Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) celebrates after an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Chicago. The Bears won 48-10. (AP Photo/David Banks)

David Banks/Associated Press

There were clues.

The Chicago Bears offense was held to 17 or fewer points in each of the team’s first three games, even though there were hints that the revamped unit could become special under new offensive guru/head coach Matt Nagy.

With second-year No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky playing quarterback sans training wheels in Nagy’s new-look offense, Chicago’s offense looked particularly effective early on against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.

It was an indication that Nagy was on to something with his offensive scripts, which might have made it all the more frustrating to see the offense struggle beyond the scripted portions of each game.

Until now.

Trubisky completed 19 of 26 passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns (both career highs) in a turnover-free performance as the Bears crushed a hyped Tampa Bay Buccaneers team 48-10 on Sunday.

Fourteen of those points came on their first three drives of the first quarter. But this time, the Bears didn’t slow down. They scored in all four quarters, and at one point they scored 31 consecutive points in the second and third quarters.

Trubisky became the first Bears quarterback in nearly seven decades to throw at least a handful of touchdown passes in one game. His 154.7 rating was, of course, the highest of his career. Aaron Rodgers has posted a higher rating only once in his career. Tom Brady has done so just twice.

Did it come against a bad defense? Certainly. The Bucs entered Sunday ranked last in football in terms of opponent completion percentage, 30th in opponent passer rating and last in passing yards per game allowed. That secondary is a mess. Veteran cornerback Brent Grimes appears to be out of gas, while experienced safety Chris Conte is injured, and the Bucs lack the depth to stay afloat under those circumstances.

But nobody is asking the Bears to score 48 a week. Instead, this is much-needed proof that they can do it on a good day against a vulnerable opponent, which probably means they can score 24, 27, maybe 30 on a decent day against a decent opponent.

When your defense features early-season MVP candidate Khalil Mack, as well as strong supporting cast members Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Danny Trevathan, Prince Amukamara, Adrian Amos and Roquan Smith, that’s probably all you need from Trubisky and Co.

The Bears needed to see that they could explode offensively against any opponent, but they also needed to confirm that they could shut down a strong opposing offense. That was also the case Sunday.

The Bucs had scored at least 27 points in each of their first three games. Their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, entered Week 4 as the highest-rated passer in the NFC, and they led the NFL with a yards-per-play average of 7.5.

But Mack and the Chicago defense held Tampa Bay to 10 points. They chased Fitzpatrick from the game at halftime with just nine completions and an interception under his belt. They limited the Bucs to 5.2 yards per play.

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after stripping the football in the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field on September 30, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Mack had another strip sack and continues to be the league’s top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

That was as large a statement as the one Nagy and Trubisky made, because that D surrendered 24 points to the Packers despite the fact that Green Bay was without a healthy Aaron Rodgers for much of the Week 1 tilt. They held the Seahawks and Cardinals to 31 combined points in victories, but both of those NFC West teams have struggled offensively.

The Bucs were wrecking defenses before they hit Soldier Field, but instead they were wrecked Sunday by a defense that now leads the NFL with 18 sacks and is second with eight interceptions.

Now, it’s finally fair to declare Chicago a contender in the tough-as-nails NFC and the even tougher NFC North. They proved in Week 1 that they can go toe-to-toe with Green Bay on the road, and that was before Nagy and Trubisky found a groove. The Minnesota Vikings haven’t earned a victory since Week 1 and have fallen 1.5 games behind Chicago, while the 1-3 Detroit Lions are two games back of the division-leading Bears.

It remains early, but October has arrived, and the Bears are rising, not fading.

They have a bye week next, and beyond that they have four consecutive games against teams from the soft AFC East. There’s a good chance they’ll win five or even six of their first eight games.

“It feels really good to sit here with a smile on my face,” veteran offensive lineman Kyle Long said after Sunday’s victory, per ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan. “For the last five, six years I’ve been saying, ‘We’re getting better, we’re getting better, we’re young. We’re going to get there.’ And you could see it. But now you guys get to see what I’m seeing. It feels good. The secret is out.”

Trubisky was babied for much of his rookie season under John Fox, which was understandable considering that he started just 13 games at North Carolina. But Nagy is allowing the 24-year-old to spread his wings, and it helps that he’s got the weapons.

His six touchdown passes Sunday were caught by five different receivers, three of whom—Taylor Gabriel, Allen Robinson and Trey Burton—weren’t on the roster last season. And they lit up the Tampa defense despite getting only 25 yards on 11 carries out of top running back Jordan Howard, partly because Swiss army knife Tarik Cohen accumulated 174 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 20 touches.

With Nagy’s oversight and so much support on the field, there’s lots of room for Trubisky to grow, and that loaded offense should only become more dangerous as he and his first-year head coach evolve in their respective positions.

     

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.

Accenture CEO: Diversity is critical

Companies headquartered in California can no longer have all-male boards.

That’s according to a new law, enacted Sunday, which requires publicly traded firms in the state to place at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019 — or face a penalty.

It also requires companies with five directors to add two women by the end of 2021, and companies with six or more directors to add at least three more women by the end of the same year.

It’s the first such law on the books in the United States, though similar measures are common in European countries.

The measure was passed by California’s state legislature last month. And it was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, along with a trove of other bills that look to “protect and support women, children and working families,” the governor’s office said in a release.

A majority of companies in the S&P 500 have at least one woman on their boards, but only about a quarter have more than two, according to a study from PwC.

California state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson told The Wall Street Journal last month when the legislation passed that “one-fourth of California’s publicly traded companies still do not have a single woman on their board, despite numerous independent studies that show companies with women on their board are more profitable and productive.”

“With women comprising over half the population and making over 70% of purchasing decisions, their insight is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions and profitability,” she told the outlet.

Some see California’s law as a crucial step toward establishing better parity in corporate leadership.

But setting quotas can be controversial, Vicki W. Kramer, lead author of the landmark 2006 study, “Critical Mass on Corporate Boards,” told CNN last month. Opponents argue that pressure from quotas will lead to unqualified female members and potential discrimination against male candidates.

When quotas are not set, however, companies may fail to diversify their ranks. She points to more “aspirational” legislation in other states, like in Pennsylvania, where a 2017 resolution urged both public and private companies to have a minimum of 30% women on their boards by 2020. But without teeth in the law, Kramer said, better numbers won’t follow.

Kramer said California’s legislation is weak compared to the laws in Norway and other European countries, which require a certain percentage of women on boards. For larger Norwegian companies, the legislation requires that women make up as much as 40% of the board.

A day after the actress and Goop founder reportedly tied the knot with television producer Brad Fulchuk in a star-studded ceremony in the Hamptons, the couple posted a photo of themselves holding hands and wearing matching gold wedding bands.
Paltrow, 46, did not caption the photo.
“It was gorgeous — the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever seen,” Paltrow’s mother, Blythe Danner, told photographers on Sunday, according to People.
Paltrow announced her engagement to Falchuk in Goop magazine’s January issue, in which she described him as the “man I was meant to be with.”
“Personally, at midlife, I have tried to accept how complex romantic love can be,” she said of their relationship. “I have decided to give it a go again, not only because I believe I have found the man I was meant to be with, but because I have accepted the soul-stretching, pattern-breaking opportunities that (terrifyingly) are made possible by intimacy.”
This is Paltrow’s second marriage.
She and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin were married for 11 years before splitting in 2014. In announcing their separation, Paltrow coined the phrase “consciously uncoupled,” which continues to be something of an internet punchline.
Paltrow and Martin had two children together, Apple and Moses.
Falchuk, 47, also has two children from a previous marriage.
The newlyweds first met in 2010 on the set of “Glee,” which Falchuk co-created and on which Paltrow guest starred.
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks watches from the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks star safety Earl Thomas suffered an injury to his left leg that forced him to get carted off the field during Sunday’s Week 4 road game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

Fox Sports NFL provided a picture of the standout defender’s exit in an air cast:

Thomas showed his frustration as the cart rode off:

Thomas, 29, has established himself as one of the best defensive backs in football and a key pillar of Seattle’s defense since being the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

Alongside cornerback Richard Sherman and fellow safety Kam Chancellor, he long made up the vaunted “Legion of Boom” secondary that was a cornerstone of Seattle’s consistently staunch defense.

The band broke up this offseason, however, after Sherman was released and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Chancellor’s future was cast in doubt this offseason, meanwhile, after a neck injury cut his 2017 season short. Ultimately, he retired.

In his first six seasons, Thomas didn’t miss a regular-season game. Injuries have become a concern in the past two years, however. Thomas missed the final five regular-season contests and the playoffs in 2016 after breaking his tibia, and a hamstring injury cost him time in 2017.

The tibia injury was severe enough that Thomas even briefly considered retirement at the end of 2016. He ultimately returned, however, registering 88 tackles and two interceptions and earning his sixth Pro Bowl appearance.

With Thomas out of action, Tedric Thompson will likely step into the starting free safety role.

“It is idiotic to put a shot clock on the F.B.I. But it is better to give professionals seven days to find facts than have no professional investigation at all,” he wrote in the op-ed published Sunday.
Comey wrote that he is confident in the FBI agents’ ability to sufficiently conduct an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct made against Kavanaugh by several women. The investigation, which was approved last week by President Donald Trump, has temporarily stalled a Senate vote on the judge’s confirmation to the high court.
“F.B.I. agents are experts at interviewing people and quickly dispatching leads to their colleagues around the world to follow with additional interviews,” he wrote. “Unless limited in some way by the Trump administration, they can speak to scores of people in a few days, if necessary.”
CNN has previously reported that a source with knowledge of the investigation said the FBI would take its direction from the White House, not the Senate, and that the agency would interview a handful of people.
FBI's Kavanaugh investigation narrow in scope

Kavanaugh’s drinking history, which has come up in the allegations, is not part of the probe being managed by the FBI’s security division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, the source said.
Comey wrote that agents will “confront people with testimony and other accounts, testing them and pushing them in a professional way. Agents have much better nonsense detectors than partisans, because they aren’t starting with a conclusion.”
Indeed, the FBI is not tasked with drawing conclusions, but, Comey wrote, “their granular factual presentation will spotlight the areas of conflict and allow decision makers to reach their own conclusions.”
He also suggested that many people whom the agents seek out for interviews will be receptive.
“Of course, the bureau won’t have subpoena power, only the ability to knock on doors and ask questions,” he wrote. “But most people will speak to them. Refusal to do so is its own kind of statement.”
Comey also took aim at the process, calling it “deeply flawed” and reasoning that if “truth were the only goal, there would be no clock, and the investigation wouldn’t have been sought after the Senate Judiciary Committee already endorsed the nominee.”
He also directly criticized Trump, who fired him from his position at the bureau in 2017, writing: “We live in a world where the president is an accused serial abuser of women, who was caught on tape bragging about his ability to assault women and now likens the accusations against his nominee to the many “false” accusations against him.”
The Senate is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination after the FBI investigation concludes sometime this week.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich runs off the field before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans seemed destined to end in a tie when the two sides were all square at 34 with 27 seconds remaining in overtime.

That’s when Colts head coach Frank Reich decided to go for 4th-and-4 from his own 43-yard line, and the result was an incompletion and incredible field position for the Texans. Houston converted it into a field goal and its first win of the season, but Reich wasn’t apologetic after the loss.

“I’ll just address it now. We’re not playing to tie. We’re going for it 10 times out of 10,” he said, per Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star.

There is something to be said for that level of aggressiveness given Indianapolis’ record was 1-2 entering the game. A record of 1-2-1 through four games isn’t an ideal recipe for playoff contention, especially in the AFC South where the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are already 3-1.

Andrew Luck was also in the middle of a vintage performance with 464 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, and going for it gave him an opportunity to win as the team’s leader and best player.

Still, Twitter wasn’t a fan of the decision:

It ultimately didn’t work out, and the Colts are facing an uphill battle to climb back into the postseason picture.

Indianapolis’ next four games come against the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders, which isn’t a daunting stretch even with the defending AFC champions included. The four teams are a combined 4-11, giving Luck and Co. a chance to bounce back from Sunday’s disheartening loss.

Look for Reich to continue his aggressiveness in those games as well given his comments.

Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party when he was a freshman at Yale, according to an account published in The New Yorker. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation.
In an interview with the magazine, Ramirez said that she realized if she ever did speak with agents for the FBI, she knew she would be questioned about some lapses in her memory, her drinking at the party and her motivation for coming forward.
The source said Ramirez supplied the FBI on Sunday with the names of witnesses.
FBI's Kavanaugh investigation narrow in scope

The revelation raises the question of whether the FBI would interview the witnesses or whether the scope of the agency’s mandate precludes them from doing so.
Christine Blasey Ford, who testified Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school, was not on the initial list of witnesses that Senate Republicans gave to the White House for the FBI to interview for Kavanaugh’s re-opened background check, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Kavanaugh was also not on that list. He has repeatedly denied Ford’s allegation.
Ford and her lawyers have not heard from the FBI, sources familiar with Ford’s legal team have told CNN.
Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, told The New York Times, “We have not heard from the FBI, despite repeated efforts to speak with them.”
Sources familiar with the investigation have said that only four people were expected to be interviewed: Mark Judge, Patrick Smyth, Leland Keyser and Deborah Ramirez. But one of the sources cautioned that the list could expand based on conversations with others.
The reason Ford and Kavanaugh might not need to be interviewed is that their accounts are already known from their sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, sources said.
President Donald Trump ordered the FBI investigation following a push from Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake on Friday. The investigation is narrow in scope and is limited to one week, although Trump has said the FBI would have “free rein” in the probe.
Ramirez’s attorney John Clune said in a statement earlier this weekend that the FBI had reached out to her and that she had agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
“It is idiotic to put a shot clock on the F.B.I. But it is better to give professionals seven days to find facts than have no professional investigation at all,” he wrote in the op-ed published Sunday.
Comey wrote that he is confident in the FBI agents’ ability to sufficiently conduct an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct made against Kavanaugh by several women. The investigation, which was approved last week by President Donald Trump, has temporarily stalled a Senate vote on the judge’s confirmation to the high court.
“F.B.I. agents are experts at interviewing people and quickly dispatching leads to their colleagues around the world to follow with additional interviews,” he wrote. “Unless limited in some way by the Trump administration, they can speak to scores of people in a few days, if necessary.”
CNN has previously reported that a source with knowledge of the investigation said the FBI would take its direction from the White House, not the Senate, and that the agency would interview a handful of people.
FBI's Kavanaugh investigation narrow in scope

Kavanaugh’s drinking history, which has come up in the allegations, is not part of the probe being managed by the FBI’s security division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, the source said.
Comey wrote that agents will “confront people with testimony and other accounts, testing them and pushing them in a professional way. Agents have much better nonsense detectors than partisans, because they aren’t starting with a conclusion.”
Indeed, the FBI is not tasked with drawing conclusions, but, Comey wrote, “their granular factual presentation will spotlight the areas of conflict and allow decision makers to reach their own conclusions.”
He also suggested that many people whom the agents seek out for interviews will be receptive.
“Of course, the bureau won’t have subpoena power, only the ability to knock on doors and ask questions,” he wrote. “But most people will speak to them. Refusal to do so is its own kind of statement.”
Comey also took aim at the process, calling it “deeply flawed” and reasoning that if “truth were the only goal, there would be no clock, and the investigation wouldn’t have been sought after the Senate Judiciary Committee already endorsed the nominee.”
He also directly criticized Trump, who fired him from his position at the bureau in 2017, writing: “We live in a world where the president is an accused serial abuser of women, who was caught on tape bragging about his ability to assault women and now likens the accusations against his nominee to the many “false” accusations against him.”
The Senate is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination after the FBI investigation concludes sometime this week.
Here’s this week’s briefing:

North Korea: Love hurts

Your recent description of your love of Kim Jong Un, based on your letter-writing exchange, will likely hurt prospects for making a successful deal with North Korea. Kim probably thinks you are less likely to take a hard line against his failure to take any actual steps toward denuclearization because you don’t want to admit that your love affair is rife with problems.
Leaving denuclearization aside, according to the United Nations, Kim continues to starve his own people and stockpile illegal chemical and biological weapons, and you’ve not taken Kim to task for either abuse recently.
 Sam Vinograd

And because North Korea is also still attacking us directly in cyberspace and trying to interfere in our elections, it also looks like you’re willingly part of an abusive relationship.
Your loving language will empower Kim and other “bad dudes” to think they can act maliciously, so long as they remember to write you a sycophantic letter while they do.

US elections: Securely insecure

With just over a month before midterms, our elections remain insecure. There are a series of threats to our physical voting infrastructure — largely unchanged from 2016 — which means there are significant opportunities for election interference. State spending on election security upgrades will take place over five years, so improvements to cybersecurity and infrastructure upgrades won’t be complete by the midterms.
Even if attempts to interfere in our elections aren’t at the level seen in 2016, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a public statement, saying the warning lights on attempts to interfere in our election are “blinking red.”
You and other members of your team have cited several countries’ activities as concerning, including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. While they may be supporting different candidates and objectives, all these countries have advanced cybercapabilities.
We know that Russia tried to interfere in the voting systems of 21 states during the 2016 election. We should assume the Russians (and other state actors) may try to exploit voting systems again moving forward, especially as it is public knowledge that they remain insecure.
Donald Trump's isolationism is a gift to his greatest enemies

Donald Trump's isolationism is a gift to his greatest enemies

While disclosures about Russian hacking attempts — against targets such as Congress, think tanks and potentially even congressional campaigns — abound, information warfare is also a popular domain. You accused China of meddling in our elections. Because you have not publicly disclosed evidence supporting that statement — other than Chinese propaganda in American media, which is not a new practice for the Chinese — analysts around the world may think you put overt Chinese propaganda in local newspapers on the same level as covert Russian cyberattacks and information warfare.
Meanwhile, physical voting systems in more than half of US states contain exploitable vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to compromise voting machines. These voting machines don’t contain enhanced security features of newer models.
This will make audits of voting machines post-election important given the high risk of tampering. And, because our defenses aren’t up to speed, clearly articulating the costs of interference so you deter enemies from election meddling may resonate with them more strongly than any reference to our defensive posture.

NATO: Say my name

We assess that Russia is likely behind efforts to try to derail Macedonia’s path to becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Macedonia tried to clear one of the hurdles in this process with a referendum on Sunday in support of officially changing its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. The name change is part of an agreement with Greece, which had previously barred Macedonia from joining the alliance — stipulating that with an official name change the objection would be dropped. In order for the vote to be valid, 50% of eligible voters had to participate. So, opponents of the name change and opponents of expanding the NATO alliance were motivated to suppress voter turnout.
In the run-up to the referendum, information warfare attacks picked up. One report found that the number of bots focused on spreading content supporting efforts to boycott Macedonia’s referendum and against politicians or officials who backed it was higher than the number of bots discussing elections in Mexico or Italy.
Russia has not taken responsibility for these information warfare attacks, and it will deny involvement. While Vladimir Putin is not the only person against the referendum — Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov is also against the name change — Putin has the motivation to launch this attack. He is opposed to anything that makes NATO bigger, stronger or more stable. He also has the skills and resources; we have previously assessed that Putin directed attacks on our 2016 elections, including by using social media, and countries like Spain have accused Russia of interfering in other referendums, like one on Catalonia’s independence.
Russia will up its game as Macedonia’s NATO membership proceeds. If the reality of a new NATO member grows, Putin may apply more direct resources to stop the process. There are allegations that Putin, for example, was behind the coup plot and assassination attempt against Montenegro’s Prime Minister while Montenegro was in the process of becoming a NATO member. Putin denies these allegations, but denial is one of his favorite words.

Iraq threat assessment

We are providing you with an updated threat assessment after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to order US diplomatic personnel to depart the US Consulate in Basra, Iraq. We assess the threat to US personnel in Iraq will increase in the weeks ahead. As Pompeo noted in his statement, threats are emanating from the “government of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, and from militias facilitated by and under the control and direction of the Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani.”
Despite statements by your team that you are after a change in regime behavior, your remarks at the United Nations last week and the newly released State Department report on the “outlaw regime” in Iran look like a campaign for regime change.
So, in addition to feeling violated because you withdrew from the Iran deal, the regime also feels under attack. Iran will probably continue to attack where it has an edge — and that’s against our people in the region.
Oakland Athletics' Khris Davis rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

John Froschauer/Associated Press

Find yourself someone as consistent as Oakland Athletics slugger Khris Davis is at hitting exactly .247 over the course of a 162-game baseball season.

Davis went 0-for-2 during Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels—the final one of the regular season—which brought his batting average to .247 for the 2018 campaign. According to Jane Lee of MLB.com, Davis has now hit .247 in four straight seasons.

While .247 isn’t a sparkling batting average, Oakland is surely more than happy with Davis’ season seeing how he drilled 48 home runs and tallied 123 RBI while helping lead the team into the postseason.

Oakland will face the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday.

Davis has never played in a postseason game in his career, but don’t be surprised if he hits .247 in his first October experience this year.