Quick Game Comments: Lions at Bears 11/19/17

Offense

  1. The Lions came out stacking the line of scrimmage just like everyone else. The Bears responded by throwing the ball more, apparently deciding that they could actually beat the Lions defensive backs. They also threw some Mitchell Trubisky runs in. All of this combined to loosen the defense up and the Bear sustained a drive down to the 5 yard line before settling for a field goal.
  2. It didn’t help the Lions that they struggled to get a pass rush on Trubisky early.
  3. I thought it was interesting that the Bears chose to pass on that first possession in the red zone. I noticed the first thing they did when they got down there again was run Jordan Howard before throwing for the touchdown to Adam Shaheen.
  4. Shaheen had a breakout game as Trubisky hit him on some pin point passes in tight coverage.
  5. Shaheen had such a good game in part because the Bears apparently decided to target the tight ends this game. He and Brown certainly started hot with 3 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
  6. It looked like the Bears made a concerted effort to get Tarik Cohen on the field more this game after taking heavy criticism in the media last week for not playing him more.
  7. Second week in a row that we’ve seen the Bears run a good screen play. That’s encouraging.
  8. Kudos to the Bears offensive line as they dominated the line of scrimmage early in this game. Trubisky showed what he could do when he gets protection. Unfortunately things weren’t so rosy in the second and third quarters.
  9. Jordan Howard had a pretty good game as he went over 100 yards. The Bears seemed to find the running game a bit in the fourth quarter after stalling for most of two quarters before that.

Defense

  1. Not a fast start for the Lions as they just didn’t execute well early on. Stafford was a little inconsistent and fumbled the ball away on their first possession. You have to wonder if they didn’t take the Bears a little lightly. They got their feet under them in the second quarter.
  2. The Bears did a reasonable job of getting pressure on Stafford as that Lions offensive line initially didn’t look a lot better than it did last year to my eye. Like everything about the offense, they did a better job starting late in the first half.
  3. The Bears mixed coverages quite a bit and they weren’t always in that cover two that they like so much. The Lions did a pretty good job of finding holes in the coverage for big gains when they finally started moving the ball. Looks like the Lions definitely know how to beat zone defenses. It served them well today.
  4. Marcus Cooper didn’t do his chances of continuing to play a lot of good when he let Marvin Jones run around him like he was an orange traffic cone on the Lions second touchdown late in the first half.

Miscellaneous

  1. Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman were your announcers. Spielman threw in some good points this week after a down performance last week.For example, he had an interesting tidbit about Trubisky calling out the blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage on a successful run that I thought was pretty good. Later he caught Stafford yelling “opposite” as he told the offense which direction to run the ball. Spielman also made a good point when he showed that the Bears were double teaming Theo Riddick. It’s rare to double a running back out of the backfield.
  2. Both special teams until played well, I thought, until Connor Barth missed a game tying field goal by a mile.
  3. Kyle Log got an unnecessary roughness on a rather stupid late hit. Prince Amukamara had a bad pass interference [penalty that cost the Bears about 30 yards. Both teams had damaging penalties.
  4. Drops weren’t excessive but Kenny Galloway had a huge one with less than 2 minutes left tin the game that took 10 valuable yards away from the Lions as they were trying to get within easy field goal range. It also stopped the clock. It essentially force a 52 yard attempt by Matt Prater to win the game.
  5. Akiem Hicks recovered a Stafford fumble on the Lions first possession. Nick Kwiatkoski knocked it loose. The Bears converted it into a touchdown. D.J. Hayden picked up a bad snap for the Lions and scored a touchdown as the Bears gave the points from the Kwiatkoski recovery right back [eye roll].
  6. The Bears lost Leonard Floyd to injury and almost lost Kyle Fuller but neither would have been bigger than the loss of Eddie Goldman. The Bears weren’t the same last year after Goldman went down. I was glad to see him go back in.
  7. Tweet of the day:

    @BradBiggs: Since #Bears went ahead 17-7, they have run 13 offensive plays.

     

    That was near the end of the third quarter.

    The Bears went dead in this game in the middle and couldn’t sustain what they started. They found their legs again for a bit in the fourth quarter and Trubisky made it a game as he led the bears down field to try for a game winning field goal.  But it was too little too late after the defense gave up a very long, time consuming drive that ended in a Lions field goal.

    The Bears showed some potential this game as they opened up the offense. They might have beaten a team like the Lions on an off day. But the Lions were the better team and generally played like it.

    Bears fans will just have to be patient.

Quick Game Comments: Packers at Bears 11/12/17

Offense

  1. The Packers did the smart thing and stacked the line of scrimmage as everyone has before them. The Bears tried to loosen up the Packers by passing a bit more on first and second downs, something new for them, rather than just running into the teeth of the defense every time. They had limited success but I think this is what they have to eventually do if they want to be consistently successful.
  2. One thing became evident early. Either offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains or, more likely, Mitch Trubisky likes passing over the middle. That might be just where Trubisky is seeing the receivers the best. I think the Packers figured that out and concentrated on taking it away as the game progressed.
  3. Adam Shaheen came alive and had some nice catches.
  4. Trubisky is still struggling with his accuracy. Easy passes are being overthrown. This has been far and away the most disappointing part of his game.
  5. Nice to see the screen play make a successful appearance for the Bears in the second quarter on a long run by Benny Cunningham. They need to do more of that. Of course, some success in other areas of the passing game would help with that.
  6. Dontrelle Inman brought a little life today. He’s not a great receiver but he’s as good as anyone the Bears have.

Defense

  1. The Packers didn’t do anything special here. It was mostly dink and dunk down the field all day. The Bears were just a step slow all over the field.
  2. There were a lot of missed tackles out there today in a sloppy game.
  3. I think the Packers went at Kyle Fuller so often because he takes so many chances recently. He goes for the big play but its risky. If he misses there is often an awful lot of green behind him.
  4. The Packers went with a hard count on 4th and 1 from their own 29 at the end of the first quarter and no one in the stadium, fell for it. Hundley wasted a time out on the play to prevent delay of game. That was a poor decision.
  5. The Bears had a lot of success blitzing Hundley, particularly where he was responsible for recognizing it himself and adjusting. It’s quite evident that although its hs third year in the NFL, he’s basically a rookie. He made some poor decisions.

Miscellaneous

  1. Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman were your announcers and man, Spielman did not impress me. He added very little to the broadcast and sometimes seemed to reverse his opinions mid-explanation.  Brennaman is usually solid but there were situations where he seemed a bit lost as well.  Not a great day for the announcers, either.
  2. Both teams had a lot of success kicking field goals on a rainy day.  Of course, Mason Crosby missed a big one on a bad snap/hold at the end of the 4th quarter.
  3. Cody Whitehair had a holding penalty on the Bears first set of downs. There were two false starts in a row on the second set of downs. The Bears had four penalties before Green Bay had their first one. The Bears took an offside at the end of the first half that moved them back a crucial 5 yards as they tried to play for a field goal.It was typical of the day. Time after time the Bears shot themselves in the foot with penalties all day in a sloppy effort. It didn’t help that the game was poorly officiated.
  4. Tarik Cohen showed some shaky hands early juggling the first pass to him and flat out dropped a perfect ball on the second. Josh Bellamy had a bad drop near the end of the third quarter.  Inman dropped a huge ball on the last drive of the game.  These blown opportunities can’t continue.
  5. It’s a shame that Cunningham’s nice run on the screen play near the end of the first half was called a touchback upon review due to one of the worst rules the NFL has.
  6. This was a miserable game for most of the afternoon. Neither team really played well and the Bears in particular were flat and sloppy coming off of the break. Too many penalties and they lost the turnover battle, albeit on a crummy NFL rule.With Brett Hundley at quarterback, the Bears blew an opportunity here. They were just a step slow all day and they aren’t good enough to beat anyone unless they’re on top of their game.

Was Releasing Gould a Mistake? Depends on Your Point of View.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers more of your questions:

I was baffled when the Bears cut Robbie Gould and felt it would come to haunt them. Now it seems obvious it was a mistake. Your thoughts? — @stewart_errol

Gould has been excellent for the 49ers this season making 17 of his 19 field-goal attempts. Gould missed two extra points in the preseason finale of 2016 for the Bears, one of which was blocked, and you should recall there were some key late-season misses for him in 2015. Connor Barth hasn’t been as good as the Bears would like and we’ll have to see if he can straighten things out in the second half of the season. I’d imagine it’s more or less a week-to-week proposition for him at this point. I’d also say that the Bears have made bigger personnel mistakes than at kicker. They’ve got bigger need-to-fix projects right now than kicker and it’s not like there are necessarily great options on the street. As I pointed out in 10 Thoughts following the Saints game, the kicker to keep an eye on right now is Cairo Santos. Unfortunately, he’s not healthy as he recovers from a groin injury that led the Chiefs to release him.

I’m sure a lot of fans still have this question. From what we could see, Gould was an excellent kicker and no one could possibly look at the situation and say the Bears did the right thing.

But here’s the deal. Fans don’t see everything. In particular, they don’t see what goes on in the locker room. And that might have had a lot to do with Gould not being in Chicago.

Gould was the Bears longest tenured player which probably made him set in his ways, as people who are in the same job for a long period of time are apt to be. To add to that, Gould was definitely opinionated and was not shy about sharing it.

The guess here – and it pure speculation – is that Gould had an attitude and one that special teams coordinator Jeff Rogers didn’t particularly like. The Bears had (and have) a young team and they undoubtedly wanted their players exposed to the right influences.

It’s possible that, for whatever reason, they didn’t deem Gould to be the right guy to have around. In any case fans, who are on the outside looking in, are unlikely to ever find out exactly what that reason was.

The Bears and Drops. The Ultimate Circular Argument.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

I’ve expected more out of the short screen game to get Tarik Cohen in space. Seems every other team runs it more effectively. Is that true? — @fols54 from Twitter

That’s a keen observation on your part. I don’t know if I would say every team has a better screen game than the Bears, but it is fair to say the screen game has considerable room for improvement. In my estimation, it’s not a play Mitch Trubisky has executed really well to this point. Keep in mind it takes time to develop the feel, touch and most importantly the timing to be really good in the screen game. There are a lot of moving parts there with the linemen attempting to deke the defensive linemen and then getting out in space to clear a path. Cohen, obviously, has the skills to be really good in this area, but keep in mind opponents are being very careful with how they defend him. Jordan Howard continues to struggle catching the ball and really that has been a team-wide issue. The Bears have dropped 8.9 percent of catchable passes, the second-worst rate in the NFL behind only the 49ers (9.2 percent), according to STATS. Hopefully the Bears can iron out some of the timing issues with the screen game in the two months ahead.

I actually have a couple points to make about this answer.

Cohen could be very good in the screen game but we’ve seen the league rapidly adjust to him and I think there’s some reason to doubt his long-term viability in the league. Cohen practically made a living in cut back lanes in his runs but once defenses understood what he was doing, they started quickly taking those cuts away. The result hasn’t been good.

The Bears desperation to find a receiver has led them to split Cohen out and he’s done a decent job. But he’s awfully small and Trubisky has been struggling a bit with his accuracy. That’s not a good combination.

How Cohen adjusts to the defenses is going to be one of the more interesting stories in the second half of the season.

Here’s hoping executing in the screen game is part of the answer for Cohen. If there’s one lesson that I learned watching the Saints, it’s how important that can be to an offense. The Saints played off of their success in the screen game about as well as anyone I’ve ever seen and the Bears could use it just as effectively if they get their act together on it.

The second point has to do with the drops. I was surprised by this statistic but I shouldn’t have been.

I’ve noted a number of times during my quick game comments that drops haven’t been a big factor in the games. However, as Biggs statistic emphasizes, this is because they’ve thrown so few passes.  As a percentage of what they’ve thrown, they’ve been pretty bad.

The passing game is a lot like the running game in that it goes better when you build momentum. Pass catchers that never see passes all game have a bad habit of dropping the ones that come to them simply because it’s such a long time since they’ve seen one.

This argument is admittedly somewhat circular. You don’t throw because you don’t have success doing it. You don’t have success doing it because you don’t throw.

I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that the Bears need to break out of this. Teams have zero respect for their receivers, sometimes crashing 9 men into the line of scrimmage.

They aren’t going to compete with many good teams without a passing game.