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Game Comments: Bears at Lions 11/27/14
The Bears started well with plenty of penetration into the backfield and good pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Will Sutton looked good in particular.
Matthew Stafford looked very uncomfortable in the pocket when ever the Bears managed to get a crowd around him. He eventually got over it but it wasn’t a good look. The occasional blitz from the Bears helped get pressure on Stafford quite a bit. Eventually they adjusted and Stafford had more time.
The Lions adjusted by getting the ball out quickly and they never looked back. It was pitch and catch from the second quarter on.
The Bears started in a zone defense, mostly cover two, and they stayed with that most of the game. you knew when you saw them in it that it might be a long game. They’re miserable playing zone and have been since the pre-season. Color man Phil Simms attributed much of the problem to the fact that the Bears were giving the receivers a free release off of the line of scrimmage. I don’t think they’re fast enough nor do they react quickly enough in it. Whatever it is they’re really bad at it.
The Bears linebackers once again had their problems in coverage. Lions tight end Eric Ebron gave them a hard time.
Calvin Johnson has been struggling on a bad ankle since September. All he needed was the Bears to get healthy.
The Bears came out with a game plan that very evidently did not include running the ball under any circumstances. They threw screens which substituted for run plays as they tried to attack the edges of the Lions defense. They didn’t run the ball until the 9th play of the game.
Since the Bears didn’t bother to run the Lions defensive linemen considered it to be open season on Jay Cutler and sold out to the pass rush. Cutler was under siege most of the game, specially when he didn’t get the ball out quickly enough (which was frequently).
That game plan required execution with minimal mistakes. That was the case for the first couple possessions. Then the old Bears offense showed up and it was a comedy of penalties and dropped passes that killed drive after drive.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were excellent this game. Simms was right on spot with commentary, especially regarding the deficiencies in the Bears defense. The half time show was comical. “James Brown: So now that we’ve talked about the Bears what about the Lions?” Panel: “The Lions are OK but lets get back to the fact that the Bears suck.”
Special teams were actually pretty good on both sides today. The Lions opened the game by pulling a DeCamillis and running the ball out of the end zone to the fifteen. Must be a disease. Pat O’Donnell had a good punt in the first quarter that landed inside the 10.
The Bears dropped passes all over the field. Brandon Marshall had at least two and Martellus Bennett dropped one that stopped a critical drive in the third quarter.
Way too many penalties, too, especially on offense. A second quarter holding call on Roberto Garza killed a drive. A holding call on the Lions took a touchdown off of the board but they scored anyway.
Once again, turnovers played a role in the game. Jared Allen caused and recovered what was a big fumble at the time in the first quarter. It set up the kind of short field that keeps the offense from looking as totally helpless as they actually are statistically. The Jay Cutler interception midway through the fourth quarter led to a field goal that put the game away for the Lions.
Watching game on Thanksgiving was an exercise in frustration at the Shannon homestead in Missouri where I’m from. I’m pretty much left alone most of the time but the minute I sit down to watch the Bears all hell breaks loose. Suddenly I have to look here or there, everyone wants my opinion on something and jobs that could have been done at any time over the last two days need to be done right now with the Bears in red zone. There has to be a bar open somewhere in this god-forsaken state on Thanksgiving and by heaven, next time I’m going to find it.
Well, I figured the Bears were out of the playoff chase anyway but this pretty much puts the final nail in the coffin. Not that they deserve to be there anyway. At some point I’d like to see the Bears get to where they can play a zone defense. I don’t know if that requires a new coordinator or new players or (my suspicion) both. I can only repeat that the defense, especially the linebackers, is too slow. The special teams were better but, once again, it took very little to stop the Bears on offense – mostly things the did themselves. I don’t think they’re going anywhere with Cutler at quarterback anyway but they could win at least some of these games with a little more discipline. But the head coach isn’t a disciplinarian and the Bears evidently don’t have the kind of players that can impose it upon themselves – if such a group of players exists anywhere.