that, and tell me this:
If you had to pick one for your team tomorrow, which quarterback would you take: Trubisky or Kirk Cousins?
After Sunday night, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t be Trubisky.
The Bears offensive line isn’t good enough yet, but it was clearly the better of the two on the field Sunday night. Thielen and Diggs is as good a pair of wideouts as you’ll find in the league, but the Bears group is deeper and more dangerous. The advantage the Bears had in speed with any of Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen and Anthony Miller was stunning. It appeared moreso to the Vikings than anyone else.
Perhaps most importantly and impressively on offense was the Bears chose to make Jordan Howard a part of the game plan, and he was easily the best running back on the field.
Clearly, Trubisky is still a work in progress, and as he goes right now so goes the offense, and it has a way to go. But of the other 30 teams watching Sunday night, how many do you think want to see the Bears offense in January, especially considering it’ll be bringing the defense along with it?
Oh, and one other thing. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Parkey, for letting your boy come out and play for us Sunday night.
They’re not ready for the Rams, Saints, Chiefs, Steelers or Patriots yet, but these Bears are very much for real.