Game Comments: Buccaneers at Bears 11/23/14

Offense

  1. The Bears started in their usual fashion failing to give the ball to Matt Forte on a run play. A false start by Brandon Marshall and a drop from Marquess Wilson helped force a three and out. It was the way the half was going to go.

  2. In fairness the Bears gave the ball to Matt Forte the first play in the second possession. Ka’Deem Carey got it on the second. Coming out in the second half it seemed that they were determined to run the ball more.

  3. The Buccaneers did a good job of getting pressure on Jay Cutler. Some of it was good coverage and some of it was poor protection and some of it was Cutler just not being able to let go of the ball. But most of it was simply the Bucs dominating the line of scrimmage. They’ve got a very good defensive line and they showed up today.

  4. The Bears love that screen play to Matt Forte on third and long. It’s almost too predictable. OK, there’s no “almost” about it.

  5. Like everyone else, Jay Cutler wasn’t very sharp. His accuracy was farther off than usual.

  6. There was a lot of talk about moving Jay Cutler’s launch point more and getting him out of the pocket. If they did much of it, I missed it.

Defense

  1. It looked like the Bears came out playing mostly man-to-man defense with Kyle Fuller on Mike Evans and Tim Jennings on Vincent Jackson.

  2. Vincent Jackson is huge. He’s not just tall but he’s built like a tight end.

  3. The Bucs were picking on Lance Briggs in the underneath passing game, taking advantage of his lack of speed.

  4. The Bears gave up first downs on an awful lot of third downs. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t clamp down harder at the sticks on those plays.

  5. You could see exactly what was going to happen on the first touchdown. They sent Evans all the way to the sideline away from everyone else and it was going to be him and Fuller in press coverage all the way. Fuller even called out as if to tell everyone that they were over there but they were way too far away for him to get the help he was probably supposed to get. It was a good play by the Bucs.

  6. Though they got to McCown on occasion, to my eye the Bears weren’t applying pressure with anywhere near the consistency they needed to. They did a lot of blitzing to compensate. To their credit, they did get enough to visibly affect McCown’s game. And, of course, once they were up by 11 in the fourth quarter, they loaded up and went after him.

  7. Huge game by Stephen Paea. Jared Allen also applied more than his share of pressure.

  8. I was happy to see the defensive players pick up a ball that hit the ground and run after a Josh McCown dump off screen. It was an incomplete pass but you don’t treat it that way until you hear a whistle. That was a lesson learned, I hope.

  9. Some awful, awful tackling on the last Buccaneer drive of the first half. After some bumbling on the part of the Bucs offense it resulted in only three points.

Miscellaneous

  1. Thom Brennaman, David Diehl and Laura Okmin did the game. Brennaman was the odd ball out as both Diehl and Okmin are from Chicago. He’s from North Carolina.

    Brennaman repeatedly asked the question that typified not only the game but also the Bears season – “What’s wrong with that expensive Bears offense?” Diehl made a good point that the Bears defense was spending too much time on the field, implying that they were going to wear down latter in the game if it continued.

  2. Robbie Gould missed another field goal. He’s now officially in a slump as far as I’m concerned. He had an interesting kickoff, dropping the ball at about the twenty late in the third quarter. It could have resulted in another Bucs turnover. It was nice to see a returner on another team constantly bring the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs only to be tackled short of the twenty. A short Bears punt put the Bears defense in a difficult position 8 points down with about 3 minutes left in the game.

  3. Marquess Wilson at least two drops, one on the very first drive. Martellus Bennet had a drop on the second. There were some dropped Bears interceptions that hurt them as well.

  4. Time after time the Bears shot themselves in the foot during this game with penalties. They did it all from false starts to a blocks in the back. Lovie Smith’s team showed an uncharacteristic lack of discipline with penalties like roughing the kicker and a taunting. If possible, they were even worse than the Bears. You can certainly see why they’ve had a hard time winning games this year.

  5. Turnovers were huge in this game, especially for the Bears.

    1. Chris Conte had a very nice interception on the Bucs’ first possession. Stephen Paea deserved a lot of credit for that one as he hit Josh McCown as he threw it.

    2. Jay Cutler gave it back with a fumble of his own. Brian de la Puente at left guard got beat like a drum by Gerald McCoy on that one.

    3. Huge fumble forced by David Bass in the third quarter gave the Bears a touchdown.

    4. That was followed by and interception by Ryan Mundy deep in Buccaneer territory. That led to seven more points.

    5. Another fumble by Vincent Jackson stopped a Buccaneers drive that could have easily led to points. The officials apparently felt that it was close enough to where they couldn’t over turn the call on the field but Jackson’s elbow may have been down.

  6. I’ve been thinking about it. I think I’d take David Diehl more seriously if he lost the mustache. Well, that and if he started pronouncing the names of the Bears players correctly.

  7. Well, you could copy what I said about the Bears offense last week and paste it here. The special teams only hurt them a moderately badly with the short punt near the end of the game so you can mark that down as an improvement.

  8. As embarrassing as it is to have the Packers put up 50 on you, there’s little doubt that the defense has been saving the season for this team. That, and the tendency of teams like the Buccaneers to hand them the game. The Bears are bad but they aren’t so bad that they’re going to ordinarily refuse gifts. That’s what this game was. A present of dumb penalties, turnovers and undisciplined play. Merry Christmas.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 1 Comment

Bears Matchup Poorly Against the Bucs and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune asks the question of the week in regards to Sunday’s Vikings game:

    “[Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler admitted the Bears knew to challenge [5’10” Josh] Robinson more than fellow Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who at 6-1 and 210 pounds is much more physical. The bigger question is why the Vikings offered up so many looks with only one deep safety as well as the man-to-man coverages the Bears’ passing attack is designed to thrive against.”

    Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer undoubtedly overestimated his defense coming off two wins and underestimated the Bears offense coming off of two miserable defeats. That’s not going to happen again and I’m sure we’ll see something different when the Bears visit the Vikings later in the season.

  • Probably the biggest surprise I got on Sunday was the distinct difference in talent level between the Bears and the Vikings. I hadn’t seen much of the Vikings this year and I was led to believe that their recent drafts had brought them up to a level that was getting close to being on par with the rest of the division. But even as the Vikings took an early 10-0 lead it was evident that wasn’t the case. The Bears had far more talent on both sides of the ball and won the one-on-one matchups all over the field. It was apparent that if they didn’t give the game away that they were the better team.

Overall the Vikings played better and with more discipline than the Bears, probably reflective of some good coaching. And maybe with Adrian Peterson in the lineup, things would have been different. But that aside I still think they have a long way to go before they are going to be able to consistently compete with the Packers, Lions and even the Bears.

  • I thought this excerpt from Brad Biggs‘s Ten Thoughts column at the Chicago Tribune was interesting:

    “…veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff was practically poking his ears inside the Minnesota huddle and then communicating with his line mates. I asked Ratliff if he had picked up something in terms of the signals.

    “‘Why would you ask me that,’ Ratliff said.

    “I told him what I saw and he replied: ‘Whatever tidbits or any information you can get, you use. If there is poor huddle integrity, I try to take advantage of that. Maybe that is what you saw. That is not uncommon. Once you hear certain calls, you know the formations they should be in. After a while you develop the ability to read their body language and see where the ball is going. You will have a pretty good idea if it is good info or not. You have to echo the call.’

    “Of course, if a team uses a dummy call it could set a defense up for a big play but Ratliff says you know what information you’re processing if you have been doing it long enough.”

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribunewrites about the challenge that Bears head coach Marc Trestman is facing to his leadership philosophy this season:

    “‘One of Marc’s greatest values is leadership — leadership of men, leadership of programs, leadership of people,’ said tight ends coach Andy Bischoff, one of Trestman’s closest confidants. ‘I would just say when you’re not winning, that’s an easy target.'”

    That’s true enough. But most people have a tough time with self-discipline. Trestman might be one of the few people out there who doesn’t. He’s going to have to realize that everyone isn’t like him. The team won’t really be disciplined unless he imposes it form the top.

    I thought the comments of right tackle Michael Ola may have been the most interesting:

    “‘Tres’ job is to have us understand what we’re supposed to do from a schematic standpoint and assignment standpoint, alignment and adjustment,’ he said. ‘Our job is to execute that. Where the disconnect is is somewhere between when it comes in my ear and when I get on the field, and I have to do it.'”

    In other words the players aren’t in the right frame of mind when they hit the field. It’s the coach’s job to put them there.

  • Someone needs to tell Brandon Marshall to delete that damned Twitter account and concentrate on doing his job.
  • Biggs answers your questions:

    “Was that the Bears’ best offensive line combination last week? — @TomOMalley23 from Twitter

    “I don’t think so. For starters, left guard Matt Slauson is out of the lineup and given the choice between him or center Brian de la Puente playing guard in a pinch, you’re going to go with Slauson every time.

    “I thought Michael Ola struggled in the run game, too. On the plays where Matt Forte was stopped for no gain or a very short gain, Ola struggled. Vikings defensive tackle Shariff Floyd beat him on a handful of occasions. Ola has shown real versatility in playing three positions but a healthy Jordan Mills is a better option at right tackle, in my opinion, and the Bears are going to go back to Mills at right tackle when he is healthy. That might not happen this week as he’s still slowed by a rib injury.

    “That being said, the line did a pretty nice job against a Vikings defense that has had success rushing the passer this season. Quarterback Jay Cutler was in concert with the line and the offense moved the ball efficiently.”

    Agreed on all counts. The Bears offensive line generally struggles with blocking the run and that was made worse with Slauson out. There was a lot of talk early in the season about de la Puente permanently taking the center position from the injured Roberto Garza but I think we all know now that the Bears are better off with the 35 year old Garza in that spot. Calling Mills better than Ola at right tackle is like being the tallest man in a land of midgets. I’d say that the Bears will be in the market for a right tackle and, maybe, a center next year.

  • Similarly, I thought Hub Arkush‘s answer here at chicagofootball.com was on point:

    “From @kirk_skaja: What have you seen from Shea McClellin to suggest he could play the middle linebacker position in the NFL?

    “McClellin has shown the ability to finish when he gets to the ball and he can be sudden and rush the passer when given a free run. He struggles from a lack of natural power, can’t shed blockers and is not good when asked to play in space. Middle linebacker would allow him the most freedom to move with the tackles in front of him most often eating blockers, most of his plays would be made in a confined area between the tackles, saving him from playing in space, and well-timed blitzes from the middle give him the best chance at a free run to the QB as opposed to trying to come off or around the edge. I don’t see a great NFL future for McClellin at any position, but the ‘Mike’ minimizes most of his weaknesses.”

    I think most of us have concluded that if McClellin is going to succeed anywhere now, it will be in the middle. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s what the Bears have in mind and the bet here is that he stays on the strong side until he either succeeds or GM Phil Emery is fired.

One Final Thought

Quarterback Jay Cutler basically acknowledges his limitations with this quote. Via Campbell:

“‘[The Bucs are]  going to keep the ball in front of them,’ Cutler said. ‘They’re going to zone you out — not a ton of man. They’re going to rely on that front four to get the pressure, bring some pressure from time to time. So we’re just going to have to control the ball, run the ball. We’re going to be throwing into zone coverages, so find your check downs and just try to keep the chains moving.'”

Heaven forbid you might use some of the standard cover-2 beaters that teams all over the league execute when they see this kind of coverage on a consistent basis. But Cutler, a “see-it-throw-it” quarterback, is far too limited to be able to pull off such plays. If you aren’t throwing a “go up and get it ball”, a hook where the receiver can use his body to shield the defender or a check down to a running back or a tightend, he’s out of his depth. So you are left hoping that you can run the ball against such a defense (which is hard to do if you are 21 points down in the first quarter) or you are out of luck.

I hate this match up from a schematic stand point. The Bears have struggled with two deep zones all season and I see little reason to believe that they will do better tomorrow. If this isn’t a game dominated by defense, the Bears may be in trouble.

Unfortunately, on the other side, with two good, tall receivers who will be difficult to cover one-on-one, a zone defense for the Bears is optimal. But the 2014 Bears aren’t generally fast enough or disciplined enough to play zone for most of a game and teams have been carving them up when they’ve done it since the preseason.

The only game left on the schedule after this one that the Bears might be favored to win is the last one against the Vikings – and that’s not a given with it being on the road. They need this one if for no other reason than to prevent the season from going further off the rails. But I really doubt they’re going to get it unless they show me something I haven’t seen yet in week 11.

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Game Comments: Vikings at Bears 11/16/14

Defense

  1. Surprisingly the Bears came out playing the pass with seven in the box, allowing the Vikings running game to get going.
  2. It looked to me like the Bears came out well prepared scheme-wise this week. They looked like they had done a good job of studying the Vikings tendencies and that they were on top of what they were doing. Nice work.
  3. It was hard to tell much about Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater because they were being careful not to ask too much of him. But he was plenty accurate and considerably more composed than veteran Jay Cutler was for the Bears. Despite all we’ve heard and read about the Vikings success in the draft, it looks to me like he needs more talent around him. He’s been struggling with throws outside the numbers and he did so again today. I also expected his arm to be stronger. Nevertheless he shows promise.
  4. Kudos to Jared Allen who was matched up against Matt Kalil, who has been struggling all year. Allen looked great coming off of the end, beating Kalil regularly.
  5. Really, the entire defensive line played well. On the other side, the Vikings offensive line looks like a serious weakness. They were losing one-on-ones and blowing assignments, allowing blitzers to get to Bridgewater. That’s a bad combination if you are a Vikings fan.
  6. Nice work from the defensive back today a well. Bridgewater had a really hard time finding receivers beyond 7 yards or so. The linebackers were where they needed to be as well. Everyone was aggressive. Lance Briggs looked particularly good.

Offense

  1. I’m surprised that the Bears came out throwing. With all of the (justified) criticism about not getting the ball to Matt Forte, I expected to see more running plays in the initial set of downs. It looked like Cutler might have been simply counting the men in the box and running when he thought it was favorable. That’s fine but it can make you one dimensional.
  2. Some poor tackling out there by the Vikings.
  3. A lot of screens this week as the Bears apparently were trying to attack the edges and neutralize the Minnesota pass rush. As opposed to attacking the middle of the field. More evidence that we’re looking at a finesse offense that can’t attack with a physical front (in contrast to what GM Phil Emery believes they can do). In fairness, they executed them well.
  4. The Vikings started to blitz quite a bit late in the first quarter and early in the second. The Bears did a good job of picking it up and it didn’t hurt that they were doing a lot of short quick passing. It was pretty ineffective and they eventually stopped doing it.
  5. The Vikings did a much better job against the run in the second half.
  6. Heck of a pass from Jay Cutler to Alshon Jeffery for the Bears first score in the second quarter. Jermon Bushrod let Cutler feel the pressure and Cutler had to escape to extend the play.
  7. Speaking of Bushrod, he struggled mightily this game. The Bears left him one-on-one with Everson Griffin quite a bit early. He was over-matched.
  8. The Vikings did a good job of moving Cutler off of the mark but Cutler was able to step up in the pocket and often escaped to make a play.
  9. Anthony Barr is a good looking player. He’s quick, he’s in the right spots and on top of plays. I was impressed.
  10. I really didn’t think the Vikings did enough to stop Alshon Jeffery. He needed to be double covered more often. Or at least the Safety needed to provide more help.
  11. Really a nice drive by the offense at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a very nice catch for a touchdown to cap it. They ate almost half of the quarter away.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon and Stacey Dales were surprisingly good. Well, Harlan’s always good. But Dales actually added a bit to the telecast giving a candid report about the mood from the Bears sideline early. I thought perhaps that she got a bit more than the usual amount of face time for a side line reporter. Gannon impressed me after diagraming out the Bears second quarter touchdown. He frequently ready my mind as he broke down the team play, particularly the quarterback play. He also endeared himself to Bears fans with criticism of the non-aggressive way that the Bears approached the end of the first half, essentially running the clock out.
  2. What was going on with the initial chip shot on the opening kickoff? Is Cordarrelle Patterson that dangerous? Robbie Gould missed a field goal in the first quarter. They gave up forty-nine yards on a fake punt as no one did their job by staying at home and sealing the end. That resulted in seven points. Return teams were subpar. Gould kicked off the ball out of bounds midway through the fourth quarter to give the Vikings some life at the 40 yard line.Honestly, all I want is for the special teams not to totally kill this team. Is that so much to ask?
  3. Let’s see… In the first set of possessions:
    1. Willie Young had an offsides on the first set of downs and eliminated a stop. It cost the Bears three points.
    2. An illegal formation call eliminated a first down in the Bears initial possession.
    3. That was compounded by a Kyle Long false start.
    4. Then Jay Cutler got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty right after that.

    All of that added up to a missed field goal. Another great start.

    Its unbelievable how undisciplined this team is this late in the season. Far, far too many penalties. A young Vikings team did a much better job.

  4. Two interceptions from Cutler and the second could have been a killer as the Bears defense had just stopped the Vikings backed up near their goal line. Fortunately the Vikings somehow found a way to waste the break and miss the field goal. A better team would have scored a potentially demoralizing touchdown.Bridgewater threw one under pressure trying to make a play with about a minute left. I understand the tendency but that’s won you keep in your pocket. There was still plenty of time to get the needed touchdown.
  5. I’m usually not much of a second guesser and maybe its just me but don’t you take the field goal to go up by seven in the third quarter rather than going for it on fourth and one? I guess when you’ve got three wins you’ve got nothing to lose.
  6. The NFL needs more Kate Upton commercials. Way more.
  7. You take a win when you can get it but, really, the Vikings had no business being in this game. The talent gap between these teams was pretty big. The Bears dominated both sides of the ball but their undisciplined play on offense and on special teams continues to be disturbing. I might add that there wasn’t much fancy in a vanilla game plan on either side of the ball. That works when you are going up against a definitively inferior opponent but it isn’t very encouraging for the future. Frankly, I’m not sure they’re capable of executing anything more complicated right now.

    Having said that, kudos to a much maligned defense that played aggressively and dominated the line of scrimmage. The linebackers and defensive backs were aggressive, tackled well and were fast to the ball. It was as good as they’ve looked since Lovie Smith was fired.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, Minnesota Vikings | Leave a comment

The Value of Hope and Other Points of View

Bears

  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune has a point:

    “‘We’ve got to … put the San Francisco game on, the Jets game on and see why we were able to play four quarters against Atlanta in competitive football games,’ [head coach Marc] Trestman said.

    “No need for videotape to remember why the Bears won those games. For starters, the 2-8 Jets and 3-6 Falcons stink. And the 49ers gifted the Bears the victory when quarterback Colin Kaepernick ‘Cutler-ized’ his offense by committing four turnovers. To hear Trestman wax poetically about those victories, the Bears beat the Broncos, Seahawks and ’72 Dolphins.”

    In fact, the opponent handed the Bears all three games on a silver platter. It wasn’t a question of who played better. It was who played worse.

    Perhaps the biggest misconception that Bears fans and, apparently, the Bears themselves have about this team is that they are inconsistent. They are, in fact, very consistent. It’s the teams they play that determine their fate.

    As to the rest of Haugh’s column, I don’t put much stock in calling for firing Marc Trestman or any of the coaches mid-season. My view tends to match that of Brad Biggs, also at the Chicago Tribune:

    “Midseason shakeups rarely are successful in the NFL. If defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is blamed and sent packing, I don’t know that that will accomplish anything. Someone needs to answer for these repeated failures, but canning Tucker and moving to the next guy looks a lot like Lovie Smith laying blame on offensive coordinator after offensive coordinator and moving on without ever sustaining success.”

    Biggs is right but I will say this. Someone needs to identify what’s wrong before it can be fixed. Based upon what’s coming out of Trestman’s mouth, right now no one can do that. If that’s true, then they’re eventually going to have to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

    Fans live on hope. Its hard to do that when your head coach is “confounded” and “disturbed” and admits that he can’t understand why their great practices don’t translate on to the field. If someone doesn’t do something, faithful fan base or no, there won’t be many of them left in the stands come December.

  • Biggs continues:

    “The other question worth exploring was whether Trestman believed the roster had enough talent to compete.

    “‘The only thing I am going to say to you is we’re not good enough right now,’ [Trestman] replied. ‘As I told our players, there is a good team in there somewhere because we have seen signs of it this year. We’re not a good team right now.'”

    I’ve said this before but its worth repeating. When you watch this team live the first thing you notice is how slow they are on defense, especially at linebacker. Whatever the problems are on offense, that’s where I’d start on defense. It’s not going to be a quick fix.

  • Biggs also quotes left tackle Jermon Bushrod on how the Packer’s defense managed to dominate the Bears:

    “‘They did a lot more movement than they did in the first game,’ Bushrod said. ‘In the first game we were able to dissect everything and figure everything out. They were running line games and T-E’s (tackle-end twists) and run plays. That is something we don’t really see much. We tried to make the necessary adjustments and then they would bring something else. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

    This is what’s so frustrating about being a Bears fan (or the fan of any bad team) right now. You see what other teams do, playing multiple fronts and coverages and executing it to the point where the opposition is in total disarray. You want that for your team. But you watch the Bears and they can’t execute even the simplest plays without something going wrong. Multiple fronts? They can’t even successfully execute a pre-snap change from cover two to cover three.

    We can talk about lack of talent but this is lack of preparation and coaching. Players are simply not in the right mindset when they hit the field and what they do on the practice field doesn’t translate to the game. There’s simply no other explanation.

    I’m not a coach and I don’t know how you fix it. But I’m tired of seeing the Packers do it time and again as they find a way to win while the Bears couldn’t execute their way out of a paper bag. Never has the difference between the Bears and the elite organizations in the NFL been so apparent.

    Yes. I haven’t been this frustrated with the team in quite a while.

  • Biggs on the move that wasn’t of Jordan Mills from right tackle to left guard:

    “‘That is why we shuffled one day, we looked at it,’ [offensive line coach Pete] Meyer said. ‘He did a nice job; it just wasn’t natural. It would have been different probably if it was the right side because he wouldn’t have to shift his stance.

    “‘We’re gonna work with him in the offseason and he wants to do it, too. It’s something we’re going to look at just like we’re working different combinations right now because of the position we’re in. The offseason is a good time to do it.'”

    Mills’s move was precipitated by the loss of Matt Slauson for the remainder of the season. If they move Mills to guard in the offseason, who sits?

  • I’m not looking forward to seeing what New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees might do to that Bears defense.
  • What the hell is wrong with you people?

One Final Thought

Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Tribune gets credit for the best quote of the week:

“The team has been put together more as a fantasy football squad than a living, breathing entity. An assistant coach for a recent opponent called them the ‘biggest collection of front-runners in the NFL.'”

Couldn’t agree more. I’m sure the assistant coach had Jay Cutler particularly in mind when he said because he’s the classic example of someone who goes as the team goes, not the other way around. But it probably applies to a large part of the rest of them. Packers receiver Randall Cobb may have put it best:

“We knew that if we got up early on them, they may lay down on us.”

This team needs leadership and a large infusion of pride and guts in the worst way.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Points of View | Leave a comment

Game Comments: Bears at Packers 11/9/14

There’s absolutely nothing I could possible say here that wouldn’t be a waste of both your time and mine.

See you next week.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, Green Bay Packers | Leave a comment

The Best News You’ve Heard All Week. And Other Points of View.

Bears

  • I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this. But Patrick Finley and Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times report that there are “Lovie guys” in the locker room who, apparently, still haven’t moved on.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on a national report that the Bears are in a shambles and that “the organization feared for Trestman’s job”.

    “It is bad form among reporters to judge their peers or challenge the veracity of their reporting short of a flat out violation of journalistic ethics, so I will forgo comment on the reporter in question.

    “I will however respectfully suggest he might want to reconsider his sources before his next big scoop.”

    I’m under no such restriction. The report was from Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports. And since we pretty much all know that Arkush is around the team almost every day and that he, more than reporter in Chicago, wouldn’t hesitate to confirm that the Bears were actually in such a state, I’d say its likely that La Canfora doesn’t have a clue about what he’s talking about.

  • Brandon Marshall‘s brother, Bijon Massie-Marshall sounds like a bright fellow. From the Tribune. The emphasis is mine:

    “Citing court records, the channel said Massie-Marshall is alleged to have stolen a car in Colorado’s Douglas County while on probation in June 2013, and that county prosecutors filed charges for aggravated motor vehicle theft in May 2014. It said he was arrested in June and posted bond in August.

    He is then accused of robbing an elderly Denver woman at her home in October with what appeared to be a handgun. 9NEWS said Massie-Marshall was arrested, bonded out, and that four days later he was wearing a GPS tracker when he allegedly robbed a store with what appeared to be a handgun. He was arrested again on Oct. 21.”

    Insert comment about similarity between brothers here.

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune addresses what the Bears need to do on defense to make the Packers game more competitive this time around:

    “In Week 4, [Packers quarterback Aaron] Rodgers completed 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. His 151.2 passer rating that game stands as the third-best of his career.

    “The Bears repeatedly tried to rush four and drop seven in coverage, but defenders couldn’t get off blocks and Rodgers dissected the Bears’ zone coverage. Cornerbacks on the perimeter consistently allowed Packers receivers cushions of at least five yards, and that enabled Rodgers’ quick-passing game.

    “Bears coaches have said they plan to adjust the defensive game plan, but Trestman emphasized the unchanged reality that rush and coverage must work together.”

    The guess here is that they’ll mix it up more and we’ll see more man-to-man. Certainly they’ll probably try hard to disguise the defense. But, as Trestman implies, its still going to come down to the pass rush from the front four. You’re not going to get anywhere against Rogers by blitzing him over much.

  • Here’s the best news you’ve heard all week. Every single Tribune writer (not counting Steve Rosenbloom) picked the Packers. There’s not a chance in hell the Bears lose this one.

Elsewhere

  • The Lions are gaining a lot of respect around the league and the #5 ranking that Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has given them is representative of that. Biggs has the Packers at #10. It’s going to be interesting to see how the division shakes out and if they can improve themselves and play to their talent level, the Bears are going to have a chance to play spoiler here. They’ve got two left against the Lions after this week’s Packers game. The Packers might be glad their games against the Bears came closer to the first half of the season than the last half. To my eye the Vikings are getting better as the season rolls on, too. Star running back Adrian Peterson could still be back in uniform this season.

One Final Thought

Biggs answers your questions:

“Does anyone remember that Packers coach Mike McCarthy was 8-8, 13-3 and 6-10 in his first three seasons in Green Bay? Are we not completely jumping the gun on voicing our severe displeasure in this Bears team?
– Todd Y., Melbourne, Australia, from email

“I’d agree there has been a rush to judge the Bears, coach Marc Trestman and GM Phil Emery after a half-season. That means half of the season remains and it is certainly worth seeing how this plays out. The team has been hit with some injuries, no question, but find me a team across the league that isn’t in the same position.

“I don’t know if a comparison to McCarthy is appropriate here. For starters, the Bears are not going to reach 13 wins this season. The six-win season for McCarthy, the worst season he’s had, came when Aaron Rodgers was in his first season as the starter and Green Bay was hit with a slew of significant injuries.”

Aaron Rogers aside, the Bears are considerably more talented than Green Bay is or ever was under McCarthy. I wasn’t as high on the Bears this year as most fans but even I wouldn’t hesitate to say that they are under-achieving. I’m not sure that McCarthy’s teams did.

Having said that, we can hope that the Bears will have a better second half. Hell, what else can we do?

Posted in Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Points of View | Leave a comment

The Season Isn’t Over. Yet. And Other Points of View.

Bears

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Bears safety Ryan Mundy after the Bears blow out loss to the Patriots last Sunday:

    “‘We’re definitely frustrated, ­upset and disappointed — all those emotions,’ Mundy said. ‘We’ve just got to stick together — that’s the most important thing. At times like this, it’s really easy to have the worst in people come out, especially with all the arrows that are being thrown our way. Our job as a team is to stick together.'”

    There’s a lot of truth to that, of course. But more importantly I think your job as a team is to do your job as individuals. Right now its pretty rare to find a play where all 11 guys have been doing that. Tight end Martellus Bennett might have put it best (via Patrick Finley, also at the Chicago Sun-Times):

    “‘It’s not just Jay [Cutler]. It’s the offensive line. It’s the running backs. It’s the tight ends. It’s the wide receivers. He’s the quarterback, so everybody always looks at him. But we have to make sure all the guys around there are doing their jobs.

    “‘Jay does his job, we do our jobs and we’re O.K. I think that’s the biggest thing: that everyone around has to look at themselves. I’m not here to judge Jay or talk about Jay. I only can look in the mirror and see what I have to do and what I can do better to help my teammates out. And that’s what it’s really about.'”

  • From Brad Biggs‘s film review in the Chicago Tribune:

    “Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner had their way with [Brandon] Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The duo combined for only 72 receiving yards before Cutler was pulled. Marshall was unable to create separation and Jeffery didn’t fare much better.”

    Miami’s Cortland Finnegan also blanketed Marshall the week before allowing double coverage on Jeffery for much of that game. This is a major issue. I’m wondering if Marshall is still hurt. He has that look about him. Biggs would seem to agree:

    “Maybe it is a sign that Marshall, while healthy, isn’t all the way back from that ankle injury. But who knows what to believe? One week he feels explosive. The next week he says the injury should have kept him out a month. But it is one of the issues plaguing an offense that is short on explosive plays.”

    In any case if these two don’t start getting open more, the Bears season will end even worse than most fans suspect at this point.

  • I’m sure everyone has pictures of this billboard. But just in case:

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com answers your questions:

    “From @imx007: What’s the chance (the) Bears owners follows lead of the Blackhawks and Cubs and actually put real football people in?

    Ted Phillips is the team President and he has no football background at all. He is a very good accountant and was the team’s finance guy when Virginia McCaskey replaced her oldest son Michael with him. Actually, Michael was elevated to Chairman of the Board and Philips became President but the net effect was to move the family out of the day-to-day operations of the team. To Phillips’ credit, his first major move was to change Michael’s policy of not having a GM;…[Jerry] Angelo and [Phil] Emery were and are football people. The two questions are: 1. Are/were they the right football people; and 2. Should they be reporting to a football person? The first answer is it’s starting to look uncertain, but it’s still too soon to give up on Emery. The answer to number two, I think, is most definitely yes.”

    There’s a flaw in this logic in that ultimately a non-football person has to decide which football person to hire. I see little difference between Phillips doing it in collaboration with ownership and ownership simply doing it on their own.

    In the end, Phil Emery is making the football decisions. I don’t have a problem with that. As Arkush says, its a little early to tell, but I think the team’s drafts have gotten decidedly better, especially at the top, under his leadership. Whether Marc Trestman was the right hire as head coach is debatable but there is certainly a lot to like about him as an offensive mind and quarterback coach. I applauded this hire at the time for exactly those reasons. We’ll just have to wait and see if his leadership style either catches hold with the team or changes with the circumstances.

  • Biggs makes the point that the biggest adjustment that the Bears have to make in the second half is to get the running game in order. This is one traditional way to beat the zone defenses the Bears have been seeing this year:

    “There’s too much window dressing to the ground game and not enough brawn and muscle. Alshon Jeffery coming in motion on a fake jet sweep isn’t leaving opposing defensive coaches studying film deep into the night. The Bears must commit to running rough, dominating the line of scrimmage.

    “‘We have an offensive line that can block the run,’ Trestman said. ‘And we have a very good running back.'”

    The latter is definitely true. Whether the former is true is yet to be seen.

  • Honestly, does anyone care what Michael Irvin thinks?

One Final Thought

Could this possibly be the ever cynical Hub Arkush that we’ve come to know and love?

“From @mosconml: Let’s not kid ourselves, the playoff hopes are done. Who’s looking good at MLB, SS and FS in the draft?

“Well, first of all you’re wrong. In my preseason predictions, I had the Bears at 4-5 coming out of Lambeau, and winning six of their last seven to go 10-6 and claim a wild card. I don’t feel that way anymore, but to say it’s no longer possible is just wrong. Apparently you haven’t been watching the NFL recently. Two weeks ago the Saints were done at 2-4 and now they’re in first place in the NFC South. Many times even 9-7 can get you into the playoffs. I hate what the Bears have done so far like everyone else, but let’s let it play out at least three more weeks before we bury them.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Points of View | Leave a comment

What Leadership Looks Like

Some rube wrote in with this question for Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

“Is any player stepping up to provide leadership on that side of the ball? — Tom S., Chicago, from email”

“I thought Jared Allen did a really good job of addressing this issue so let’s hear from him first on this:

“‘I don’t want this to sound bad,’ Allen said Wednesday afternoon at Halas Hall. ‘We talk about leader. What does that look like to people? I think we have great leaders here. Leaders don’t necessarily have to stand up at the podium and make some big speech. Matter of fact, if someone gets up every week and has to have, ‘Coach is out, let’s have a (meeting),’ that’s lame honestly. What’s that gonna do? That is rah-rah.

“‘Leadership comes from the guys that show up every week, go out and work during practice, be in their playbook, they know what they are doing, go out on Sunday and they give it everything they’ve got. Leaders, in my opinion, you don’t know what they do. You don’t know what is said behind closed doors to someone. You don’t know if someone is struggling; a true leader will go and talk to them in private.”

“‘So I think that is what we do well with this team. So I would say we have good leadership. Maybe from the outside looking in you guys are looking for a vocal person with an ‘S’ on his chest to do something but those aren’t the guys typically I find people respond to.'”

“Now, I don’t know if I agree with Allen that the Bears have the best leadership possible on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of folks have been writing wondering when the next Mike Brown is going to wander along and grab everyone’s attention by exclaiming, ‘We suck!’ That Brown speech made a lot of fans happy. It acknowledged things were not going well. It didn’t do anything to the product on the field on Sundays.”

Like many of the fans that Biggs is speaking about, I had Mike Brown in mind when I was thinking of this question. But in fairness to myself, I also had Brian Urlacher in mind. Urlacher would have been the last person to proclaim “We suck” but there’s little doubt that teammates considered him to be a team leader and they looked to him in many different ways to be that.

The first part of Biggs’s response after the Allen quote was what I was after. I totally acknowledge that leadership demonstrates itself in many different ways but the one thing that has to be true is that everyone has to look to that guy to lead the way. He has to be the guy that others gravitate toward who can help pull them together into a unit in times where its needed. It takes a unique combination of both personality and on-field ability. I don’t see it and I haven’t read anything other than general comments similar to Allen’s to make me think that someone is doing a lot of it in ways that I wouldn’t see.  It has been a serious issue for this team and, as far as I can tell, its going to continue to be a serious issue.

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Bears to Get Run Game Going as Packers Try to Stop It

John Mullin at csnchicago.com thinks that the move of Michael Ola to right tackle will improve the Bears run game:

“Coaches were clearly pleased with the results in the run game with Ola at right tackle. Matt Forte rushed for 114 yards against the Patriots to go with 33 from Ka’Deem Carey, together averaging nearly six yards per carry.

“And since Trestman laid out the intention to balance the offense better, Ola is the presumptive right tackle until further notice.

“‘We got to do a better job of [balance] because we have offensive line that can block the run and we’ve got a very good running back,’ Trestman said. ‘We’ve got to do that.'”

If they’ve got an offensive line that can run block they sure haven’t shown it the last two years. Maybe Ola can make the difference on the right side.

Its also fairly clear that running the ball is something the Bears are going to have to do if they want to beat the Packers coming off of the bye. The Saints burned the Packers for 193 yards on the ground last Sunday and Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy sounded none to happy about it. Via Rob Demovsky at ESPN.com:

“‘We need to tackle the damn ball carrier and put him on the ground. That’s what we’ll be focused on.’

“McCarthy and his staff have the bye week to figure out if they can salvage their run defense, which has not ranked higher than 30th at any point during in the first half of the season and slipped back to 32nd (last) after Sunday’s 44-23 loss.

“‘The run defense was our Achilles’ heel clearly on defense,’ McCarthy said. ‘Too many missed tackles.'”

Missed tackles and dropped passes were problems last year with the Packers and despite devoting much of the offseason to solving the latter problem, it’s still there this year as well. We’ll have to wait two weeks to see how much help they are going to give the Bears.

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Game Comments: Bears at Patriots 10/26/14

Offense

  1. The Bears came out running right away. The Patriots didn’t even disguise the fact that they knew it was coming, putting an extra guy in the box from the get go.
  2. Quarterback Jay Cutler was not accurate again this game, making his targets work for their catches when they could reach them.
  3. The Patriots did a very good job of covering the Bears underneath and limiting yards after the catch. So the Bears were having a tough time even getting their usual yards between the 20s.
  4. Having said that, the Bears did get some room for Matt Forte to catch some balls out of the backfield in the second quarter. It resulted in a touchdown.
  5. Half time adjustments included throwing the ball more to Brandon Marshall. Again. When we we be at a point where they’ll do that from the beginning and that won’t have to be an adjustment anymore?  By the way it didn’t work.  What else is new?
  6. The Bears also came out aggressive after the half. The Patriots weren’t exactly in a prevent defense but it was obvious that they were playing softer to prevent big plays that might let the bears back into the game.
  7. Nice catch from Martellus Bennett for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter.
  8. The offensive line was particularly bad in protection today. Stunts, blitzes, it didn’t matter. They weren’t picking anything up. It didn’t help that Cutler was missing some reads.
  9. Having said that, the run blocking wasn’t below average and Matt Forte had his usual good game.

Defense

  1. The Bears came out in nickel and were apparently not prepared to get run over. Which is what happened. Again. In fairness they did eventually stop the bleeding later in the first half through the end of the game though it was at the expense of their pass defense.
  2. Having established the run early, Tom Brady did pretty much whatever he wanted in the passing game with play action.
  3. What’s interesting is that the nickel didn’t even work. It was undoubtedly meant to stop the Patriots from passing to secondary receivers but the match up of Rob Gronkowski on Ryan Mundy wasn’t even close.
  4. Brady was extremely accurate hitting even well covered receivers in areas where they could catch it.
  5. It doesn’t seem fair that the Bears make a great goal line stand at the beginning of the fourth quarter, stopping the Patriots on fourth down, only to have to give up a field goal due to a field goal because of a Patriots penalty. Give the Bears defense credit for being ready for the no huddle and to run back on the field on a last second switch by the Patriots to go for it on fourth down.
  6. Chris Conte had some good open field tackles.
  7. I like Al Louis-Jean’s potential allot. But Brandon LaFell ate him alive.
  8. Not that it matters but it certainly did seem to me like the Bears got screwed on the Gronkowski touchdown near the end of the first half. Gronkowski dropped that ball.
  9. The injury to Lamarr Houston. [head shake]

Miscellaneous

  1. I had no unusual problems with Sam Rosen, John Lynch and Pam Oliver. They are what they are and they were what they usually are. Lynch was, perhaps, sharper than he was last time we saw him making, some good observations that fans might have missed. For example, he pointed out that Forte’s touchdown in the second quarter resulted from a route adjustment by the running back. He also pointed out that Cutler was staring down receivers like a rookie again this week.Then, of course, there was that wonderful moment in the broadcast when Joel Nobody sent the audience back after an update from the Houston-Tennessee game to “the Patriots versus Southwest Missouri State”. Hilarious.
  2. Some poor punting in the first quarter didn’t help the Bears offense out much. The coverage teams struggled, too. The Patriots first punt was near the end of the third quarter so not much that can be said there.
  3. The Bears didn’t have many obvious drops. Alshon Jeffery had a very bad one on fourth and 10 to stop a drive at the beginning of the first half. The Patriots got away with dropping too many this week but they’ll eventually want to clean that up.
  4. A holding call on Martellus Bennet effectively stopped the first drive forcing the Bears to pass when they were trying to establish the run. Matt Slauson got the Bears offense off to an awesome start on the second series with an immediate false start. It was all a part of a great beginning to a great game. And all part of yet another game where the Bears committed too many of them. I’m sure that the Patriots will hear about it from head coach Bill Belichick as well and they had more than their share, too.The officiating was bad. Which is the new normal. Maybe its just all part and parcel of a bad day but an awful lot of those bad calls seemed to go the Patriots’ way. They really didn’t need the help.
  5. You guys think Jay Cutler turns the ball over too much? Try Geno Smith with three INTs against the Bills. In the first quarter.Of course, that doesn’t excuse Cutler. It isn’t the reason they lost but how Cutler could have dropped the ball at the end of the first half, resulting in a Patriots recovery for a touchdown, I simply can’t understand. I know he was trying to throw the football but come on, man. Can’t you just limit the damage and get the hell out of there?
  6. As a NFL fan the phases you go through as you watch a definitive loss to a better opponent from beginning to end are very similar to the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I went through them all. In the first quarter and a half.After that it was all total embarrassment.
Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, New England Patriots | Leave a comment