Game Comments: Buffalo at Chicago 9/7/14
- The Bills came out running which is the natural thing to do when facing what was one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. They didn’t hide it with some straight out power run formations and the Bears were looking for it. And they stopped it. The Bills started going to play action after that, of course, and that’s when the fun started. That was pretty much the plan all day. Whenever the Bills felt like they needed to gather it back together they started running and went to the pass off of that. It kept the Bears linebackers off balance all day as they struggled with reading the plays.
- Even though the Bills weren’t getting too far running the ball it did slow the Bears pass rush and they weren’t getting to Emanuel enough. For long parts of the game there was no pass rush on E.J. Emanuel at all and it was killing the Bears defense. The Bears tried some line stunts but they didn’t help too much. That has to get better.
- This game reminded me a little bit of the Seattle preseason game in that there were massive amounts of space in the defensive backfield for receivers to run into. The Bills did a good job of taking advantage of it.
- Jared Allen failed to contain on the outside on the Bills first touchdown. He seems to have a bad habit of that.
- Ryan Mundy had a rough game. It seemed sometimes like every time the Bills made a play he was somewhere in the area.
- It was interesting to watch Lamarr Houston today. He’s a quiet guy in the media but he’s bundle of emotion and energy on the field. It’s not what I expected.
- In general the Bears secondary did a good job of tackling today. Good to see.
- The first drive was beautiful. For some reason the Bills put Leodis McKelvin one-on-one with Alshon Jeffery in press coverage. If there was supposed to be any help, it never got there and Jay Cutler made a beautiful pass. A Bills linebacker slipped and Martellus Bennett got wide open going into the end zone. I’m not too sure he was going to be able to cover him anyway.
- The Bills went to a weird 2 man line formation early on. Cutler audibled to a run that didn’t go anywhere. It was an interesting wrinkle.
- The Bills were having a tough time getting pressure early and began to blitz in the second quarter. It was moderately effective and I thought the Bears needed to do a better job of taking advantage of it.
- Contrary to worries before the contest, the running game was reasonably effective. It was the passing game that was occasionally out of sync resulting in one notable interception by Corey Graham in particular.
- Matt Forte really is the most underrated football player in the league. He does it all and he does it really well.
- There’s a noticeable difference in Cutler compared to previous years. You read about it in the papers but its different seeing him out there audibling and placing players around him. He’s gone from being an arm to being a functioning brain on the field.
- Cutler still has a bad habit of throwing off of that back foot. It makes his throws noticeably weaker and less accurate.
- Nice, heads up catch by Josh Morgan in the third quarter off of a Brandon Marshall deflection. It was (yet another) miscommunication, though, as both receivers probably weren’t supposed to be in the same area. Having said that, I like where the Bears are with the third wide receiver. Between Morgan and Santonio Holmes I think there’s a fair chance that they’ll get more out of the position than last year. But they’re going to need Alshon Jeffery.
- The Bears continued a wonderful streak of drawing the best announcing teams in football. FOX sent Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa and I thought they did their usual nice job of complimenting the action.
- Special teams didn’t hurt the Bears too badly today. Jeremy Cain was fine at long snapper. Senorise Perry made kind of a dumb decision and brought the ball out of the end zone on a kickoff to be stopped at the 12 yard line but I didn’t see much that resulted in any damage after that. Of course, nothing much good came out of them either. But nothing bad is an improvement.
- The Bears penalties weren’t exactly out of hand but they were irritating. An interference call by Matthew Mulligan eliminates a nice Bennett gain. The Bills had a number of more costly penalties, some of which were legitimate.
- A few too many drops for the Bears today. Not anything too egregious but a lot of balls off of the tips of fingers that arguably should have been caught. There were a few that Cutler could have maybe made more catchable. I’ll say that needs to get better.
- Neither the Bears nor the Bills are teams that can afford to turn the ball over. Brandon Marshall’s fumble in the 2nd quarter was a killer. Former Bear Corey Graham’s interception in the second quarter on a Cutler miscommunication with Martellus Bennett also hurt badly. Chris Conte’s interception turned the game and helped the Bears get back in it. It was a huge play. As was Cutler’s killer interception as he tried to make a play in the fourth quarter.
- I talked earlier about how the Bears offense was going to need to show that they could overcome adversity. Two injured offensive linemen could be just the start. They’d better pray that Alshon Jeffery’s injury isn’t serious.
- Both of these teams didn’t really play all that well. The Bears let the Bills out in front with two turnovers and the Bills let the Bears right back in it with one of theirs. Overall the Bears had more talent but executed poorly with little things here and there and everywhere stopping them all over the field. If it wasn’t a turnover, it was a penalty and if it wasn’t a penalty it was a dropped ball or a player out of position. It seemed like it was never the same thing twice but they all added up to a big problem. It could be just first game sloppiness but Bears fans have seen teams stop themselves like this all year too often in the past to be completely relaxed. These boys have a tough schedule up front and if they don’t pull it together quick, they’ll be out of the playoff race in the blink of an eye.