- The Bears came out running no huddle. The Colts came out playing 6 in the box and daring the Bears to run, something which they generally struggled to do, especially in the first half.
- The problem is that the Bears simply could not win the line of scrimmage for a lot of this game. The Colts dominated it in the first half and therefore were able to stop the run. The Bears had 7.8 yards per carry at that point but take away the Jordan Howard 58 yard run and it was less than 3. They finished with 6.6 ypc, again that’s 3.5 without the big run.
- Cameron Meredith (9 catches for 130 yards) really emerged this game. He’s a big guy who was very capable of taking advantage of some terrible coverage that wasn’t by Vontae Davis. He might be a target that will help a great deal in making up for the loss of Kevin White long-term.
- Alshon Jeffery (5 catches for 77 yards) wasn’t much of a factor but the minute they got a matchup with Patrick Robinson instead of Davis, they went right to him for good yardage late in the third quarter.
- What was really surprising about this game is that I’m convinced that the Colts defense got worn down in the fourth quarter. That’s quite a change for a team who is usually watching its own defense get worn to a nub. It was very interesting because the difference in time of possession really wasn’t that great. It was 28:20 – 24:36 Bears at the time of their go ahead touchdown with 7:00 left in the game. I don’t know what that says about the Colt defense but it’s not good.
- Also not good if you are a Colts fan is the number of missed tackles all over the field this game. They’ll be wanting to clean that up. Along with a lot of their things. Lots of things contributed as the Bears had over 500 yards of offense on the day.
- The Bears failure in the red zone despite all of that yardage was another deciding factor in this game. They need to get better there.
- Brian Hoyer was not sacked. Many are noting the improvement in the protection that Hoyer is getting over Jay Cutler. The improvement was notable against the Cowboys in Week 3 and was very evident last week against the Lions. However, its worth noting that Brian Hoyer also deserves a great deal of credit for this. He gets the ball out fast, throwing with anticipation to receivers, making it very hard for pass rushers to get to him. So credit the change in quarterback for this as well.
- Hoyer (33 of 43 for 397 yards) didn’t have a bad day but there were times when I thought his accuracy wasn’t there. Receivers like Eddie Royal were going to the ground to get balls when they really shouldn’t have had to.
- Zack Miller (7 catches for 73 yards) has come alive with Hoyer’s ability to spread the ball around the field to different receivers. Cutler seemed to have a hard time finding Miller when he was playing the first two games, targeting him just 7 times. Hoyer targeted Miller 11 times in his first two games. Miller had another good game today.
- I really thought Jordan Howard (16 carries, 118 yards) also had a good game as he made the most out of his runs as far as I could tell. He continues to show what he can do to give Bears fans some hope for the future. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune a good note about Howard in his comments after the Lions game last week. Rookie running backs, who are neither used to the NFL grind nor the frequency of the games, have a habit of wearing down after they take a pounding over a few games. So far so good for Howard.
- Indianapolis also came out running no huddle. The Bears were also daring the Colts to run, often staying light in the box and dropping 7 or 8 into coverage. The Colts ran the ball with great success in the first half, averaging 7 yards per carry. The Bears did a better job in the second half as that average dropped to 4.7.
- The reason was that the Bears were getting dominated at the line of scrimmage. Not only were the Colts running all over the Bears but Andrew Luck, who had been under siege the first quarter of the season, was getting plenty of time in the first half. In fairness, the Bears defense again did better getting pressure on him in the second half in part because they started rushing more than four on occasion. Willie Young in particular was pretty effective again with three sacks.
- Luck is unbelievable. Some of the throws that he makes are amazingly accurate.
- Allowing Luck to have forever to throw exposed the Bears secondary which was getting beat all over the field. I understand that T.Y. Hilton is good. But knowing that, how can you let him get that open, even in what was mostly zone coverage? It was very frustrating to watch him make catch after catch.
- Also frustrating was watching Luck extend plays time after time. He’s very mobile inside and outside the picket and that, combined with his size makes him very tough to bring down.
- One thing the Bears did do a good job of was keeping the Colts out of the end zone. They managed to force Adam Vinetieri to kick field goals for most of the afternoon and that’s really what kept the Bears in the game.
- Jerrell Freeman had a reasonably good game with 7 tackles (5 solo) which has to be nice for him.
How important was this game to the former Colt? Well, according to him, no hard feelings for allowing the Bears to outbid them in free agency.
“It’s a business; can’t take things personally”
Of course, then this feature came out on Freeman in the Chicago Tribune on Saturday where he said this:
“Every team I play, it’s ‘You could have had me.’ There are a lot of things I think of right before the game when I turn into something else that people don’t see.”
So, yeah, I think it was important to him.
- I was shocked when Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews drew this game. As bad as the Bears have been, to see them draw one of the best announcing teams in the NFL is an insult to the league and its fans. All did an excellent job as usual.
- Special teams weren’t good. Punt and kick coverage was particularly patchy. The Bears allowed a good 35 yard return in the second quarter and allowed another 20 yard punt return early in the second half as well. Connor Barth missed another field goal but appeared to luck out as T.J. Green stupidly ran into him. Then he missed it again. Compare to Adam Vinatieri, who is amazing, it wasn’t a good look. Again.
- Drops weren’t a huge part of this game for the Bears but the Colts had a few big ones as usual.
- Penalties, on the other hand, were a huge factor. Drive after Bear drive was killed by penalties as they committed 6 for 55 yards in the first half alone and finished with 10 for 80 yards. Jordan Howard had a very damaging facemask penalty on the Bears first drive that probably cost them 4 points as they settled for a field goal rather than scoring a touchdown. A holding penalty on Long killed a first down early in the second quarter. The Bears settled for a field goal. Logan Paulsen also got caught holding and that killed a Bears touchdown. An illegal contact penalty gave the Colts a first down early in the second half.
- Turnovers weren’t a big factor until the end of the game as both teams did a reasonable job of protecting the football. This was bad news for the Bears, who are under-manned and who I think are always going to need some help from the other side in winning a game. Instead, Meredith fumbled the ball deep in Bears territory and helped the Colts to carry away a victory.
- The Colts’ season reached a crisis point last Sunday in London with a loss to the Jaguars that dropped them to 1-3. Afterward, players spoke openly about a need for greater professionalism and the Colts then cut Sio Moore and Antonio Cromartie. Colts are a desperate team. Did they play like it? Well, kind of. There wasn’t a great deal of intensity and they still aren’t very talented but they did a very good job of limiting the mistakes that they made against the Jaguars last week. They also protected Luck much, much better in the first half with some help by the Bears who rushed four for most of time.
- You understand that the Bears are a young team and that they will take time to develop. Mistakes due to misplays we all can certainly understand. But this game was different in that the Bears not only lost the turnover battle but, even worse, continually shot themselves in the foot over and over again with penalties. That I don’t think fans should accept. I expect to see better next week.