The Bears game plan was pretty solid. They came out running and throwing the short pass to protect the offensive line in pass protection.
The Rams came out in a standard 4-3 and played that for most of the game. They did blitz quite a bit when the situation called for it. This is different from the coverage defense they played in their first two games. It didn’t seem to discombobulate the Bears, too much though. The Bears countered by throwing a number of very effective screen passes, once again protecting the line in the process.
It has to be noted that the pass protection really still wasn’t that good in that the Rams still got occasional pressure in passing situations. The Bears offensive line was jumpy as a result and there were a number of false start and holding penalties, some of which were rather damaging (see Miscellaneous).
Eventually the Rams starting bringing extra guys into the box to stop the run. This was effective to a degree but it didn’t really stop the Bears from doing it.
Michael Bush ran well in place of Matt Forte as expected. Kahlil Bell also ripped off some good runs.
Like many of the linemen, Chilo Rachal had a rough afternoon with some missed blocks and some penalties.
4th and 1 with about 3 minutes left in the first quarter and Bush gets it. That’s a lot different from last year.
I spotted the Rams putting five defenders on the line of scrimmage though not often. I thought it was interesting, though. Maybe it was a response to the Bears running game.
Though he wasn’t particularly accurate, I liked the way that Jay Cutler was trying to be patient and not do too much. Generally speaking, Cutler didn’t force passes on third down but instead settled for something short and the punt when it was called for.
The Bears were really pulling linemen all over the place and trapping defensive linemen in the running game. On one long Bell run, Gabe Carimi pulled from right tackle all the way to the left to spring him.
J’Marcus Webb wasn’t really any more terrible than anyone else on the line.
The Bears were also bringing in extra linemen to block. Real power football.
Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan had a very good game. These guys are pretty good in single coverage. That’s a pretty good couple cornerbacks to build around.
The Rams started bracketing Brandon Marshall in the second half. They really should have done it more in the first half but at least they made the adjustment.
I thought the Bears not as effective with the run in the second half in the face of extra men in the box, either. One wonders if the Rams didn’t adjust to all of the trap blocking they were doing, too.
The Rams game plan seemed to be to run set up by the short pass. The Bears were in standard nickel/4-3. Nothing fancy though, like the Rams, they also did blitz when the situation called for it.
The pass rush was once again pretty good but it generally came in obvious passing situations when they could sell out to the pass rush. It came from a lot of guys. This is crucial to future success.
Danny Amendola wasn’t especially damaging, presumably because D.J. Moore did a good job covering him.
When Sam Bradford gets out of the pocket he’s really pretty fast.
It was another great game for both corner backs.
I spotted the Bears at one point with three down linemen. Interesting twist.
The Rams made some halftime adjustments on offense, too. They came out in no huddle. They were also running more and using it to set up the pass – the opposite of how they started. They were effective with the run until they got two touchdowns down and had to pass.
I didn’t watch him all of the time but I thought maybe Urlacher played better today. I think he’s back in the swing now.
Dick Stockton, John Lynch and sideline reporter Jennifer Hale were all solid if not spectacular. I can’t say there were any earth shattering insights.
Way, way too many penalties on both sides. Especially on the Bears offensive line. Rachal had some false starts. Lance Lewis had one. Webb had a damaging holding penalty that offset a pass interference call on the Rams which could have gotten the Bears a lot of yardage. They were jumpy against the Rams pressure. Mario Haggan had an unnecessary roughness call that kept the drive alive that resulted in the Bears first field goal. The unnecessary roughness call on Julius Peppers also kept a drive going in the second half.
Too, too many drops. Alshon Jeffery and Marshall and Devin Hester were all amongst the major guilty parties. Both Jeffery and Marshall are known for it but that’s not any reason to consider it to be acceptable. The Rams receivers had more than their share of drops as well. Jenkins had a particularly bad drop of an interception.
I have to say that strategy-wise I thought the Rams did a pretty good job this game. Generally speaking I think halftime adjustments are overrated but their theirs on both sides of the ball (above) were pretty effective as far as they went.
Turnovers are never good but I won’t say it was a particularly bad game in that respect except the Bears are never happy when they aren’t getting them. Major Wright’s interception was huge. A wonderful play. I think the Bears are doing a better job of defending that slant after being burned so badly by the Packers with it last year.
Special teams were OK but this whole game was typified by the end of the first half. The Rams were going to punt but the Bears were unprepared. They called time out and that gave the Rams time to reconsider. They put in the kicker and, poof, 3 points.
The Bears players made some plays but I sincerely hope that this is the sloppiest game we see all year. There were times when it seemed like a comedy of errors on both sides, some of them very damaging. You expect that from a talented but young (and bad) team like the Rams. This game was, as far as I could tell, much like their first two in that respect. But the Bears have no excuse. They were constantly putting themselves in ugly situations and when they made good plays, they were often shooting themselves in the foot with mistakes that neutralized them.
The Bears do not have the talent to play football like this. They won’t win many games like this one in the future.
Despite the absence of running back Matt Forte I think you should expect the Bears to get off the bus running this week. The Rams apparently would agree. Jim Thomas at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes linebacker James Laurinaitis:
“‘We have a lot of respect for their ability to run it,’ Laurinaitis said. ‘They’re going to come out running the ball. It’s fun to get back to kind of a normal offense this week. This first week (Detroit) it was a lot of spread-out throwing, and then last week (Washington) a lot of college stuff mixed in.'”
Here’s a surprise from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune :
“Typically, teams that are rooted in the Cover-2 scheme like
the Bears do not invest heavily in cornerbacks, choosing to pour money
into the front seven. But one source said the Bears were involved with Cortland Finnegan until talks went above $9 million per season.”
I’ve claimed for a while that the Bears need corners who can play at least adequate man coverage. Apparently they agree.
“(Bears rookie DE Shea) McClellin is a high-(sic) effort guy. He has short arms and lacks explosiveness. There is a ceiling for guys like that. He is going to be like the kid in Washington last year (Ryan Kerrigan). He’ll start off playing hot, and as the year goes by, he’ll wear down and go quiet. That’s what happened to Kerrigan last year. All of a sudden his body is not fresh and all that hustle does not get as much. (McClellin) does not have enough in his body. Hustle guys wear down.”
“‘We talked about putting players in position to make plays,’ said Tice, the Bears’ first-year offensive coordinator. ‘We’ve got to do a better job of that, and we will. At the same time, it’s very important that you win the individual battles, and we didn’t win enough of those.'”
Translation: “Now that the [feces] has hit the fan, after a summer of talking about how it was all going to be OK because I was going to compensate for it with my scheme, I finally have come to the realization that we actually need talent to work with on the offensive line. My apologies to Mike Martz.”
“Everybody says great things about Mike Tice and his great coaching of the offensive line. Since he was hired three seasons ago our offensive line has been anything but great. It seems to me he’s not all that. What gives? Gary M., North Highlands, Calif.
“Trust me when I tell you Tice is an outstanding offensive line tutor. He gets the best out of his blockers. Sometimes, the best he gets out of them isn’t good enough.”
“The Bears aren’t waiting for the light to come on and stay on with [left tackle J’Marcus] Webb. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice made that clear when he was asked if his confidence in Webb has waned.
“‘We have seven players who suit up every week and those seven players all get reps with the ones,” Tice said. “And we’re going to try to make sure and make the proper decision of the five guys we’re going to put in there who can protect our quarterback and help us run the ball.’
“Translated, newcomer Jonathan Scott has been getting some work at left tackle with the starters. He was signed Sept. 10 and missed nearly all of training camp with the Lions because of a knee injury. It’s not an ideal situation, but when is it on the Bears’ line?”
“Offensive line coach Tim Holt dissected the tape from the meltdown in Green Bay and came to one simple conclusion about why Webb’s play declined from Week 1.
“‘He just has to use his hands better,’ Holt said. ‘He let (Matthews) get into him a little bit. If he gets his hands on people, he wins.'”
I think the problem goes well beyond that by now. Webb knows to use his hands and I’m sure he’s been coached heavily to do so. That fact that he isn’t doing it indicates that the problem is mental. The physical tools are there and he’s intelligent I’m sure. But He obviously doesn’t have the concentration to play consistently against good opponents for a full three hours ball game.
The Bears have to find another answer. It might not be this year but they’re going to have to do it if they want to comete at the top of the NFL. Becasue Webb’s not going to cut it.
“But [Webb’s] presence underlines a major problem for the Bears: When you
struggle with pass protection, it is difficult to rally from a deficit. The Bears
need to score early and often and play from a lead. [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler is too careless with
the ball and the guys in front of him too shaky to pull off many comebacks.
“The Bears under coach Lovie Smith always have been front-runners, often
because they struggled at quarterback. Smith has a 51-10 record when
leading at halftime and a 13-42 mark when trailing. Since gunslinger Cutler’s
arrival they’re 19-4 and 5-18. Sounds like bad news for the Rams.”
“I am wondering if the answer to the Bears offensive line problem is to just ignore max protection and maybe do just the opposite. If they were in a max-attack-type offense I think Cutler would be able to find the open receiver and/or communicate with Brandon Marshall/Earl Bennett for hot reads. It seems too often when they only had two receivers in patterns Cutler was waiting too long for them to get open. Some of Cutler’s best games were when he has had options to throw to, he can slide or even jump up to get the ball out to the open man. What do you think? Grant M.
“I think what you suggest can be a part of the Bears offense, and it has been to a degree. But the Bears would not be able to make a living playing empty backfield with four or five wide receivers running routes. Part of the beauty of the Bears’ personnel and schemes is the offense is somewhat unpredictable. To beat a good defensive coordinator like Dom Capers, you need to be able to do a number of things well, and do them at times when he isn’t expecting you to do them. Playing the type of personnel groups and formations you suggest would make them highly predictable. It also would be a high risk approach. It would probably result in more big plays, but also more interceptions and more sacks.”
Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Timesis saying that the Rams have a “suspect offensive line”. But I watched them last week and they looked OK to me. Admittedly they were at home but still, Soldier Field isn’t like the Super Dome in New Orleans.
Much of this disapproval of Jay Cutler from the media is new. But not from Pompei as he’s been pretty critical from the beginning. He contiunes that here:
“I must be the minority here, but I didn’t mind at all that Jay Cutler bumped J’Marcus Webb on the sidelines. I want my team leader to be fired up and get in guy’s faces. What bothered me about Cutler is how he crumbled after that, throwing up prayers and seemingly not able to adjust to the Packers defense. This seems to be a bigger indictment of lack of leadership, would you agree? Rik, Chicago
“True leadership isn’t about what you say. It’s about what you do. Show me a quarterback who gets the ball in the end zone, overcomes big odds and steps up in the clutch and I’ll show you a leader.”
True enough. But I think if you want to be a really good leader, it goes beyond that. Many people defend Cutler’s actions by saying something to the effect of “Sometimes you have to kick a few butts to get things done.” But is that what the Bears needed as a team at that point?
I would contend that a true team leader would have seen a struggling offense and, instead of yelling “Do better!” would have gotten everyone together, settled them down and guided them by telling them what to do. Instead, Cutler showed his frustration and made things worse. Instead of acting the part of a calming influence, a leader who had things under control and had confidence that the team would come back and do better, Cutler showed his lack of confidence in his teammates and cranked up fears of failure even higher.
Most of the time “leadership” requires the ability to step outside of yourself and give the group what they need to succeed rather than selfishly thinking of your own. Cutler will never be a true leader, no matter how well he performs on the field, because he’ll always lack the ability to do that. He’s far too self-centered.
What is constantly a shock to me no matter how often I see it, is how savagely Cutler is attacked whenever possible, not by fans and media, but by his peers and ex-peers. In his article on how to motivate people and whether being tough is always the way to go about it, I think Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune provides an answer to the question by quoting Bob Sutton, a Stanford University professor and author of “The No (A-word) Rule” and “Good Boss, Bad Boss.”:
“‘If you (act like a jerk) you’ve got to be really competent,’ Sutton said. ‘If you consistently leave people feeling demeaned and de-energized, that’s the point where enemies are lying in wait.'”
Or, as Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribunesuccinctly put it as he compared Cutler to Douglas Neidermeyer in the movie Animal House:
“Neidermeyer’s epilog in the movie was ‘killed by his own troops in Vietnam.'”
“Cutler’s defenders will point out, accurately, that he has not benefited from
system stability, Pro Bowl wide receivers and consistent pass protection —
especially consistent pass protection.
“But he isn’t the only quarterback who needs to spend some time in the
whirlpool on Mondays.
“Since 2009, [Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers has been sacked six times more than Cutler in
regular-season games. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 11 more, and his
rate of one sack per 12.2 dropbacks is higher than Cutler’s rate of 12.4.
“That has not prevented Roethlisberger from making it to a Pro Bowl and a
Super Bowl in that time span.”
Sometimes I think its a shame that even after acquiring Jay Cutler, the Bears’ quarterback situation is still a national joke. But… might as well role with it. From Sports Views:
“The whole idea is to get the defense moving laterally so the offensive linemen can throw cut blocks that drop big defensive linemen on their faces. Think Gilbert Brown in Super Bowl XXXII.”
“‘You have to be smart,’ [defensive line coach Mike] Trgovac said. ‘I faced this scheme several years in a row in Atlanta when I was at Carolina. They just look for that one guy to cut, that one weak link.
“‘That’s what we worked real hard on, make sure everybody stays in their gap. The more you fly off the ball the easier it is for them to cut you.'”
“One front office man said his team is fine with 5-10 corners as long as the player has long arms. Having long arms enable a cornerback to play taller than he is. ‘They can reach for balls downfield, reach for balls coming back and compete better for contested balls,’ [Seahawks general manager John] Schneider said.
“Long arms help a corner in press coverage too. It’s difficult for a short-armed corner to get a good jam and then turn and run because he has to get too close to the receiver.”
I know that Cam Newton is not Jay Cutler. But I think that having a Steve Smith around on the Bears might do him and the team a lot of good. From Joseph Person at the Charlotte Observer.
“That said, Sunday’s biggest headline from Foxboro was the ankle injury to Aaron Hernandez. The third-year tight end is out at least six weeks.”
“Take a look at this statistic from ESPN: “The Patriots used two tight ends on just 20 of 77 offensive plays (Sunday), averaging 3.0 yards per play with two tight ends on the field. The Patriots used two or more tight ends on all 66 plays in Week 1 against the Titans, averaging 5.9 yards per play. Since the start of the 2011 season, the Patriots lead the N.F.L. with 80.1 percent of their offensive plays (926 of 1149) involving at least two tight ends.”
“The Patriots can find a way to win without Hernandez, but it will require rewriting most of their playbook.”
“Kellen Winslow can give the Patriots some of the things Aaron Hernandez gives them, but not all of the things. Front office men who have evaluated Winslow recently say he has lost some speed and can’t get downfield the way he used to, or the way Hernandez can. But Winslow still has the ability to separate in a short area, as Hernandez does. If his knee holds up, Winslow can give Bill Belichick another chess piece.”
“If any OL coach says he needs more contact to coach better, I call b.s. Offensive linemen can go out in shorts. It all starts with mental prep — knowing who to block — and technique and footwork. It’s so funny though — you get three OL coaches and you can hear three different reasons for why their line is struggling, and usually, only one of them is right.”
“Indy’s final drive [last week] provided a perfect snapshot for where their rookie quarterback [Andrew Luck] is.”
“What was most revealing on the drive was when [Adam] Vinatieri trotted on the field. There were still 12 seconds left. And his field-goal attempt was a 53-yarder. If it had been, say, Peyton Manning under center – or any star veteran quarterback – the Colts almost certainly would have ran one, maybe two more plays near the sidelines in hopes of getting Vinatieri a few yards closer. But with no timeouts left, Coach Chuck Pagano decided not to push his Luck. That’s fine, it worked out. But let’s all realize that the Colts seem to believe their young quarterback still has a long way to go.”
“Colts’ ‘Suck For Luck’ Strategy Enters Second Season”
As someone who doesn’t usually get as upset as he used to when the Bears lose, my first thought as I laughed at this video was “Who does this guy think he’s screaming at.” Then I looked at the number of hits and I realized that its about 20,000 people. Someone must like it.
“Stephen A. Smith Thinking Son Is Finally Ready For The Sex Argument”
In light of the Buccaneers decision to maul the Giants as they were trying to run out the clock with a kneel down, The Sports Pickle gives us the NFL’s 25 most unwritten rules. This one was one of my favorites:
“5. Take as much HGH as you possibly can before the NFL starts testing for it.”
I thought this point from the Friday Buzz feature at The National Football Post was interesting:
“If Jon Gruden comes back to the NFL as many suspect, there might not be a long line of established personnel men wanting to work with him. Gruden frustrated people he worked with. He sometimes would set up workouts with players without consulting the front office and operated independently. His negativity also wore on co-workers.”
I always thought Jon Gruden was one of the best head coaches the NFL has seen in recent years. This comment explains a lot about why he’s no longer coaching. One of the worst faults you can have as the leader of a large organization of people is failure to communicate. You leave people in the dark in terms of what’s going on and they resent it. Even when it’s things you don’t think everyone needs to know, leave co-workers in the dark and they begin to wonder what else of a more important nature you didn’t tell them.
Gruden undoubtedly was a control freak who was used to getting his own way as a head coach. He was king of his domain. But when he was put in a situation where input from a large group of front office people was required, he failed to make the proper adjustments. Even for a coach as talented as Gruden, that’s death.