Quick Comments: Panthers at Bears 10/22/17

Defense

  1. The Bears started this game stacking the run on first down but
    eventually the Panther’s started spreading them out, then attacking
    them up the middle. Presumably they were going after Christian Jones.
    To a certain extent, it worked.
  2. Other than that, I thought the Bears did a good job of stopping the
    run generally.
  3. Kyle Fuller had another excellent game. Eventually the Panthers
    started going to the other side at Prince Amukamara with a bit more
    success. They also attacked Bryce Callahan over the middle with some
    success.
  4. They’d have had more success but Cam Newton wasn’t having one of
    his better days. He wasn’t very accurate and that certainly helped the
    Bears cause.
  5. Kudos to the Bears front seven as they got sack after sack on Newton.
    Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd and Danny Trevathan all had sacks. That
    certainly helped as well. They took advantage of some bad Carolina
    blocking through the first quarter and a half. It got a little better after
    that to my eye.
  6. Trevathan really showed up again and had a very good game. He was
    particularly effective on the blitz.
  7. The Bears defense looked tired at the end of the first half. It was their
    own fault. Carolina dominated the time of possession (22:21 Vs 7:39)
    largely because the Bears kept scoring on defense.
  8. Floyd had a good game getting pressure but I got a little tired of
    watching him take an inside path to the quarterback, thus letting
    Newton extend plays outside the pocket.

Offense

  1. The Bears didn’t get the ball on offense until 7:46 was left in the first
    quarter because the defense was coring and giving the ball back to the
    Panthers.
  2. The Panthers stacked the line of scrimmage when they saw triple tight
    end but mostly they played light in the box. you’d think the Pittsburgh
    tape would have told them not to do that but… whatever.
  3. The Bears are so bad at wide receiver that they basically made Tarik
    Cohen into one today. Whenever he and Jordan Howard were on the
    field at the same time, the Panthers were smart enough to treat him
    like one as well and put the nickel defense on the field. Cohen still had
    a huge 70 yard reception setting up a field goal.
  4. Mitch Trubisky is still holding the ball too long. He had a sack at the
    end of the first quarter that put them back to the limit of Connor
    Barth field goal range at the 34 yard line. Barth missed it. He can’t
    take a sack there.
  5. Not a great day for Trubisky today. He was under pressure on third
    and long with a blitz coming where he really needed to get rid of the
    ball. He looks like he just doesn’t know where to go with the ball, yet.
  6. I like the way that the Bears will occasionally go into the hurry up to
    prevent Carolina from substituting. It works.
  7. Cody Whitehair is really having problems this year. In addition to the
    bad snaps before this game, he’s been getting pushed around quite a
    bit more than you’d like up front.
  8. Did OK but they allowed too much penetration in some important
    spots today.

Miscellaneous

  1. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts were fine.  Can say that I learned a lot but we’ve certainly had worse.
  2. Connor Barth had a 42 yard field goal blocked. It looked like it came
    out low.
  3. The Bears did a reasonable job limiting penalties until, of course
    the offense had to actually come through and try to help put the game
    away. Then it was a flag fest.
  4. Cohen had a drop in the first quarter..
  5. Eddie Jackson had a banner day in the run over department scoringon a long fumble recovery and then on a pick six, both over 70 yards.
    Credit Amukamara on the assist on the lick six as he tipped the ball into
    the air with some good coverage. Trevathan had a huge interception
    midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears once again did a good
    job here and it was key to keeping them in the game.
  6. This was a terrible offensive game for the Bears today. They ran just
    37 offensive plays and converted exactly two third downs. They had
    the ball six times in the second half and all but the last one were three
    and outs. They held the ball for only 21:25 and hung the defense out
    to dry, leaving them on the field for 38:35 to wear down to a nub. This
    just has to get better.

    On the bright side the defense played great today and really carried
    the day. They not only accounted for stopping the Panthers but they
    did almost all of the scoring, as well. Those guys were heroes today.

    If you want the bottom line, its in the usual stats. The Bears won the
    turnover battle (2-0), They had few penalties (only 2 until late in the fourth quarter) and they didn’t drop the ball much if for no other reason than there were so few passes. The Bears don’t have a big margin for error but they played reasonably well on a day that Cam Newton really didn’t. That was enough.

 

Quick Comments: Bears at Ravens 10/14/17

Defense

  1. The Bears played a light box against the run. Presumably that’s
    because the Ravens had lost both their starting guards (Alex Lewis and
    perennial Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda) to season-ending injuries and
    center Ryan Jensen is in his first year as a full-time starter.
  2. Having said that, the Ravens had some success running up the middle
    against the Bears. Middle linebacker is still a weakness with
    Christian Jones starting for the injured Jerrell Freeman.
  3. In addition, the Ravens were able to take advantage of Danny Trevanthan’s aggressiveness. Trevanthan otherwise had a great game, though.
  4. I loved the aggressiveness that the defensive backs played with this game. The Ravens evidently thought they had a mismatch with Kyle Fuller because they tried to pick on him but he generally did a good job in coverage. Fuller, Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos all played fast and hit hard.
  5. Kudos to Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense for handling the Bears blitz so well. They picked it up well, Flacco stayed calm and dealt the ball effectively.

Offense

  1. The Ravens did what you’d expect and crashed the line of scrimmage and challenged the Bears to throw the ball. As in all of the previous games it generally worked. The Ravens have a good, tough secondary and the Bears passing game with no wide receivers is limited.
  2. Like the Vikings before them, the Ravens did a good job of eliminating cut back lanes for Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen and the outside zone runs weren’t working well. Terrell Suggs ate Dion Simms alive on the outside.
  3. However, the Bears did have success running up the middle. There are probably two reasons for that. Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams is still out and he’s their best run defender. On the other side, the Bears interior line of Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long are healthy and they were doing a good job of blowing Ravens off of the line of scrimmage.
  4. I thought Howard could have been more patient on some of those runs in the first half. It looked to me like he came out after half and did better in that area.
  5. The Ravens obviously wanted to show Mitch Trubisky a lot of different
    looks and the Bears did a good job of limiting that by going to the hurry up in any obvious passing situation, mainly third and long.
  6. The Bears really need to open up the deep passing game and, at least for now, Trubisky is showing some limitations in that area. He had some opportunities to complete some long passes and some of them were way off today. We heard that he was throwing a good deep ball all through camp. I haven’t seen it yet.
  7. Trubisky did do a good job of taking care of the ball, though. He
    apparently got the message that the one cardinal sin he could
    commit at this point is giving the ball away. Yes, he did have a
    critical fumble and he’s going to have to eventually do a better
    jhob of picking up blitzes and he’s going to have to develop a
    better feel in the pocket. But more importantly, Trubisky threw
    the ball away a lot to live to fight another day rather than
    forcing it. When you’ve got a good defense, that’s what you have
    to do.
  8. Someone has to do something about Whitehair’s bad snaps. This is ridiculous.
  9. Is there anything Tarik Cohen can’t do? 25 yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller. You can’t win consistently with gadget plays, though. Eventually these guys have to execute. But, hey, it worked.

Miscellaneous

  1. Sam Rosen and Ronde Barber did this game and I think Barber really had a good day. He wasn’t always on point but he made a lot more sharp comments than duds and was pretty much on top of the action all game.
  2. Bears special teams allowed a boneheaded touchdown when everyone stopped but the runner, Bobby Rainey, who was tripped up by his own man and wasn’t down. They then allowed the game tying touchdown with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Pat O’Donnell shanked a unt in over time. Needless to say they’ve had better days.
  3. The Bears had no notable drops. The Ravens had only one or two.
  4. The Bears reportedly stressed the fact that they had to cut down penalties if they were going to win and they did with only 4 penalties for 34 yards in regulation. Unfortunately they were still at critical times but they did still cut them down.
  5. Trevathan recovered a fumble in the second quarter with the Ravens driving. Unfortunately the Bears failed to take advantage as they followed it with a three and out. Bryce Callahan had an athletic interception in the second quarter after a crushing hit to Breshad Perriman by Eddie Jackson. The Bears took advantage of that ohne and followed it with that Cohen touchdown pass. On the Bears side Tarik Cohen had a critical fumble in Bears territory near the end of the third quarter with the Bears up by only a touchdown after that idiotic kickoff return for a touchdown. The Ravens eventually kicked a field goal to cut into the lead. That was followed by a back breaking Trubisky fumble on a delayed blitz but Lardarius Webb, also in Bears territory. That one was floowed by a pick six by Adrian Amos.
  6. The Bears did a pretty good job of cleaning up a lot of things today. There were no notable dropped balls, they had on;y two penalties and, probably most important, they won the turnover battle. Indeed, no game that I remember so drastically showed how important it is to do the last. The Bears fortunes literally varied as the ball got passed back and forth and while you’d like to see the offense clean up their requisite two turnovers (fumbles by Trubisky and Cohen), the defense carried the day with not only good, fast, aggressive play but by getting three turnovers, themselves. I and many others with me have said it time after time. The defense has to get turnovers if the team wants to win consistently.

And yet they still tried so hard to find ways to lose this game. While cutting the penalties down they committed them at critical times late in the game and then again in over time. Special teams were a disaster and it cost them dearly at the end. As Barber said near the end of the game, this is what 1-4 (now 2-4) teams look like.

Kudos to the Bears for winning it in the end. But, man… give us a break, will you?

 

Quick Comments:  Steelers at Bears 2017-09-24

Defense

  1. The Bears did a good job against the Steelers run and did a reasonable job of containing Le’Veon Bell.  The Steelers did better running the ball in the second half.
  2. As expected, the Steelers attacked the Bears corners deep  on the outside.  The Bears tried to stay in a 2 deep zone but Pittsburgh receivers were constantly gone at them when in man coverage.   They seemed to be particularly attacking Marcus Cooper.  Fortunately the coverage was generally better than last week.
  3. The zone defense was generally effective today.  The Steelers weren’t executing all that well and you have to do that if you are going to dink and dunk down the field.
  4. John Time saw some playing time and made some plays.
  5. I thought Ben Roethlisberger struggled with his accuracy a bit more than usual this game.  He did a great job extending plays, though, and completed a number of passes that you couldn’t imagine, say, Mike Glennon making.
  6. Generally speaking the Bears needed to get more pressure on Roethlisberger.  It wasn’t awful and in fairness, Roethlisberger was often getting the ball out quick as they tried to pick apart the Bears zone with short passing.  But they generally just weren’t getting  to him quickly enough.
  7. Kudos to Pernell McPhee with a huge sac in the fourth quarter with the Steelers driving.
  8. As I watched the Bears defense today I really wish they had more team speed.   It just seemed like the Steelers were getting too many yards after the catch before Bears defenders could get to them.  The good news is that the tackling was generally good, something that’s essential if you are going to play that way.

Offense

  1. Somewhat to my surprise, the Steelers decided to play double tight end offensive sets with seven in the box.  There’s really nothing to fear from the Bears passing game and there’s no reason not to bring down an eighth guy.  Eventually they started crashing the line of scrimmage in the second half.
  2. Bears responded by running the ball.  They scored after the Steelers muffed punt in the first quarterly running the ball six times straight with no passes.  They had some success with misdirection.
  3. Whenever the Bears did try to pass it was generally a disaster.  Glennon was in constant trouble in apparently in large part because no one was open.  They did score an wide open Adam Shaheen touchdown on a nice play action pass.
  4. Jordan Howard ran very well, today.  He may have been a bit upset at his lack of production in the first two games.  He ran extremely hard and demonstrated some of that vision he had last year.
  5. Howard and Tarik Cohen make quite a one-two punch in the backfield with their different running styles.  Both did a nice job of cutting back today, though I think the Steelers did a better job of stopping that in the second half.
  6. The Bears seem to be having a hard time just snapping the ball this year.  Hronis Grasu had a low snap on a critical third down in the first quarter.  Whitehair had a bad snap in the fourth quarter.
  7. I thought it was interesting that the Bears started Grasu at center with Cody Whitehair at guard instead of Tom Compton at guard.  The Bears brought in Bradley Sowell at guard rather than bringing in Compton.  Compton had a bad game last week.
  8. Anybody seen Dion Sims?
  9. Steelers did not do a particularly good job of tacking as both Cohen and Howard made a lot of important yardage after contact.  I think the Bears wore them down by the time over time hit.

Miscellaneous

  1. Greg Gumbel was OK but Trent Green was a disappointment.  He didn’t add much to the broadcast.
  2. Bears kicker Connor Barth is doing a better job of kicking off.  He’s getting the ball into the end zone a lot since the Bears brought in competition for him in training camp. He missed a 47 yard field goal, though.  On the Steelers side, a muffed punt in the first quarter led to a Bears touchdown.  Marcus Cooper pulled a boneheaded play by slowing down short of the goal line and allowing the Steelers to knock the ball out from behind on a blocked field goal.  After much tumult, the Bears got a field goal instead of the touchdown Cooper should have scored.
  3. The Bears struggles covering the Steelers wide receivers caused a number of penalties.  Kyle Fuller had a pass interference in the first quarter and Bryce Callahan had an illegal contact.  Marcus Cooper had a very damaging holding call midway through the third quarter.  That gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs form the 3 yard line.  They scored a touchdown.  Charles Leno had a really bad false start on first and goal from the one at the end of the half.  That resulted in a field goal instead of a touchdown.  Roy Robertson-Harris had a crushing holding call, taking a good Tarik Cohen return back nearly 40 yards.  The Steelers had their share of penalties as well.  They had an illegal shift and a roughing the passer in the first quarter.   There were a variety of little pre-snap penalties on both sides throughout the game, especially the Bears.  All and all it was pretty sloppy.
  4. This was a disastrous game for Marcus Wheaton as he dropped at least 3 passes.  Zack Miller had a drop.  This is becoming an epidemic.  Generally speaking, tough to win football games this way.
  5. For the Steelers, Eli Rogers muffed a punt which was recovered by Sherrick McManis.  That led to a Bears touchdown.  Roethlisberger fumbled the ball after holding the ball too long an a Bears blitz.  That led to a Bears missed field goal but it may have cost the Steelers 3 points.  On the other side, Jordan Howard lost a fumble that eventually turned into a Steeler touchdown.  Glennon three a back breaking interception to J.J. Wilcox in the fourth quarter deep in Bears territory.    That led to a game tying field goal.
  6. The Bears tried so hard to lose this game.  They had a better team come into town and try everything they could to hand the game to them, especially early, with multiple turnovers and mistakes.  The ball bounced their way all game.  And yet they failed so often to take advantage.  Penalties, their own turnovers, poor offensive and in some cases special teams play in the clutch.  Once the Steelers adjusted at half time by crashing more men to the line of scrimmage to stop the run, points were tough to come by.  Chicago wide receivers:  1 pass caught for 9 yards (Deonte Thompson).

    Yet they still managed to pull it out with good defensive play despite repeated mistakes by the other units.  Kudos to the Bears for the win and for running the ball effectively in over time.  But, really should this have even been close?

It’s About the Turnovers. And Other Points of View.

  • Perhaps the best feature that Mike Glennon demonstrates and has demonstrated throughout his career is that be protects the football. That perhaps, was the biggest reason why his game on Sunday was so disappointing.

    Glennon could be ineffective in a lot of ways but two picks, one a pick six, and a fumble aren’t going to cut it on a team run by a defensive coach like John Fox. That’s why Jay Cutler isn’t here any more. It will be why Glennon loses his job sooner than expected no matter how many excuse you make for him and no matter much pressure he faces from a defensive front seven like Tampa Bay’s.

    It doesn’t matter if the Bears resort to recruiting high school players for their offensive line or to play wide receiver. Glennon can’t have many more games like this with Mitch Trubisky waiting in the wings.

  • There are a lot of reasons not to start Trubisky over Glennon right now. Probably the biggest is that Glennon is already playing in an offense with one arm tied behind its back with no wide receivers to speak of. Dooming Trubisky to trying to learn to play quarterback in this environment seems less than ideal.

    Having said that, there is one good reason to consider starting Trubisky. All training camp we heard that the major difference between Trubisky and Glennon was that the deep ball was part of the offense when Trubisky was on the field.

    It’s possible that Trubisky could get more out of these miserable receivers in that area. I’m not saying it would happen – there’s only so much you can do with the talent you are given – but its possible.

    In any case I wouldn’t look for the Bears to start Trubisky before Week 5. After having a good game against Atlanta, Glennon will get at least another game. After that, its Thursday Night football against the Packers on a short week and it’s doubtful that the Bears would start Trubisky under those conditions.

    I’d look for Monday Night football on October 9 as the earliest date we’d see him.

  • One thing that should be legitimately questioned after the Bears loss Sunday is the disappearance of the tight ends from the offense. Dion Simms got one target and it was intercepted. On a team with no depth at wide receiver, that’s something that seems to have “failure” written all over it.
  • Brad Biggs 10 Thoughts column on Monday afternoon is almost always the best thing I read all week. This week I will mildly disagree with one point:

    I thought the defense, by and large, was OK. They didn’t give up the big play. It’s not like the Bucs ran all over them on the ground. They did face some tough spots with short fields. Another thing the Bears did was allowed long drives. Tampa had drives of 13, nine, eight, 11 and 16 plays. Good defenses find a way to get off the field.

    The defense didn’t play badly. But it most certainly was not OK.

    Those long drives were a result fo the Tampa Bay offense picking apart a Bears zone defense, one that they were forced to play because defensive coordinator Vic Fangio doesn’t trust his corner backs to cover one-on-one.

    When they did cover one-on-one, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston’s eyes lit up as he threw deep to wide open receivers who were on out matched cover men. Had Winston not consistently over thrown those receivers, the Bucs may have put up a fifty burger, something that may well happen with Aaron Rogers on the agenda in two weeks if something doesn’t change soon.

Game Comments: Bears at Buccaneers 9/17/17

Defense

  1. The Bucs were spreading the Bears out and attacking the middle of the field, especially the linebackers, in coverage in the passing game.
  2. They spent a lot of time picking apart the Bears zone coverage and moved the ball well. Whenever the Bears dared to put a corner into single coverage, the Bucs attacked the Bears corners. This was an excellent game plan by the Buccaneers in taking advantage of the weak Bears defensive backfield.
  3. The good news is that, like last week, the Bears did a good job of stopping the run again despite being in a lot of zone coverage.
  4. The first drive was stopped on a bad 3rd and 13 pass that looked like a TB miscommunication. This made me wonder if the Bucs were going to suffer from some first game-type problems that the Bears would avoid. Unfortunately we had no opportunity to find out as the game got out of hand early.
  5. Surprisingly, the Bears were occasionally putting an eighth guy into the box to stop the run and dared the Bucs to pass. It seemed they were often right and the Bucs often ran into the teeth of it. I wonder if there was a tell that the Bears picked up on film.
  6. Jameis Winston struggled with the deep ball, today, over throwing several oen receivers.

Offense

  1. The Bears started the game with two runningbacks, 2 tight ends and a full back. Ran the ball for a loss of two. Not a good start.
  2. Bears were once again using the runningbacks as receivers. No surprise with little depth at wide receiver on the team.
  3. The Bears were using play action more than they did the first game. That’s something they need to do as the running game is all they have to threaten with right now.
  4. No surprise, the Bears threw lots of little short routes over the middle. The Buccaneers began sitting on the short routes as you might expect. they crowded the line of scrmmage and dared the Bears to throw deep which, of course, they are incapable of doing. Game over even without the turnovers.
  5. Not a great game for many members of the offensvie line. For instance, there was a total miss by Charles Leno on Levante David early in the game on a run that lost yardage. Leno looked practically helpless on the play. Bobby Massie didn’t have a great game.
  6. I wouldn’t lay this loss entirely at Mike Glennon’s feet but he certainly didn’t help. He wasn’t very accurate at times and it led to at least one interception that was entirely on him. Some might say that he was under pressure and the line didn’t have a great game. But truth be told the offensive line wasn’t that bad in protection for most of the game, especially considering that both Josh Sitton and Tom Compton went down to injury. Glennon really has no excuses.

Miscellaneous

  1. This kind of blow out is a tough game to do as an announcer. Dick Stockton and Mark Schlereth weren’t awful.
  2. I wouldn’t say that the special teams were really awful this game on either side. Once again, Bears kicker Connor Barth got a kickoff into the endzone for a touchback.
  3. Jordan Howard had another drop in the second quarter as did Josh Bellamy, Tanner Gentry and Kendall Wright (twice) in the fourth. Awful.
  4. An unbelievable number of defensive holding calls hurt the Bears continually. For instance, a holding on Danny Trevathan extended the ver first Tampa drive. The drive ended in a field goal. Another one extended a second quarter touch down drive by the Bucs giving the a fresh set of downs at the one yard line.The Bears ended the game with 8 penalties for 59 yards.
  5. Leonard Floyd picked up a Pernell McPhee strip fumble in the third quarter. Of course, it was way too little way too late.The Glennon interception in the first quarter was thrown behind the receiver. Fortunately the defense hold the Bucs on their own side of the 50 and forced a punt. Unfortunately Tarik Cohen stupidly tried to pick up the ball inside the 15 yard line and turned it right back over. Touch down.Mike Glennon fumbled a ball on a blitz up the middle right into the hands of Lavonte David.Robert McClain intercepted Glennon late in the second quarter for a pick six.Tough to win that way.
  6. Probably a lot of people will argue that Mike Evans was out of bounds on the Tampa touch down in the first quarter. It was close but I think right foot way down when he caught the ball and that the referees probably got it right.
  7. Just a quick reminder from twitter in the first half to those who will spend this week calling for Mitch Trubisky:


Amen. I wouldn’t want to doom anyone to being the quarterback of this team right now. And I really wonder how much anyone could learn under these circumstances.

8.  This was one of the toughest game I can remember having to watch. My only comfort is that it wasn’t the Packers. Yet.I can go on and on about penalties, turnovers and the fact that the Bears are going to have a very hard time competing with no wide receivers and no cornerbacks. But let’s just bottom line this.This miserable franchise is a national laughing stock. Again.

Bears Fans, Media and Team Get Another Dose of Reality But Simply Can’t Accept It

The first thing that I heard after the Bears loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday was the thing I expected. That was because, if nothing else, it was the same thing I heard last year and the year before that.

“We could have won if not for two dropped passes,” one fan said. “We didn’t have Kyle Long.”

One media member said, “Had Bears right tackle Bobby Massie held his block against Falcons defensive end Brooks Reed instead of weakly opening the turnstile, perhaps quarterback Mike Glennon would have found a mismatch in man coverage to complete the game-winning pass.”

And, of course, Bears head coach John Fox got into the act. “I think right now we’re a pretty good football team.”

[eye roll]

Let’s be honest, here. What we heard Sunday, what we’ve heard for a long time, the “What if…’s” and the “If only…’s”, can be characterized as one thing: the mating call of the loser.

These are the words that every losing organization says to itself. But they don’t change the fact. You lost.

The truth is that there isn’t that much difference in talent, top to bottom, in the NFL between teams. Yes, the Bears have a miserable wide receiver corp, the worst in the NFL – before injuries to Cam Meredith and Kevin White. But they also have budding star running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. Yes, they have a below average defensive backfield. But the front seven is pretty good and showed that yesterday.

No, though the Falcons were the more complete team, that wasn’t the difference yesterday. The difference was in the little things that went wrong at key moments during the game – little things that always bite bad teams.

You think the Bears are a “pretty good football team”? Good football teams don’t allow 88 yard touchdowns to mediocre tight ends like Austin Hooper.

After taking a day to digest that play, it seems evident now that the team completely blew the coverage. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman played zone when everyone else matched up. Danny Trevathan was spying quarterback Matt Ryan. Freeman didn’t carry Hooper up the seam. Free safety Quintin Demps, left the middle of the field to double Julio Jones. Hooper was left completely uncovered.

You think that the Bears win “if only Massie had held his block” on the last play? What about the two dropped touchdown passes, one by Jordan Howard and the other by Josh Bellamy, just two plays before? If it looked familiar, its because the Bears managed to drop passes in close home losses to the Titans and Packers last year. “If only” Bellamy had caught one of those, Matt Barkley would be a local hero.

Believe me, if it hadn’t been dropped passes and critical missed blocks, it would have been something else. That’s because these are plays that bad teams don’t make. They are plays that the Bears haven’t made for some years now. And that’s the difference between a “pretty good football team” and what they really are. A team that flat out doesn’t come through when it counts, that let’s injuries affect their play, that always makes just enough mistakes to lose.

“If only” the Bears could win the close ones “If only” had that little something, that intangible winning combination that allows them to do what it takes and make plays when the game is on the line. But they don’t. And people are going to have to be realistic and face that as we enter what could be another long year.

Quick Game Comments: Falcons at Bears 9/10/17

Defense

  1. Atlanta came out executing well. They spread the ball out, balanced the run and the pass. They looked sharp.
  2. The Bears played a lot of zone defense hoping to get pressure on Ryan with the front seven. I think we’ll see a lot of this during the year, given the state of the defensive backfield (i.e. not good). I’d say it was occasionally successful but inconsistent depending upon how successful the pass rush was. Atlanta spent a good part of the second quarter picking that zone apart with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Truthfully the Bears defensive backs were out classed.
  3. The Bears did a reasonable job of stopping the run and did a pretty good job at the line of scrimmage. But Atlanta is pretty good with the play action pass and they occasionally got burned with it.
  4. Akiem Hicks was the best Bears defensive player on the field. Great game both rushing the passer and penetrating against the run.
  5. Was Pernell McPhee on the field at all?
  6. I know Leonard Floyd was out there most of the time but… let’s just say you wouldn’t know it from the stat sheet. They need more from him.
  7. Hard to figure out what happened on the 88 yard Austin Hooper touchdown in the fourth quarter but it looked like Quintin Demps blew the deep coverage.
  8. I didn’t think this was Matt Ryan’s best game. He wasn’t real accurate.
  9. There was some awful tackling out there.

Offense

  1. Not surprising to anyone who watched the preseason, the Bears came out in a lot of double tight end. Also not surprising, the Falcons responded by stacking the line of scrimmage with a lot of guys in the box. They were keying on the running backs.
  2. The Bears played for the first quarter and a half taking what the defense gave them – i.e. the pass. Just one problem. They have the worst wide receiver group in the league. And that was before losing Cam Meredith. The Bears really struggled with short passes that went nowhere.
  3. Those passes went nowhere because of the speed on the Atlanta defense. No sooner did a receiver get the ball then he would get hammered. Yards after the catch were at a premium. they got decent pressure on Mike Glennon.
  4. The Bears tried to counter the Atlanta speed and aggressiveness with some misdirection plays. I’d say that they had limited success.
  5. Here’s the good news. Late in the second quarter the Bears threw up their hands and said, “The hell with this.” They just ran despite the defense. and it worked to give them a touchdown late in the half.
  6. Tarik Cohen tore it up with some spectacular runs. Not only is he athletic with excellent vision, he’s short, tough to get a hold of and tough to find behind the line of scrimmage. He and Jordan Howard are a potent one-two punch in the backfield.
  7. Give the Bears offensive line some love for some good blocking up front and everyone else, including those miserable wide receivers, credit for doing a good job of contributing as well.
  8. Glennon didn’t look good out there but I really can’t fault him. He had some “where was that going?” passes but he’s surrounded by nothing to pass to, was under a fair bit of pressure much of the time and was playing a very good defense.
  9. I guess you can’t run the ball on every down but I really thought that they should have done it more, in the second half. I literally cringed in the second half every time I saw a shot gun formation because I knew it was a disaster waiting to happen. I can’t remember ever seeing a team That was less of a threat to throw a ball more than 8 yards. The Falcons just sat o the short routes and caused havoc. It would help if they put Glennon under center more so they could play off of their success running the ball and run a realistic play action pass.
  10. Brook Reed had a great game attacking the line of scrimmage for the Falcons.
  11. As bad as the receivers are I do wonder if the Bears shouldn’t be getting more out of Kendall Wright. Tight end Dion Sims occasionally looked good, too.

Miscellaneous

  1. This was originally the announcing team that was supposed to include Jay Cutler. Without him, there wasn’t much special to pay attention to.Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver were professional and Davis, in particular, did a reasonable job of hitting all of the important points as far as I was concerned. In fact, for what its worth, he literally said a lot of things as I was thinking them.We certainly could have done worse.
  2. The game started with a short kick to the 10 almost put the Bears in the hole right away. A penalty brought the 60 yard return back. Connor Barth kind of redeemed himself a bit later with 54 yd field goal followed be a kick off into the end zone for a touchback.
  3. I’d say penalties weren’t outrageously bad on the part of either team. Hicks had a bad roughing the passer penalty in the third quarter. That extended a long drive that ended in a field goal.Not a great game for Cody Whitehair. He had a hands to the face penalty and a holding penalty. He also had a low shotgun snap.
  4. There weren’t many drops until the last Bears drive. Kevin White had one on the first play of second half. But the ones that really hurt were the two by Josh Bellamy and Jordan Howard in the waning seconds of the game. Both may have been game winning touchdowns.
  5. The Bears didn’t turn the ball over. Perhaps more telling, they didn’t get any, either.
  6. It won’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet as being as bad as it was but the Falcons had some really long drives that tired the Bears defense out in the second half.
  7. I think the best team won this game. I give the Bears credit for hanging in there with inferior personnel but in the end I think the cream rose to the top.

McPhee Weight Loss Has Less to Do with Being in Shape Than With Reducing Stress on HIs Knees. And Other Points of View.

  • With the promotion of quarterback Mitch Trubisky to the back up role, a legitimate question arises – why keep quarterback Mark Sanchez if all he’s going to be in a third stringer?

    There are a couple answers to this. First, the third quarterback on the roster is usually your developmental quarterback. The Bears have one of those – he the second stringer. So you don’t need another one in that spot.

    Second, Sanchez can still play a role as a mentor to both Trubisky and Mike Glennon.

    “This has all been well thought out. We were honest and up front with Mark about the reasons we value him. It starts with he’s a good player,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “But it also goes into all the intangibles he brings, what he brings to our locker room and the quarterback room. Mike can lean on his experience, and Mitch can lean on that too. He’s valuable for us. He’s the kind of guy that just exudes positive energy wherever he is, and he has seen a lot in his career.”

    But perhaps more to the point, Sanchez is a good insurance policy. There’s no guarantee that Trubisky is going to be ready to step in and replace  Glennon should that be necessary. He still lacks experience.

    Trubisky will now get the first shot should it come to that. But with a poor wide receiver group and an offensive line that is already showing cracks due to injury, Trubisky may not perform well. In fact, it would be fair to say that playing him could do more harm than good. In that case, you want Sanchez available to stop in and take the heat.

  • Much has been made of the fact that linebacker Pernell McPhee is practicing and looks to be in position to play on Sunday.

    Head coach John Fox said that McPhee is “probably in the best shape he’s ever been in” and “We felt confident just watching him move around today.”

    GM Ryan Pace echoed that thought:

    “Monday’s practice, you felt him out there. He only knows one speed. We’re mindful of that, how we’re going to manage him. But it’s exciting to see. I think you’ll see today with his pads on, the way his body looks, the way he’s moving around. He’s a very disruptive player that provides a lot of pass rush for us. So it’s just exciting to have him back. But we’ll have a plan in place. And fortunately we have enough guys there where we can rotate and be smart about how we utilize him.”

    Much has been made of the fact that McPhee is moving better after losing pounds in the offseason. But McPhee was pretty quick even at his heavier playing weight and what people aren’t saying is the real reason for the weight loss. It because it has a dramatic effect upon a player’s knees.

    Studies show that for each pound of body weight lost, there is a four pound reduction in knee joint stress. For the average person, the accumulated reduction in knee load for a 1-pound loss in weight would be more than 4,800 pounds per mile walked. You can imagine how much that increases in an athlete that runs up and down a football field for a living.

    The hope obviously is that having McPhee play below his normal playing weight will extend his career.

  • One of the more surprising weekend cuts for the Bears was defensive lineman John Jenkins.

    Jenkins is a 6’3″, 327 lb defensive lineman that the Bears signed in the offseason, presumably to be the primary backup for nose guard Eddie Goldman.

    The defense wasn’t the same last year when Goldman was out injured and they had little behind him in terms of depth. So it was surprising that the Bears risked exposing him to waivers before resigning him after putting safety Deiondre’ Hall on injured reserve.

    It all worked out in the end but it makes me wonder what the Bears were planning to do at the position if someone had claimed Jenkins.

  • With no Dolphins game on television what’s left of the Miami viewing audience after the evacuation is complete will get the Bears game. Won’t those poor people have suffered enough?
  • The best news all week for Bears fans? Every single writer for the Chicago Tribune picked the Falcons to win Sunday.

    Chalk this one up as a slam dunk win for the Bears.

We Forgot What a Good Running Back Looks Like and Other Points of View

  • Hub Arkush at Pro Football Weekly on the current state of the Bears roster:

    “For all the early excitement brought by the arrivals of rookies Mitch Trubisky and Tarik Cohen, it’s hard not to feel a bit letdown after the Bears’ final cuts of the preseason Saturday.”

    “With only five wide receivers – realistically only three you’d want on the field – and five tight ends plus a fullback currently, it’s clear there will be a few more changes to the team’s 53-man roster, most likely prior to the opener against Atlanta.

    “That’s a good thing. Because for the moment, this group leaves you feeling a little flat at best.”

    I have to agree. Way too much of this roster looks exactly like it did last year. Even at positions where there were changes like cornerback I question whether the team is actually any better than last year.

    The Bears are essentially relying on better health and better play from their previous draft picks for improvement. I’m not sure that’s going to be enough to provide significant improvement.

  • Brad Biggs, Rich Campbell and Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune all bemoan the Bears lack of talent as they examine the 53 man roster after the cut downs over the weekend. From Campbell:

    “Defensively, the lack of star power puts a ceiling on what to expect. The Bears remain the only NFL team without a defensive player who has been to a Pro Bowl. The other 31 have a least one defensive Pro Bowler from the last two seasons. In other words, the Bears are trailing in the personnel department, which showed last season in their NFL-record-low 11 takeaways.”

    Of course, I agree. But if you are looking for a bright side I’d say that the Bears do have potential Pro Bowl talent in some of their recent draft picks, namely Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman.

    By far the biggest problem that the Bears have is the fact that wide receiver Kevin White hasn’t developed. It’s left them totally bereft of a passing game and, though the running game looks strong, there’s a only so much that you can do against good teams without a legitimate passing threat to go with it.

    You can’t hit on every draft pick. But if anything has doomed the Bears to an – at best – mediocre season, that’s it.

  • Many reports are pointing out the fall that running back Jeremy Langford took over the course of one year. The Bears were looking to him to be their starter this time last year. This year he was cut.The truth is that this isn’t a fall for Langford. The talent at running back is simply so much better that it leaves the average observer wondering, “What were we thinking?”

    Langford is just a guy. We just didn’t recognize it because we forgot what a good running back looks like.

  • Kevin Seifert at ESPN wonders why there have been so many trades this offseason:

    “What’s going on here? Has the NFL embarked on a new era of next-level wheeling and dealing? Or are we overreacting to what history will judge as a bunch of relatively inconsequential moves?”

    “As the ESPN Stats & Information chart shows, NFL teams have made 30 trades since Aug. 1 through late Sunday afternoon. That’s already more trades than we saw between Aug. 1 and the first game of the regular season in each of the previous nine years. The average during that period was 13.3 trades.”

    “Of course, teams have always tried to trade players before releasing or waiving them. So the biggest question to ask here is this: Why are teams giving up draft choices, albeit low-round picks in most cases, for players they could probably have acquired on the open market if they were patient?

    “In some cases, a general manager might feel that the available player is either better or better in his system than the profile of a player he might draft if he holds on to the pick. He might also consider the pick a small price to avoid a bidding war or even a free-agent courtship should he wait for an eventual release.”

    It’s just a guess but the way the salary cap is handled nowadays may have a lot to do with this.

    First, the cap has been rising and many teams probably have more space than usual to work with.

    But, probably more importantly, many of the NFL deals in recent years have been front loaded with guaranteed money to make sure that there’s minimal dead space if the player doesn’t work out.

    That means that there’s less dead guaranteed money accelerating onto the cap when many of the players are being traded. This was, of course, the biggest reason why trades haven’t been that common in the past.

  • I was amused by this prediction from Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Mitch Trubisky’s first start will come … against the Browns in Week 16. The Bears will stubbornly cling to [Mike] Glennon as their starter throughout the season. Not until they finally are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs will they turn to the future and give Trubisky a shot in a comfortable spot: a home game against the wretched Browns.”

    If the Bears aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until week 16, I think we’re all going to be reasonably satisfied regardless of when Trubisky finally plays.

  • Kickers have way too much time on their hands: