Quick Comments: Late Sunday Afternoon Games

Baltimore – Oakland

  • Oakland surprised me this game by taking Baltimore head on at the line of scrimmage and they competed very well.
  • Quarterback Derek Carr once again had a good game this week (30/46 for 351 yes). Significantly, he got good protection.
  • In contrast, Joe Flacco (32/45, 384 yds) did not have a good game. He saw a lot of pressure and missed a lot of throws he ordinarily makes.

Dallas – Philadelphia

  • The story of this game was how ugly it was for the Eagle offense. Demarco Murray had a terrible game as the Cowboys keyed on him every time he entered the game. The Eagle offensive line was awful, allowing the Cowboys defensive line to penetrate at will. Eventually the Eagles had some success attacking the edges and getting away from the interior defensive penetration.
  • I saw some pretty poor tackling from the Eagles in this game. Tough to stop the run that way.
  • Surprisingly, I also was less than impressed with some of the blocking from the vaunted Cowboys offensive line. The Eagles were getting plenty of penetration against them at times. The Cowboys did better after wearing the Eagles down late in the game, a bi-product of an Eagle offense that gets the defense back on the field quickly when things aren’t clicking.
  • Tony Romo went down hard on a sack and a fumble. Before any report was made you could tell that it had broken collar bone written all over it. Its Brandon Weeden time. For a while.
  • Tweet of the day:

Miami – Jacksonville

  • Jacksonville took advantage of some poor defensive backfield play from Miami. Brice McCain looked particularly bad. This is something that the Dolphins are going to want to take a close look at in the coming week.
  • Blake Bortles’ (18/33 273 yds) accuracy and ball placement leaves a lot to be desired. For a highly touted up and coming quarterback, I was unimpressed this game. Sometimes he flashes some of that potential but its time for him to fish or cut bait this year with some consistency.
  • Right now Ndamukong Suh looks very over paid. He’s not making the plays we saw him make in the NFC North despite often being double teamed.
  • On the other hand, Jacksonville got all kinds of pressure on Ryan Tannehill (30/44 359 yds). This was the first sign of problems for the season on a much – maligned Miami offensive line. Brandon Albert left the game in the first half and ws replaced by Jason Fox, which obviously didn’t help.
  • Olivier Vernon should be ashamed of himself for a late personal foul call that badly damaged Miami’s chances of getting the ball back with time to score.

Game Comments: Cardinals at Bears 9/20/15


  1. The Bears once again, had trouble getting pressure on the quarterback. Palmer took a few hits but generally speaking he looked comfortable in the pocket. This has become a major issue. Palmer was very accurate and looked good.
  2. Other than that, I thought the Bears defensive line held their own at the line of scrimmage today. Rushing yards were hard to come by as Arizona only had 30 at half. They ran the ball better after that with the Bears down by a ton of points. The outside linebackers and defensive ends began having a very hard time setting the edge in the second half.
  3. The Cardinals finally took advantage of Adrian Amos at safety as he struggled in coverage. This is something that many were surprised that the Packers didn’t do last week.
  4. In truth the entire Bears defensive backfield was exposed this game. The Cardinals have a lot of speed at wide receiver and the Bears struggled to keep up. Notably, Kyle Fuller struggled again. This was the major difference in the game.
  5. Boy, Jared Allen looks uncomfortable in coverage. I keep waiting for someone to take advantage of him by sending the running back out into patterns more.
  6. Bryce Callahan, not Terrance Mitchell, replaced Demontre Hurst as the sixth defensive back in the dime package. Mitchell should be a better cover corner in single coverage on the outside and playing the dime corner may not be his strength. Mitchell saw time at corner late in the game as the Bears are apparently searching for answers there.
  7. Brandon Dunn held his own today after being promoted from the practice squad. He wasn’t getting a lot of penetration but he occupied his blockers and wasn’t getting blown off the line of scrimmage.
  8. It was interesting to see Jared Allen getting his hands up for a tip and an interception just before half. You have to wonder if he wasn’t watching the Cardinals do it from the sideline before making the adjustment himself. The Bears got a field goal off of it.
  9. How deos Shea McClellin end up trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald on a Cardinals touchdown early in the third quarter? That may have been a broken coverage on the flea flicker but it was just one example of some of the puzzling coverage mismatches in this game.


  1. Bears came out playing a lot of double tight end, something which made a lot of sense given that injured wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was inactive with an injury. They used both Zack Miller and Martellus Bennett split out wide (along with Matt Forte) instead and did so reasonably effectively.
  2. The Bears did a good job of mixing it up and executing both on the run and the pass this game against a very good Arizona defense.
  3. More than usual, this game was going to be about the line of scrimmage offensively with the Bears trying to run the ball against a tough Arizona defensive front. The Bears held their own but the Cardinals are so fast to the ball that the Bears had a tough time of it. There was too much penetration against the run but Cutler got some nice protection. The protection for Clausen was less impressive as the Cardinals knew that the Bears had to throw from behind. Kyle Long held his own this week but he still gave up a sack in the fourth quarter.
  4. Speaking of the Cardinals being fast to the ball, I was surprised that the Bears didn’t do a better job of taking advantage of their aggression. They were clearly ready to defend the screen pass but some counter runs and reverses might have worked well.
  5. Having said that, the Bears game plan was not without misdirection. Interesting use of the read option by the Bears as Cutler faked the handoff to Jeremy Langford in the first quarter and took the ball himself to the outside for a first down. One of the many very clever and new ways that the Bears took advantage of Cutler’s mobility. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that.
  6. Nice job by Cutler finding Josh Bellamy on the broken coverage for the first Bears touchdown.
  7. Cutler looked much, much better now that the Packers left town. He was much more accurate with some very strong throws. Unfortunately, the interception before half time on a poor throw behind Martellus Bennett marred the effort. Cutler was injured as he landed on his shoulder trying to make the tackle on what turned out to be a pick six. The Bears said that it was a hamstring injury.
  8. The Bears did a good job of giving Langford more carries this game. Not that I like seeing Forte on the sideline but the rest is good for him.
  9. It was interesting to watch the Arizona Cardinals adjust as the game goes on. They were having trouble getting to the quarterback so they simply started counting in their heads and then jumping and putting their hands up to bat passes down. It was very effective.
  10. Jimmy Clausen looked hesitant and had trouble getting rid of the ball. HIs accuracy was poor. The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that the Bears went down by so many points that the whole stadium knew that they had to pass. Clausen looked like a back up who was unprepared after being throw into the game and asked to do his job.


  1. Thom Brennaman was the consumate professional play-by-play man, as usual. I like Charles Davis when he’s doing the draft but I like him a lot less as a color man. He’s not as good as many of the best when it comes to pointing out the technical details of the game to the viewer. I’d call him adequate. Tony Siragusa was practically useless on the sideline.
  2. Things got off to a rough start on special teams once again for the return game as David Johnson returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. There was a horrible line drie kickoff after the Bears first touchdown. Robbie Gould has been struggling with those. Other than that, I’d say it was a nondescript performance.
  3. Both sides once again had too many penalties, especially of the pre-snap kind. Teh Cardinals committed 8 penalties for 58 yards while the Bears committed 14 for 170 which tied a franchise record. The Bears’ numbers were inflated by a couple of very long pass interference penalties as the game was tightly called in the defensive backfield. There was an inexcusable 12 men on the field penalty against the Bears in the second half. Vlad Ducasse was once again a particular problem with a false start and a holding penalty. I feel compelled to remind everyone that there’s a reason why the Bears were so hesitant to move Long to right tackle.
  4. Drops were not a problem on either side.
  5. Turnovers killed both teams today. Jay Cutler threw a pick six right before half Then the Cardinals followed up with a fumble and an interception, each resulting in only 6 Bears points. The Bears had to take better advantage of those opportunities. Jimmy Clausen picked up where Cutler left off, throwing a bad interception to Patrick Peterson, who had Marquess Wilson well covered.
  6. I’d like to thank Bruce Arians for using all of those timeouts before half to save time for a final drive, only to fumble the punt and give the Bears a field goal. I admire aggressiveness but your team better be of the type to take advantage of it or it can kill you.
  7. Once again, the Bears settled far too often for field goals in this game. They aren’t going to be able to continue to do that, especially with their defense being as bad as it is.
  8. How bad have things gotten when you find yourself desperately rooting for your team to keep the points given up under 50? And consider it to be a minor victory when they don’t.
  9. I can’t emphasize enough how bad the Bears defensive backfield is right now. The lack of pressure on the quarterback is exacerbating the problem. These sorts of games where the Bears give up huge numbers of points are going to be fairly common unless something is done. In the mean time, the team has to play nearly perfect football in every other way to make up for it. That means particularly that they can’t afford the turnovers or the penalties that we saw in this game.


Jury Still Out on Bears Cornerbacks

Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com answers your questions:

“From @chaparral276: Any changes coming in the Bears’ secondary?

“It’s hard to imagine Terrance Mitchell not getting a start at cornerback or at least as the nickel before too long.”

“[T]here is no point in going too far with Alan Ball, as the Bears should know in his eighth season exactly what they’ve got and Sunday vs. the Pack it wasn’t nearly enough.

Sherrick McManis also struggled vs. the Packers as the nickel after a great preseason so he had best turn it around soon.

“I’m guessing the Bears are hoping to look at Ball and McManis at least until they can get Tracy Porter’s hamstring healed and then he’ll get a good look, too, but again, after seven seasons I’m not sure how long that will take.

“I’m guessing Mitchell gets a start in one of those three cornerback spots by Week Five or Six.”

There’s a part of me that things that Hub’s bing a bit tough here. And there’s a part of me that doesn’t.

Terrance Mitchell Chicago (Daily Herald)
Terrance Mitchell Chicago (Daily Herald)


Hub sometimes becomes biased when it comes certain players and it causes him to see what he wants to see rather than what is. For instance, he saw a very good performance from quarterback Jay Cutler last week while many of the rest of us in Chicago saw an inaccurate mediocrity that had a passer rating less than 30.

I think something similar might be going on with Ball. He actually had good coverage the majority of the time last week. It’s just that Aaron Rogers was putting the ball in perfect spots. It was impossible to defend. I won’t defend McManis quite so strongly but he was up against Randal Cobb, after all. That’s not an excuse. Its just a fact.

On the other hand, there were no interceptions last week. That can’t continue. And there’s no getting around the fact that Bears lack speed in the defensive backfield.

And, finally, Mitchell is a young player that we’d all like to get a look at and see develop. Mitchell played in all four preseason games and flashed potential with nine tackles, an assist and two interceptions.  He was active against Green Bay but didn’t have a stat line.  He’s reasonably good sizes at 5’11” and 190 lb in the mold that this coaching staff likes.  And I’m reasonably sure the coaching staff would like to continue to get a better look at him, too.  Head coach John Fox had some nice things to say about Mitchell  after his Colts interception:

“That was a big-time play.  That’s a good catch whether you’re playing wideout or DB. But it was a very similar route to what we had earlier in the game. And he squeezed it pretty good and went up and made a great catch.”

Mitchell plays better when there isn’t a lot of traffic and communicating that needs to happen and it’s been speculated that he could be at his best on an island covering a receiver.  Those communications issues may need a little time to resolve themselves so week five or six might not be a bad estimate in that he may be deemed ready by then.

Bottom line, I’m not quite ready to toss away the Bears cornerbacks just, yet. Talk to me after the game today where the Bears play a team that, though still decidedly more talented than they are, isn’t quarterbacked by Rogers. If they look as below average as the Packers made them look, I might be more inclined to be more critical.