Quick Game Comments: Jaguars at Bears 10/16/16

Offense

  1. The offensive line once again did a good job protecting Brian Hoyer.  Even when the Jaguars brought the blitz on occasion they did a nice job of picking it up.
  2. Unfortunately once again I can’t say the same for the run blocking.  Except for one big run last week against the Colts, I thought the Bears struggled.  They did again today in the first half at 2.4 yards per carry.    They did however, begin to run the ball considerably better late in the third quarter and the final stat was 3.4.
  3. Once again, I thought Jordan Howard (15 carries for 34 yards) ran well today given the blocking and once again, I thought he did the best he could with the hand he was dealt.  He was joined by Ka’Deem Carey (9 carries for 50 yards) who made the most of his opportunities as well.
  4. The Bears once again struggled in the red zone this game as they were 1 of 4.  That kept the Jaguars in the game and ultimately allowed them to win it in the fourth quarter.
  5. The Bears went into this game knowing that they had to work on their run-pass balance.  The firing of former Bears head coach and now former Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman graphically demonstrates why.  As he did with the Bears, Trestman frequently abandoned the run with the Ravens, sometimes even when it was working and this has generally been accepted as the major reason for his demise.So how have the Bears been doing?  Despite the fact that the Bears often have not been trailing by much for long periods late in the games they’ve played going into the Jaguars game, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and the offense for the year are running the football just 33.6 percent of its plays. For perspective: That falls below some of the lows in recent Bears history including the 33.7% mark that former offensive coordinator Mike Martz hit through his first six games in 2010 before head coach Lovie Smith ordered more running.Today the Bears did better, running the ball 27 times and passing 30, perhaps indicating that they are on the way back from the brink.
  6. It was generally accepted going into this game that the Bears needed to get Alshon Jeffery more involved in the passing game like he was in the late third quarter and on against the Colts (save for the final play).  Nevertheless, Loggains defended the decisions that Brian Hoyer is making to distribute the ball.”When it’s one-on-one, the ball’s going to [Jeffery]. When they double team him, the ball’s going to go somewhere else.”Loggains is right.  If you do enough damage with the other receivers, as the Bears did today in the first half, the defense will have to come off of Jeffery at least occasionally to sneak over and cover the other receivers.  This is exactly what happened on the final play against the Colts.  Hoyer simply missed it and the Bears played.  But if he hits that pass, it’s a different game.  And that pass is what they’re playing for.

    The first pass of the game was to Jeffery on a short pass to him with off coverage.  It was a sign of things to come.  Jeffery had a very good first half (6 catches for 90 yards) as the Jaguars often left him in loose single coverage rather than double teaming him every play.  He cut loose on a double move late in the first quarter that should have been a touchdown but the throw was too long.Its unfortunate that the Jaguars shut Jeffery down in the second half as he finished with just one more catch for three yards.  But Hoyer did a good job of distributing the ball again today and I’d say it still it paid off.

  7. That having been said, it must be acknowledged that Hoyer didn’t have a particularly good game.  There were a few big passes that weren’t nearly accurate enough that hurt the Bears.  Those can’t happen.

Defense

  1. The Bears, like the Jaguars, appeared to come out determined to stop the run, which they did do successfully  allowing only 2.7 yards per carry and 54 yards rushing.  Unfortunately this loosened up the play action pass and the Jaguars took advantage.
  2. In the passing game it appeared to me like once again the Bears were trying to prevent the deep throw while allowing the Jaguars to try to work their way down the field in the hopes that they’d eventually shoot themselves in the foot – which they frequently did.  There was some bad football out there today.
  3. Eventually the Jaguars found a way to get Allen Hurns open.  He was lining up in the slot late in the third quarter and consistently popping open with shallow play action routes over the middle for big chunks of yardage.
  4. The Bears knew going into this game that Allen Robinson was going to be the guy they had to stop today.  They seemed to recognize that as they put Tracy Porter on him, sometimes with loose safety help.  It didn’t work very well as Robinson beat them in the first half with three catches but for 49 yards and though they stopped him in the second half, Bortles spread the ball around to his other receivers as they did so and he did a great deal of damage with them.  Robinson also dropped a touchdown that Porter eventually intercepted or it would have been worse.
  5. I won’t say the pass rush was all that great but Willie Young once again did get a sack going one-on-one with a tight end late in the second quarter.  That’s the kind of matchup that you have to take advantage of and he did.  Young also caused a Blake Bortles fumble early in the fourth quarter.
  6. As far as the run defense goes, I thought the linebacker play was particularly stout today.  Danny Trevathon, Sam Acho, Christian Jones and Jerrell Freeman all had reasonably good games and didn’t do too badly in coverage to my eye.  (But see the comment about Allen Hurns poping open in the third quarter above.)
  7. The lack of a pass rush exposed the Bears defensive backs and most of the problems in the passing game came at their expense.  Eventually once again they had to resort to occasional blitzes in the second half – and that as much as anything is what cost them the Jaguars go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter as Tracy Porter slipped while covering Arrelious Benn on just such a blitz and there was no one behind him. This will continue until the Bears find a way to get more pressure.
  8. Blake Bortles is frustrating to watch.  Sometimes he’ll make a great throw and he seems to be particularly effective when he’s on the move.  But he also isn’t consistent enough and he makes some very puzzling, inaccurate throws.  The loose fumble in the fourth quarter was also a baffling and very damaging mistake.There’s a lot of potential but in his third year in the league he’s not there yet.

Miscellaneous

  1. Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein were your announcers.  You could tell these were guys that were used to doing AFC games because they clearly didn’t like much of what the Bears were doing.  The broadcast as far from completely bereft of positive Bears comments but most calls were assumed to be on the Bears.  For example, “That hit on Hurns was helmet to helmet!  In today’s NFL that’s gong to be called most of the time.  Trevathon will be fined.”  and “Only Sam Acho thinks he wasn’t offside on that play.” and the classic “The Bears appeared to do that to themselves” on a late Kelvin Beachum shove.    Most 50:50 plays were in the Jaguars favor until proven otherwise.Much more importantly, the quality of the broadcast was poor and all of the analysts were frequently washed out in the sound from the crowd and I really didn’t  think anyone provided much insight and I didn’t learn much from them.
  2. I thought the special teams were pretty good on both sides today.Pat O’Donnell had a pretty good game.  He started the game with a nice punt, trapping the Jaguars inside their own 10 yard line.  He did it again just before half time and pinned them inside the 15 yard line midway through the third quarter.  Connor Barth made a 36 yard field goal early in the second quarter (Alleluia!).  He also put through an important 32 yarder midway through the fourth quarter which made it a two score game.  On the other side, Brad Nortman pinned the Bears inside the 15 yard line with a nice punt in the second quarter.  As happened last week, Eddie Royal decided not to catch a punt which rolled 22 yards.  That has to stop.  Jason Myers also was content to kick the ball to the left through the endzone which is one good way to stop the return game.
  3. As noted last week, in the first half alone at Indianapolis, the Bears committed five penalties. For this reason, touchdown situations were turned into field goals.  This is how you gain over 500 yards of offense and score only 23 points.Overall, the Bears had been penalized 35 times for 270 yards this season — 31 times for 240 yards in the last four games. They had 16 pre-snap penalties.  Things didn’t get better today and they committed 10 sometimes critical penalties for 87 yards.Jerrell Freeman had a pass interference in the first quarter deep in Bears territory.  Jacoby Glenn got called for the same thing giving them first and goal.  There was a comical moment late in the first quarter when there were literally three flags on the field and it appeared to be littered in them.  A false start penalty on Cameron Meredith pushed the Bears into a third and 17 deep in Jaguars territory.  They settled for a field goal.  A holding penalty on Cody Whitehair pushed the Bears into a first and twenty late in the third quarter.  In fairness, Hoyer held the ball way too long on the play.

    A roughing the quarterback call on Willie Young  let the Jaguars off the hook and gave them a first down.  A defensive holding penalty later in the drive on the Glenn moved the Jaguars to first and goal from the two yard line.  They scored a touchdown on the next play.  A facemask penalty on Danny Trevathon also let the Jaguars off the hook again late in the fourth quarter to keep a drive alive.  It resulted in a field goal.

    Finally, a critical holding penalty on Howard pushed the Bears back to 3rd and 17 with 1:19 left in the game, pushing them a much longer way from field goal range.

    This can’t go on.

  4. I won’t say that drops had no effect on the game but they hurt the Jaguars more than the Bears.Jordan Howard dropped a pass deep in Jaguar territory in the second quarter.  For once it didn’t hurt the Bears too badly as they got the first down and then the touchdown  anyway.  KaDeem Carey dropped a first down early in the third quarter that could have gone a long way.On the other side, T.J. Yeldon dropped a first down late in the second quarter.  They eventually converted it anyway.  Allen Hurns dropped a first down early  in the third quarter as the Jaguars once again shot themselves in the foot.  They were being shut out at that point.
  5. Porter had a huge interception in the endzone in the first quarter that prevented at least three points if not a touchdown had Robinson caught it (which he should have).  Blake Bortles got loose with the football and Willie Young knocked it loose.  The Bears were clean once again and that kept them in the game for longer that perhaps it should have.
  6. <sarcasm>Hey, CBS, show us some more of that imaginative programing by pushing more cop shows, please!</sarcasm>
  7. I’m frantically trying to take notes on this game while monitoring @BradBiggs on Twitter and suddenly my phone starts going crazy with notifications from the family Slack group.  My sister was trying to get help with my nephew’s homework on a Sunday afternoon during football season.  These people have no respect.
  8. What did this game come down to?  Going into this game the Bears’ offense ranked eighth in yards (372 per game), but 30th in points (15.6).  The Jaguars’ defense ranked seventh in yards (304 allowed per game), but 30th in points (27.4) and, like the Bears have been extremely penalty prone.This game was going to come down to who managed to do better overcoming these deficiencies.  Today it was the Jaguars, as they committed half as many penalties and did a pretty good job of keeping the Bears out of the endzone.
  9. You just knew as the Bears kicked field goal after field goal in this game that they would find a way to lose it.  The frustrating thing about this season is it that it is tough to see how they’re any better than last season. That’s tough on a fan base that only has hope for the future to keep them going.  They’ll be looking for this team to get decidedly better as the weeks roll on.  It didn’t happen this week.

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