Quick Game Comments: Bears at Bengals 12/10/17

Defense

  1. The Bears came out covering the Bengals tighter than they did the 49ers last week. They also seemed to be playing closer to the line of scrimmage than usual to stop the run. It was an interesting decision considering that they were surely rotating their coverage over to cover AJ Green.
  2. The Bengals finally started to run the ball effectively against a beat up Bears front seven late in the first quarter. They easily worked their way down the field for a touchdown.
  3. The Bears defensive backs are going to look back at the dropped interceptions that they had in this game and really be kicking themselves. Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller (at least two) both dropped sure fire turnovers.
  4. The Bears have developed a bad habit of allowing teams to get first downs on third down right at the sticks. It seems like the coverage needs to tighten up in those situations.
  5. You can certainly understand why Bengals fans might be frustrated by Andy Dalton. His accuracy is about a inconsistent as it can be and still be from a NFL starter.
  6. Not a great day for AJ Green. The Bears corners had something to do with that but so did Dalton.

Offense

  1. The Bengals defense looked like they came out flat, probably because they were coming off of a huge game against the Steelers.
  2. The Bears came out running the ball pretty well. It didn’t take the Bengals long to start stacking the line of scrimmage and challenging the Bears to throw the ball. The Bears were glad to take the opportunity to finally do so against the soft, two deep zone that the Bengals like to play rather than the tight man to man they have been facing.
  3. The Bears did a pretty good job driving late in the first half but, as has been their wont, once they got into the red zone they couldn’t turn it into a touchdown.
  4. Mitch Trubisky looked good today and, if he wasn’t pinpoint all game, he was, at least, generally accurate. He seems to read the field well and seemed to be finding the open man, especially if that man was open in the middle of the field where he was easy to see.
  5. One thing I didn’t like was how often I saw Trubisky throwing off of his back foot. The throws weren’t horrible but he’s not driving the ball and the ball placement isn’t as good as it should be when he does it.
  6. It certainly helped that Trubisky was getting plenty of good protection.
  7. To my eye, Trubisky showed a willingness to throw into tight coverage that wasn’t always there earlier in the year as he was a bit more aggressive.
  8. Terrible drop in the end zone aside, Adam Shaheen had a good ball game to give all of the fans a little hope.
  9. Credit Michael Johnson with a couple good sacks but at the same time he took advantage of some miserable blocks.
  10. Both Tarik Cohen (over 10 yds per carry) and Jordan Howard (over 145 yards) Really ran with good vision today. Both had good days as the team as a whole had a good rushing day.
  11. It was nice to see the Bears reverse the stat that was most reflective of last game by dominating the time of possession instead of being dominated.
  12. Kendall Wright (10 receptions) had a really good day as well.

Miscellaneous

  1. Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Brady Quinn (analyst) and Jenny Taft (sideline reporter) were your announcers. I love it when the Bears draw this announcing team. I always know with complete confidence up front that I can just turn the volume down and I won’t miss anything.
  2. Mike Nugent was short on the opening kickoff. Same thing with the kickoff immediately before half time after a Bears field goal. You wonder why they didn’t keep Pat O’Donnell doing the kickoffs, as he seemed to do a pretty good job. Nugent then proceeded to miss his first extra point with the Bears. Great start [eye roll].

    Tarik Cohen seemed to be having a tough time judging the ball on punt returns. Its possible the wind was up on the river front but either way he needs to be able to field those.

  3. Why is that seemingly every time Tarik Cohen pulls off a big play, the Bears manage to crush it with a penalty. They did it again in the second quarter as Cohen scored a touchdown on a 13 yard pass with a nice run after the catch. The Bears ultimately settled for a field goal after making a circus out of what should have been 7 points.

    Seven penalties in the first half. It’s totally ridiculous.

  4. Jordan Howard had a bad drop the first play from scrimmage for the Bears. Adam Shaheen dropped a touchdown at the end of the first half. That turned into a field goal.
  5. Eddie Jackson had a nice interception on a Dalton ball that was knocked into the air. That was followed by a nice job stripping the ball and recovering the fumble on a pass play near the sideline.
  6. The Bears did a good job of beating the Bengals at the line of scrimmage today on both sides of the ball. As is usually the case, the team that does that tends to be the better team overall for most of the game. That was the case today.
  7. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team more flat than the Bengals were today coming off of that Monday Night war with the Steelers. I hate to say it but there were guys out there that I frankly thought just didn’t care. It was just one week but that’s a team that certainly looked like it’s in need of an overhaul. Based upon what I saw I don’t like the look of Marvin Lewis’s immediate future there.
  8. The Bears were frustrating watch again this week, albeit for a different reason. For once, the young talent with Jordan Howard, Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson and Trubisky was evident against a flat and wounded Bengals team. But their penchant for eliminating big plays with stupid penalties, ewspecially in the first half, held them back.

    There’s something here to work with. But these guys have got to execute better as a team.

Quick Comments: 49ers at Bears 2017-12-03

Defense

  1. The Bears went from playing the best team in the NFC to the worst but it looked the same at the line of scrimmage early. The Bears were dominated. They struggled to stop the run and they couldn’t get a pass rush. They never really got much penetration against the run all game.
  2. I’ll cut them a little break on the pass rush. The Bears seemed to think that the best way to play the 49ers new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was to drop 8 into coverage and rush three. It wasn’t working too well early to my eye and apparently the Bears agreed. They started to blitz more in the second quarter and, naturally, started getting more pressure.
  3. I thought it was interesting to see the 49ers occasionally go to the hurry up with a quarterback that supposedly wasn’t up to speed with the offense. Generally speaking I thought Garoppolo did a pretty good job with it.
  4. I found this game to be extremely frustrating to watch as the bears struggled to get off the field. The 49ers dominated the time of possession and dissected the Bears zone defense pretty much as easily as the Eagles did last week, holding the ball about twice as long as the Bears. In fairness, it was bend and don’t break and the 49ers settled to field goal after field goal and I suppose giving up 15 points could be considered to be a successful game. But it looked like the Bears were trying to hang around and let the 49ers stop themselves rather than stopping them with aggressive play.
  5. Like a lot of teams before them, the 49ers went right at Kyle Fuller and avoided Prince Amukamara.
  6. The 49ers started to attack the middle in the passing game in the second quarter. That makes sense given that the Bears were starting Chris Prosinski, who they re-signed just this week.
  7. The 49ers had good success rolling Garoppolo out. He’s more mobile than he looks and he throws well on the run. You’d like to see the Bears do that more with Trubisky.
  8. Garoppolo is also extremely accurate and has a pretty good arm. I’m impressed.
  9. Lamarr Houston got a sack and all I could think was “Don’t blow the knee. Don’t blow the knee.”

Offense

  1. The Bears relied heavily on the run and the short pass early. They seem to have rediscovered the slant pass as they successfully threw several early.
  2. The Bears concentrated heavily on passes over the middle. I don’t know if that’s a nod to Trubisky to keep the play in front of him and limit his reads or if they just think the 49ers are weak there.
  3. Dontrelle Inman looks like a find. He looks better than a #4 receiver which is what he was billed as. Of course, we wouldn’t know what a good #2 or #1 looks like around here anymore.
  4. Trubisky generally looked more accurate today which was encouraging.
  5. Trubisky struggled to find open receivers. How much of that was him and how much the receivers was hard to tell. The replays often showed open men. You wonder if head coach John Fox hasn’t made him gun shy in an effort to prevent turnovers.
  6. Neither Charles Leno nor Bobby Massie had a great game today. Both allowed pressure and Leno had a damaging holding penalty in the fourth quarter.
  7. This was a pretty miserable offensive game for the Bears. They struggled to get first downs, struggled to block the edges and struggled to get open. It was tough to watch.

Miscellaneous

  1. Andrew Catalon and James Lofton were your announcers. The broadcast was a bare bones affair without much of the detailed analysis of replays that we often see. The network seemed to be more focused on bringing back historical footage of both teams than in providing insight into the current game. Lofton didn’t teach me a whole lot. Overall, nothing special.
  2. The Bears had punter Neil O’Donnell kicking off. That’s unusual but he did a pretty good job. At the same time, it led to speculation that new kicker Cairo Santos was having trouble with his previously injured groin.

    Tarik Cohen had an amazing 60 yard punt return where he reversed field. That was worth the price of admission.

    Cohen had another wonderful return in the fourth quarter that was brought back due to a block in the back. It was a bad penalty away from the ball by Ben Braunecker.

    Generally speaking I wasn’t impressed with the 49ers discipline on the coverage teams. They also looked slower than the Bears. Or at least too slow to keep up with Cohen.

    Cohen, on the other hand, had an amazing game both offensively and on special teams.

  3. A Charles Leno holding call killed a Tarik Cohen 25 yard run in the second quarter. Having said that the 49ers killed themselves with repeated penalties in the first half with 6 for 43 yards.
  4. Drops
  5. Kyle Fuller got a big interception in the first quarter. Fuller was itching to get one as he’d gotten a couple good breaks on the ball on passes before that.
  6. “Tough to watch” pretty much sums up this game. Most of it was simply watching the 49ers offense operate against a Bears defense that didn’t seem real interested in the kind of aggressive play that might have stopped them. Special teams weren’t bad even considering the kicker apparently had a bad groin. But the Bears offense was more miserable than usual and couldn’t move the ball.

    This was generally ugly, ugly football. It doesn’t look like the kind of football most of the rest of the league is playing. It certainly doesn’t look like the kind of football a team on the rise is supposed to be playing.

Quick Comments: Bears at Eagles 11/26/17

Defense

  1. The Eagles come out mixing it up. They executed pretty well all game, to say the least.
  2. The Bears pass rush was anemic all game unless they were blitzing.
  3. Speaking of the blitz, Wentz is pretty elusive in the pocket. Sort of Tom Brady-esque there.
  4. The Eagles did a good job against that blitz in general, frequently taking advantage for some big gains. The bears weren’t getting there quick enough.
  5. What’s really bad is that the Bears were playing a light box and they still struggled to cover the Eagles receivers. The Eagles took advantage with some good long runs. By the end of the first quarter and the Eagles were rolling both on the ground and through the air.
  6. It certainly doesn’t help that the Bears were manhandled at the line of scrimmage.
  7. Christian Jones looked pretty good in coverage this game.
  8. It was interesting watching the rookie Eddie Jackson giving Prince Amukamara hell for not trying to knock Alshon Jeffery off of his route after a catch where Jackson didn’t have time to get over to help. In truth, it was a common problem for the cornerbacks.
  9. Kyle Fuller was having a hard time keeping his footing out there in the first half. I’m wondering if he had the wrong cleats on.
  10. Zach Ertz obvioulsy had a good game as the Bears safeties had a hard time matchng his physicality.

Offense

  1. Here’s all you need to know. The Bears didn’t have a first down until 2 minutes into the third quarter. The first half time of possession was 20:03 to 9:50 Eagles.This was the most disgusting offensive performance I’ve seen all year. The offense totally hung the defense out to dry. The whole unit should apologize.
  2. The Bears tried to continue to open up the offense and came out throwing on first down. Unfortunately Trubisky was struggling with his accuracy, as has been his wont of late.
  3. The Bears had a very hard time running the ball against the Eagles number one rush defense. No great surprise.
  4. The Bears really struggled to block the Eagles.
  5. It didn’t help that the Eagles looked so well coached, correctly reading the plays as they developed and reacting quickly.
  6. I like the idea of putting Trubisky in the pistol formation. It gets him out from under center to a place where he’s more comfortable and yet its easier to run out of.
  7. One thing about Trubisky. I’ve been tough on him for his accuracy and rightfully so. But some of it is because he’s trying to throw with anticipation to his receviers. Perhaps it willpay off in the end as he gets better at it.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis and Pam Oliver were your announcers.This was the team that Jay Cutler was supposed to be a part of and it would have been really interesting to have heard what he had to say.

    “Hey, at least Trubisky doesn’t have Martellus Bennett laying down on him and he doesn’t have Brandon Marshall in his ear.

    “Whatever.”

  2. Pat O’Donnell had a pretty awful punt to set the Eagles up in Bears territory in the first quarter. The possession resulted in a touchdown. Another blocked punt gave the Eagles field position in Bears territory in the second quarter.Cairo Santos missed a 54 yard field goal by a mile wide right.

    Kicking wasn’t the only problem. Return teams were generally pretty miserable as the Bear were constantly in poor field position, often with a poor return in conjunction with a penalty.

  3. There were plenty of penalties on both sides today. Only one team was good enough to be able to afford them.Having said that, its not a big surprise that a defense coached by Jim Schwartz is undisciplined. The Bears are familiar with the way his defenses play, both good and bad, from his days as the Lions head coach.
  4. Drops didn’t play a huge role today.
  5. One of the few really good things that the Bears did today was strip the ball. It’s a shame it didn’t result in more points.Two turnovers took place on a bazaar play where Malcolm Jenkins intercepted another poor throw from Mitch Trubisky. Interestingly Dion Simms got the ball back by stripping Jenkins, actually giving the bears better field position. They were unable to take advantage of it as Adam Shaheen missed a block on 3rd and 2.

    Adrian Amos stripped the ball from LaGarrette Blount after a long run, giving the Bears the ball in Eagles territory. That ended with a missed field goal.

    Cre’Von LeBlanc caused another fumble with a hit on Jay Ajayi on another weird play. The ball went into the end zone where Nelson Agholor recovered it.

    Isaiah Irving recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.

    Trubisky threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that was overturned to become an incomplete pass but not before the Eagles got to do a line dance on the field. That was followed by a real pick and another dance.

  6. This was total domination in pretty much every way. The Eagles not only have far more skill position talent, they dominated the Bears on both sides at the line of scrimmage.The Bears defense couldn’t get off the field as they couldn’t stop the Eagles on fourth down. The special teams were a disaster. The offense couldn’t execute and the rookie quarterback stunk.

    It’s hard to argue that this team is improving after such a total disaster. This was a tough one to watch – for fans and ownership. It’s one that may factor heavily in John Fox’s and maybe Ryan Pace’s future unless this team starts showing a lot better soon.

    Right now they feel a long, long way off.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Vikings 1/1/17

Defense

      1. Minnesota came out mixing it up and did a lot of damage with big plays on the Bears young defensive backs.  Cre’Von LeBlanc gave up a big catch to Cordarrelle Patterson as he let him get too far behind him while training him – which seems to be a habit with him.  Adrian Amos missed a tackle on Jerick McKinnon which allowed him to score the touchdown.

        The sequence highlights one problem with the Bears.  Yes, they’re playing lots of young players.  But are they really any good?  You wouldn’t know it by this series.

        In any case, despite some better play from both of these guys in the second half, I have very serious doubts about the future of both with the Bears.

      2. I’m really tired of seeing missed tackles play after play from these guys.  Something needs to be done about this.
      3. The Bears struggled to get pressure on Sam Bradford through a totally miserable Vikings offensive line.  That exposed a young and evidently less talented than people think Bears defensive backfield.  Very disappointing.
      4. The Vikings evidently decided that they could attack the Bears linebackers and safeties.  Bradford fed the ball effectively to the running backs and the tight ends, especially Kyle Rudolph who it seems the Bears simply couldn’t cover.

Offense

      1. Dowell Loggains apparently decided to quiet critics by running the ball more.  The first 3 plays and 10 of the first 12 plays were runs.  They ran the ball 22 of 31 total plays in the first half and were very successful at over 6 yards per rush.It was really nice to watch Howard run today as he broke the Bears rookie rushing record.  He broke tackles everywhere and ran with great vision.
      2. The Vikings evidently decided to let Xavier Rhoades cover Jeffery man-to-man.  The Bears tried to take advantage but Barkley and Jeffery had trouble getting on the same page.
      3. Had a great time watching the pass from former college quarterback turned receiver Cam Meredith to current quarterback Matt Barkley.  Some how I don’t see them risking that with Jay Cutler.  In any case, it’s the kind of fun play you run to keep everyone interested in the end of a crappy season.
      4. The Bears frequently looked to me like they weren’t concentrating and offensively they just weren’t always on the same page.  But there  were a couple of plays where Vikings ran right past Bears blockers to disrupt plays in the backfield that were especially bothersome.One was a miss of Eric Kendricks, where he ran right past tight end Daniel Brown in the red zone to disrupt a play.  Everson Giffen disrupted a Howard fourth down run that ultimately didn’t make it after running right by Charles Leno.  This supposedly was a missed block by Cameron Meredith but in any case Griffen was barely touched.

        These plays were either poorly designed, poorly executed or both.  They were very costly and very annoying.

Miscellaneous

      1. Dick Stockton, David Diehl, and Kristina Pink were your announcers.  I didn’t think they added anything special to the broadcast.  But I won’t say that they injured it, either.  Sometimes I guess you have to just be happy with that.
      2. Not a good day for Bears special teams.  Marcus Sherels had a 36 yard punt return to the Chicago 42.  Braylon Addison fumbled a punt late in the first half in Bears territory.  That set up a Viking touchdown.Deonte Thompson did have a very nice 60 yard kick return with 9 seconds left in the first half.  That set up a field goal.
      3. Drops weren’t a major issue.
      4. Six penalties for 49 yards isn’t a terrible game but it wasn’t good, given that the Vikings only had 2.Willie Young was off sides near the goal line early in the second quarter.  The Bears held but it could have been pretty damaging.

        The Bears sustained a long drive at the end of the first half for a touchdown despite a couple of holding calls on Bobby Massie and Josh Sitton.  Part of me was disgusted and part of me was glad to see them over come the problems to score.

      5. Very disappointing to see Matt Barkley throw an interception at the goal line on only his second pass of the game.   The pass was under thrown and behind Alshon Jeffery.  He followed that with another one in the red zone on the first drive of the second half. Both were his fault and both took points off the board.  Finally, he had a fumble in the fourth quarter that was returned for a touchdown.It was critical for Barkley to adjust after miserable showings the two previous games to demonstrate that he could protect the football.  If there’s one thing John Fox won’t put up with, its turnovers from his quarterback.  Barkley may not be back in any capacity next year.  Frankly, I don’t think he should.

        Jeremy Langford did his future no good by fumbling early in the second quarter in Bears territory.  The Vikings turned it into a touchdown.

        The Bears did (finally) get one back as Cre’Von LeBlanc did pick one off in the end zone.

      6. It isn’t very hard to figure this one out, boys and girls.  You can’t turn the ball over like this and win football games.The Bears keep saying that effort isn’t a problem.  Great.  But does it matter if you can’t play smart?

        Sorry.  It’s not brilliant analysis.  It’s just the truth.

 

No Game Comments: Washington at Chicago 12/24/16

Sorry.  Traveling for Christmas and won’t see this game against the Redskins until Christmas morning at the earliest.

I know a lot of you are pulling for a loss to get a higher draft pick but I’d rather see the team finish on the upswing.  I’m going to go so far as to buck the odds and predict a victory.

Go Bears.

Management

 

 

Quick Game Comments: Packers at Bears 12/18/16

Defense

  1. Two third downs on the first drive, two blown plays by Nick Kwiatkowski as first he missed a sack on Aaron Rogers and then he gave up a catch to tight end Jared Cook on 3rd and 11. The Packers eventually scored a touchdown on the drive.I know he’s just a rookie and he needs time.  But you’ll forgive me if I say that I have my share of doubts about this guy.
  2. Aaron Rogers looked good moving in the pocket early in this game as he did a nice job of eluding the Bears pass rush. However, its worth noting that the Bears were getting pressure and it wasn’t always because they were blitzing.
  3. Also speaking of the pressure, Rogers didn’t do the Packer offensive line any favors. He held the ball an awful long time on some of his drop backs hoping (apparently) that someone would get open.  How much of that was Rogers and how much of that was the Bears defensive backs is debatable but I’m guessing it’s a combination.  When Rogers is at his best, he’s dropping back and getting rid of the ball quickly to a receiver somewhere.
  4. Aaron Rogers looked good moving in the pocket early in this game as he did a nice job of eluding the Bears pass rush. However, its worth noting that the Bears were getting pressure and it wasn’t always because they were blitzing.
  5. Also worth noting was how well scouted the Bears had the Packers. For instance, in the first quarter on third and two but the Bears apparently knew from the formation that a pass was coming and kept only 6 in the box.  And a pass it was.  It was like that all game.
  6. I’m impressed by Ty Montgomery as a running back. He’s really quite a patient runner for a wide receiver playing running back.  I like him and at the moment I’m thinking he’s the best running back on the roster including the injured players.
  7. The Bears initially did a nice job against the run. The defensive line got good penetration and the linebackers attacked the line of scrimmage.  I’ll give Montgomery and Christine Michael some credit for breaking tackles but some awful tackling on the part of the Bears led to some big runs that totally ruined the effort here.  As a result, the Packers had a big day on the ground.  Very frustrating to watch as a Bears fan.
  8. J. Wilson had a good game today with 3 tackles, 1 for loss, and a sack. You have to wonder if he’s on the Bears radar for the future.
  9. Pernell McPhee finally pulled a sack out this game as he had two and he also had two tackles for loss. He needed to start producing. 

    The­­­re’s no more guaranteed money on McPhee’s deal and he’s due a $200,000 roster bonus June 1 with a base salary of $6.95 million for 2017.  That’s a lot to pay for a guy who has shown a lot of potential but who has really only had limited success for the team.”It’s going to be serious, especially me,” McPhee said. “I am coming back. I have a chip (on my shoulder) bigger than, I don’t know what. This offseason, I am going hard. That is going to be my focus. Just going to make sure I give it all I have the rest of this season and then go this offseason and get my whole body right. It’s going to be a transformation.”

    Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston is on injured reserve and he is due $6 million in 2017.  He will likely be released after the season.  That could help McPhee as they likely don’t want to be down two pass rushers going into the offseason acquisition period.  They don’t’ exactly grow on trees.

  1. Many will point to the offense for coming back to make this a game. As far as I’m concerned, big kudos are to the defense are in order.  Their fortitude in the face of multiple turnovers from Barkley was admirable.

Offense

  1. In contrast to Aaron Rogers, I thought Matt Barkely’s accuracy and ball placement was off in the cold weather and I’d say it was a big factor in the interceptions that he overthrew to receivers.Barkley is a California boy and if he sticks with the team next year I think he may need to adjust to the brutal Chicago weather.
  2. It took a while but Matt Barkley finally connected with Alshon Jeffery with 6 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.Jeffery never really established that connection with Brian Hoyer at any point. A good part of that was Hoyer’s tendency to go where the coverage dictated and, given that Jeffery was the best receiver on the field and frequently double covered, he was rarely the first option.

    Barkley seems to be cut from the same cloth but Jeffery found himself in some soft coverage with the Packers protecting a big lead and Barkley took advantage.

  3. Nice stiff arm from Josh Bellamy on Demarious Randall on the first Bears touchdown. I was impressed by the fact that he got in after taking a wide receiver screen behind the line of scrimmage more than 10 yards out.
  4. Dowell Loggains was frequently criticized for not running Jordan Howard enough last week with only 13 carries. Several weeks ago, the Packers held Howard to 22 rushing yards on a mere seven carries. He also didn’t have a catch. It was Howard’s least productive game since he took over as the starter in Week 4.Before the Packers went up 17, the Bears had only run the ball 11 times compared to 23 passes.  However, in fairness to Loggains the Bears were going nowhere on the ground for most of the game up to that point. They had about 4 yards per carry at that point and Howard had some nice runs but the truth is that the Packers stopped him cold at the line of scrimmage most of the time.

    The Bears won’t go far in that kind of weather without running the ball better.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, and Pam Oliver were your announcers. Lynch isn’t the best color man in the league but he isn’t the worst.  At least he comments on the most relevant material given to him, missing very little.  But having said that, he didn’t teach me much and I found his relentlessly positive commentary when describing both teams to be irritating and he had a bad habit of describing missed penalties as “good plays” by the player who committed them.  Burkhardt was irritatingly overly enthusiastic as well and both.
  2. Special teams on both sides were fine. Josh Bellamy downed a punt at the one yard line on a nice play and that was the highlight for the Bears.
  3. The Bears had their share of drops but Aaron Rogers was absolutely victimized by his receiver’s inability to hold on to the ball. Jordy Nelson dropped a long gain in the first quarter and Devante Adams dropped not 1 but 2 touchdowns.  I actually laughed when Lynch called the Packer receivers “normally sure handed” when, in fact, they are normally anything but.  Having said that, this was ridiculous.For the Bears, Alshon Jeffery dropped a pass in the first quarter that may or may not have been a first down.  Cameron Meredith dropped a first down in the third quarter.  He was interfered with but he still should have had it. He also had a potentially big one in the fourth quarter with the Bears driving on their comeback. Bellamy dropped yet another pass, this time at the end of the third quarter.
  4. Killer holding penalty on Tracy Porter in the first quarter gave the Packers a first down when they were backed up in their own territory.
  5. Barkley threw an interception in the first half that I may have been a little underthrown. But he threw two more that were definitely overthrown in the cold.  Julius Peppers came around practically untouched past Charles Leno to cause a strip sack deep in Bears territory.  He also recovered the fumble.
  6. I thought the Bears put forth a good effort today and I saw a lot of good things, especially after they came back from the dead to score 17 points in the fourth quarter to make a game of it.  But no one can be surprised by this result.  When you give the ball away 4 times and you get no turnovers yourself, what do you expect?

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 12/11/16

Defense

  • The Bears came out playing man to man defense.  The Lions did a good job of passing against it.
  • Matthew Stafford came out ready to play.  He was accurate, he got rid of the ball quickly and on time.
  • I was also impressed with Stafford’s mobility this game.  He did a nice job of avoiding the rush, all things considered as he made hay outside the pocket.
  • The Bears did a nice job of holding the defensive front early and they did a nice job of both stopping the run and getting pressure on Stafford.  The Lions offensive line is certainly nothing to write home about and the Bears did a nice job of taking advantage of that.
  • Leonard Floyd, in particular, really looked good today.  He and Akiem Hicks seemed to be living in the Lions offensive backfield.

Offense

  • Everyone wondered how Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was going to attach Matt Barkely.  It became evident early on.  Though they mixed it up a bit, they blitzed him quite a bit the whole game.  He wasn’t perfect but I thought he handled it reasonably well all things considered.
  • The Bears response was to run the ball and stick with the short passing game and they didn’t do a bad job of it.  Eventually the Lions stacked the box and dared Barkley to beat them through the air.
  • The offensive line did a pretty good job of moving the Lions defensive front and the Bears found some success in the running game.  They protected Barkley pretty well despite the blitzing up until the fourth quarter when Barkley started to see a lot more pressure.
  • Having said that, I thought Barkley’s ball placement eroded a bit in the after the first quarter.
  • Barkley did a nice job early of getting the ball out quickly and accurately to the right receiver.  He also showed some all important pocket movement to find throwing lanes that we haven’t seen before.
  • Barkley tried hard to throw an interception when under pressure in the second half.  It reminded me a great deal of his first start.  He’s going to have to get out of the habit of just chucking the ball up every time he gets in trouble.

Miscellaneous

  • Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots were your announcers.  I don’t have a problem with these guys in that they are professional and clear.  They hit all of the high points and do a good job of describing the action.  But if you are waiting for those, “Gee, I’ve been watching football for forty years and I never thought of that” moments, you aren’t going to find many.  I didn’t learn much from them today.
  • Special teams were OK on both sides.
  • I like Josh Bellamy as an underdog well enough.  But I’m getting tired of watching him drop balls.  Having said that, it was really the Lions who dropped far too many balls today.  That, along with their penalties really hurt them.
  • The Jeff Triplette officiating crew held to form today, calling a lot of penalties as is their habit.  The Lions (7 for 55 yards) shot themselves in the foot with wit too many penalties at critical times and the man to man coverage that the Bears were running caused them to commit a number of damaging pass interference penalties that hurt them badly.  The had 11 total for 139 yards and a couple holding penalties on the final Bears drive in the fourth quarter were killers.
  • The Bears finally came up with a turnover as Demantre Hurst intercepted a ball in end zone in the fourth quarter with a big play.  That was follwed by a pick six by Cre’Von LeBlanc that put the Bears up 17-13 midway through the fourth quarter.  Now it has to go from being a miracle when they get one to something we see regularly.
  • This wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll see but the Lions clearly played better when it counted today.  The Bears had their chances and couldn’t get the job done.  Clearly learning to finish is one more thing that this team needs to do before they will climb out of the cellar to win more football games.

Quick Game Comments: 49ers at Bears 12/4/16

Defense

  1. The 49ers came out mixing it up but it was evident form the beginning that they were going to be much better running the ball and before long that’s what they concentrated on. The blocking up front in terms of this aspect of the game was excellent.One of the questions of the day was whether, with Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan out, Nick Kwiatkowski and Jonathan Timu would be able to stop Carlos Hyde and the 49er running game. The answer as far as I could see was “no”. Thought Kwiatkowski made the occasional play, both linebackers were generally were well blocked and they certainly struggled to play downhill and attack the line of scrimmage. Yards per run.
  2. The blocking was not excellent when it came to the pass rush and the Bears got good pressure on Colin Kaepernick. The Bears had 5 sacks and 4 quarterback hits through three quarters on Kaepernick. They had six for the game including the one for a late safety on Blaine Gabbert.
  3. The 49ers had Timu spotted as a weakness in coverage right off the bat and they were targeting him by sending the running backs out wide as receivers. It looked to me like it might have worked better on a day when the passing game was clicking. That might be womething we see other teams do in the future.
  4. Akiem Hicks had 10 tackles and two sacks and was all over the place. He kept the Bears in the game almost single handedly in the first half.
  5. Colin Keapernick has been performing at very high level. It’s hard to say that his performance today was consistent with that. Kaepernick entered the game with 8 TDs compared to just 2 INTs and his passer rating was 96.0.The problem is that neither team threw the ball much in the first half so Kaepernick was largely reduced to a runner. Of course, he’s athletic and he did a decent job of that.

    In the second half when both teams threw the ball more, Kaepernick’s accuracy was pretty awful. He either missed, underthrew or overthrew a number of wide open receivers in the snow and cold weather. I’d say he took a step back. At the end of the third quarter, the 49ers had -21 yards passing and Kaepernick was 1 of 5 for 4 yards. He was replaced by Blaine Gabbert in the fourth quarter.

    The Bears might have won this game doubly by losing if Kaepernick had looked good. Not would it have put them into a position to draft ahead of the 49ers in 2017 but Kaepernick’s performance would have been one more reason for the 49ers to believe that he’s their future answer at quarterback and it would have given them one more reason not to draft one in the early rounds.

    As it is, the question of what the 49ers will do at the quarterback position next year remains up in the air.

  6. There were pre-game reports that Willie Young might not play due to a knee injury. But he did play and, like the rest of the front seven when it came to the pass rush, he played well doing his part to get pressure on Kaepernick. He had a sack.

Offense

  1. Like the 49ers, the Bears came out running the ball against one of the worst run defenses in the league. It seemed evident from the beginning that was the plan.Of course, the problem with that plan, as with the 49ers, is that you have to execute. The Bears were constantly finding themselves in situations where it was third and long due to penalties and mistakes.
  2. There was almost no passing for almost the entire first half. Then the Bears went into the two minute drill and suddenly they come to life, pass their way down the field and take the lead at half time by scoring a touchdown making it 7-6. Apparent this is Matt Barkley’s specialty and they should run the offense like that all the time.
  3. Perhaps the best quality that Barkley possesses is that he seems to know where the ball needs to go and he gets rid of it quickly to the right spot most of the time. Barkley doesn’t hold on to the ball long. It was hard to say after the first half that he showed that again today just because there was so little passing. But where they did throw, especially I the second half, he generally looked like he did when he was at his bet last week.I thought outside linebacker Willie Young’s quote on Barkley was interesting. Young was a seventh round pick and a long shot to be in the league as long as he has been.

    “Guys like me are few and far between. But if we get an opportunity, the only thing we know how to do is take advantage of it. Whatever happens after that, happens. I play on the edge. I honestly feel like [Barkley] played on the edge also.”

    Despite that, I have to believe that Barkley’s physical limitations probably will keep him as a backup in the NFL and my impression is that is what the Bears see him as. But if they have only found a solid back up, at least it puts them one step closer to having a plan for the position as a whole.

  4. After dropping last week’s game winning touchdown and then another easy catch for a big gain early in the second half, you had to wonder if Josh Bellamy was going to collapse under the weight of his own failures. But he didn’t. He came back to make a nice catch on the same drive that he dropped the ball, setting the Bears up on the 49er 11 yard line. He then made several nice catches on the next drive, one of which brought them to the 49 six yard line. Both drives resulted in touchdowns.
  5. Credit the Bears patchwork offensive line for doing a decent job protecting Barkley. He was only sacked once.
  6. One of the younger players that has caught the Bears attention is tight end Daniel Brown, an undrafted free agent with the Ravens last year. Brown is a pass catching tight end who is a converted wide receiver. He had 3 catches for 24 yards last week in place of Zach Miller and 2 catches for 13 yards this week. Perhaps his best play was when he drew a pass interference call in the endzone that set the Bears up on the 49er one yard line near the end of the half. They scored the touchdown.You get the impression that the Bears think they’ve found something in Brown (he played in 54 of the 81 snaps last week) but its too early to tell whether he will pan out. So far so good.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin were your announcers. I thought that Johnston did a good job of providing insight into what was really a dog game no matter how you look at it. Kudos to this team for not simply phoning it in.
  2. It wasn’t a good game for Bears special teams. It started on the opening kick off where the 49ers returner bobbled the football but still got beyong the 25 yard line and didn’t get better from there.A blocked punt resulted in the 49ers getting the ball on the Bears 4 yard line. Fortunately the 49ers are as undisciplined as the Bears are and an unsportsman-like conduct penalty pushed them back to the 19. The 49ers settled for a field goal. Paul Lasike also dropped a kick off that ended up leaving the Bears deep in their own territory near the end of the first half.
  3. The Bears didn’t do too badly with only 5 penalties.  But the 49ers had far too many with 11 and some, like the pass interference in the end zone that set up the Bears first touchdown, were very damaging
  4. Jordan Howard entered the game leading the league with 7 dropped passes this season. So its good news that he didn’t drop any today that I thought he really should have had. Despite making some good catches as mentioned above, Bellamy still had two bad drops. That really has to stop. The 49ers had some awful drops in the second half as well.
  5. A fumbled kickoff return by Deonte Thompson gave the ball to the 49ers the ball at the Chicago 37 yard line. This was immediately following the blocked punt that handed the 49ers a field goal. So not a good sequence.  Other than that, turnovers weren’t much of a factor this game except that the Bears, one again, didn’t get any.
  6. I thought it was interesting that the 49ers came out “cold” in this game in more than one way. After playing well against the Dolphins last week, head coach Chip Kelly chose to keep them in sunny Orlando where the temperatures were in the 80s to practice all week. Meanwhile, the Bears were practicing in game conditions at Halas Hall. You have to wonder if Kelly’s decision to keep the team in the warm temperatures in Florida factored into the team’s slow start in this game as it was laye din some ugly winter weather.
  7. There were over 13,000 no shows for this game and frankly it looked like it was more than that on television. I guess that’s hardly surprising in cold weather with two of the worst teams in the NFL facing off.I’ve seen it suggested that the Bears don’t care that much about the low attendance because the tickets are already sold. I don’t know what the split is with the Chicago Parks District but I have to believe that the lost revenue from parking and concessions is significant.

    You can bet your life that they care about that.

  8. For those of you who are looking to see if John Fox gets fired after the season is over, you can stop. He and Ryan Pace look to me like they’re joined at the hip. Yes, I know that statistically Marc Trestman’s Bears did better but Trestman lost the locker room and that had more to do with his departure than anything else. All indications are that’s not the case with Fox and unless something changes, he’s not going anywhere.
  9. The Bears are actually a better team than the 49ers when healthy. But you could argue that mediocre teams need seasons like this to get better. With all of the injuries that the Bears have sustained, they are probably going to end up with a higher draft pick than their roster would otherwise dictate. In the end, whether you are elite or not depends on your ability to get impact players. And those are much easier to find at the top of the draft.
  10. I don’t like suggesting it but there were indications that the 49ers flat out gave up late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter in this game. There were a lot of lapses in concentration, a lot of drops, a lot of bad defense being played out there. You have to wonder how much of the problem with that team is simple lack of heart.Fortunately the young Bears don’t seem to have that problem. They seem to hang in and play hard no matter the situation. In this case it served them well as they played a team that had been playing well in tough weather and played better than they did.

Quick Game Comments: Titans at Bears 11/27/16

Offense

  1. Some surprises  on the Bears first possession.  First play of the game is a long bomb that draws a pass interference call.  So much for easing Matt Barkley into the game the way that most teams would do.
  2. Second surprise, the Bears go for it on fourth and one on the Titan 30 yard line.  They didn’t get it.  Perhaps this as much as anything suggests that it this isn’t so much about wins and losses and it is about evaluation.  The Bear have nothing to lose and that, obviously, is going to be the mentality for the rest of the year.  There were plenty of guys out there who looked like they were having fun in their moment to shine in place of injured players.  Marquess Wilson looked pretty happy to just be catching passes and someone named Daniel Brown made a nice catch for the Bears first  touchdown.
  3. Having said all that the Bears really came out running.   Seven of their first 12 plays were runs and they were averaging almost 6 yards per carry.
  4. Titans really look like they came out flat for this game.  There aren’t that many games that they go into as the favorites and you wonder if they didn’t take the Bears seriously.  Whatever it was, it didn’t last long as they quickly began to dominate.
  5. Cody Whitehair had another brain fart as he had a bad snap deep in Bears territory that killed a drive.
  6. Kudos to Matt Barkley for standing in the pocket and looking down the barrel of the gun to deliver some tough throws knowing he was going to get hit.
  7. Give the Bears some credit.  The whole stadium knew they were going to throw in the fourth quarter during their comeback and they did a decent job of protecting Barkley, who got the ball out fast.

 

Defense

  1. The Titans also came out running as expected and they did  a nice job of it.  It nicely set up the play action pass for big games, particularly in the first quarter where at least one long pass was completed to Delany Walker as Adrian Amos was caught flat footed looking for the run.  He’s got to understand that he’s being set up and he should be looking for that throw.
  2. Bryce Callahan wasn’t much better as he was repeatedly burned.  His job has to be in jeopardy.
  3. The play action pass also really helped what is an average Titan receiving corp excel.
  4. The Titans really dominated the line of scrimmage.  They protected Marcus Mariota well and the pass rush rarely gave Marcus Mariota much trouble.  More importantly, they completely neutralized the Bears front seven rush in the running game.  Nearly every run got to the second and third level.
  5. Marcus Mariota did some big damage with his mobility.  He typically dropped back, looked for a target and if he didn’t see someone relatively quickly, he took off.  It was something you expect to see a rookie do but it was still plenty effective.
  6. Mariota has to lose the cheesy mustache and the soul patch.  It looks ridiculous.
  7. Nice catch by Rishard Matthews right before the half for the Titans third touchdown.
  8. Nick Kwiatkowski didn’t do much special but he held his own.  He was the primary force that stopped Demarco Murray from scoring a touchdown last in the third quarter.
  9. Mariota had a wonderful game.  The guy throws a pretty deep ball.

 

Miscellaneous

  1. Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots were your announcers.  I found it to be amusing that the Bears didn’t even rate a sideline reporters.  They weren’t irritating and they did a decent job of accurately describing the action.  Having aid that, I can’t say that I learned much.  When the audio went out briefly in the second quarter I can’t say that I missed it that much.
  2. Special teams weren’t bad.  The Bears pulled a surprise of the type that the Titans have been pulling off recently.  They started the second half with an onside kick and recovered it.  Bears special teams coordinator Jeff Rogers trained under Titans special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman.  Perhaps he’s trying to show that he can coach like the older veteran.
  3. The Titans were really burned by some pass interference calls in the first half.  As it turns out, no harm done as the Bears went for it on fourth and one and didn’t complete the pass on the first one and Matt Barkley threw an interception deep in Titan territory after the second.  The Titans weren’t the only one to have trouble in this respect.  An offensive pass interference by Logan Paulsen eliminated a first down.  A defensive holding from Bryce Callahan kept the Titans alive on the drive that resulted in the their second touchdown, as well.
  4. I was disappointed at the number of drops in this game.  For instance, Jordan Howard dropped a touchdown in the first quarter.  Cameron Meredith had one that stuck out at the beginning of the second quarter that should have been a first down and another in the fourth quarter as the offense worked to make a game of it.  Josh Bellamy dropped a first down near the end of the half and two more in the fourth quarter.  Marquess Wilson dropped a very good long pass in the fourth quarter that would have set the Bears up for a potential touchdown and would have really lifted some spirits at that point.  He then dropped another perfectly thrown ball in the end zone.  And, of course, Bellamy dropped a potential game winning touchdown.  These guys really let Matt Barkley down.
  5. Matt Barkley threw a bad interception behind Ben Braunecker where Wesley Woodyard picked it off deep in Titan territory that took at least three points off the board.  He threw another crushing interception in the end zone while under pressure.  That wasted a good effort coming out after halftime after the team recovered an onside kick.
  6. This was a particularly disappointing game for me because the Bears were not only outclassed talent-wise but because they literally seemed to make every mistake that you can make.  Average Titans receivers ran by defensive backs like they were traffic cones.  Too many penalties, drops, crushing turnovers, bad tackling and even a bad shotgun snap.  You name it, they did it.  I guess the good news is that there’s a lot to work on.  Any consistent improvement will be very easy to see at this point.

 

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Giants 11-20-16

Offense

  1. The Bears came out running the ball on three of the first four plays.   In total, they ran the ball 17 times in the first half compared to 14 pass plays. The Bears made some yardage throwing to Jeremy Langford out of the backfield.   Then Jordan Howard went out with something in his eye and Cutler started throwing it to him in the backfield.  Langford is a pretty decent receiver after working all offseason on it and it was effective.  Indeed, Cutler used him on a blitz to get rid of the ball quickly on the very first series.
  2. Interestingly, despite Langford’s success, once Howard came back they went right back to the power running game, rarely throwing to Howard.  Nevertheless, Langford’s success makes you wonder if maybe they should be using him more as a change of pace.  Indeed, they did use him more in the second quarter and he scored the second Bears touchdown.
  3. The constant use of Howard, even when the running game wasn’t working, opened up the play action pass nicely and helped Cutler and his protection a great deal.
  4. Some credit has to go to the offensive line that came out and controlled the Giants offensive front in the first half.  The success of the entire offense, both the run game which served to set up everything, and the passing game where they gave Cutler pretty good protection, depended critically on them and early in the game they came through.
  5. Cutler made a beautiful throw to Zack Miller, who appeared to me to be well covered by a linebacker.  It was a nice play.  Indeed, Cutler had obviously decided that Miller was going to be his major target in the absence of Jeffery. Miller continued to make plays through out the first half until he had an apparent injury near the end of the period.
  6. While we’re at it, kudos to Cutler.  Coming off of his worst game of the year, he was dropping back in the first half and getting rid of the ball quickly, something he has to do to find success.  Its when Cutler drops back and holds the ball in an effort to make a big play (as he did in the second half) that he gets himself in trouble.  Like most quarterbacks, he’s at his best when he spreads the ball around, reads the defense at the line of scrimmage and gets rid of the ball quickly.
  7. It’s a shame that the Bears good offensive performance didn’t last into the second half when the Giants took over the line of scrimmage.  Cutler was under a great dal of pressure and it was evident that the loss of Josh Sitton may have broken the back of a pretty banged up offensive line.  Mike Adams and Charles Leno took turns giving up pressure.  Adams in particular looked totally overmatched against Jason Pierre-Paul.   And Cutler’s old problem identifying and avoiding back side pressure also started to rear its ugly head.  In fairness to Cutler, he did try to get rid of the ball quickly but the Giants were covering his receivers like a blanket and it was very difficult to find an uncontested throw.

Defense

  1. Giants came out on the first drive mixing it up and executing well.  One thing that you notice immediately is how under-rated Eli Manning’s movement in the pocket is as he avoids the rush with “phone booth quicks”.  Manning really is an under-rated quarterback.
  2. The Bears defense played pretty well in the first half.  They were fast to the ball and aggressive in the way that they need to be.  Generally speaking they tackled well, though when they did miss, especially on the outside as Cre’Von LeBlanc did on 4th and 2 in the second quarter, the Giants burned them.
  3. The LeBlanc play was the second 4th down conversion that they Bears yielded to extend a drive in the first half.  The first was far more damaging as it set the Giants up for their first touchdown.  The Bears need to do a better job of stiffening in those situations.
  4. The Bears didn’t generate much pass rush, that was as much a function of the play of the Giants offensive line as anything else.  Frankly, I’ve never seen a line hold so much and get away with it.  In any case, that lack of pressure burned them in the second half when Manning got things going.
  5. Despite that, I thought Leonard Floyd had a pretty good first half of football.  He was around Manning applying pressure for a good part of the time.  It was a shame to see him carted off on a back board and we can all hope, not just for his own future but for the future of the Bears, that he isn’t seriously injured.
  6. And Manning did eventually get things going.  The Giants snapped out of their funk after half time.  Taking advantage of all of the attention that the Bears were forced to give to Odell Beckham, Manning really started to spread the ball around and find the open man nicely.

 

Miscellaneous

  1. Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, and Pam Oliver did the announcing.  I’ve never been a big John Lynch fan but kudos to him for at least trying to teach me something as a fan on occasion.  We could have done far worse.
  2. Connor Barth missed the extra point on the first TD.  I’m sure that makes Robbie Gould feel better.  Temporarily.  Gould missed his first extra-point attempt as well, probably making Ryan Pace feel better in his turn in the process.  Overall, it wasn’t a good day for the kickers as Gould missed another extra point and Barth hit the post on a 54 yard field goal.  Deonte Thompson had a pretty good 40 yard return in the first half.  Pat O’Donnell had a good day punting.
  3. Adrian Amos did not do much to alleviate my concerns about his ability to make plays when he flat out dropped an interception that was right in his hands.  Such plays are often the difference between winning and losing.  Marquis Wilson dropped a big third down pass in the third quarter with the momentum having turned against the Bears.  Jordan Howard dropped a huge third down pass with 3:30 left in the game and the Bears down six points.
  4. Olivier Vernon roughing the passer in the first quarter – totally unnecessary.  The Bears stayed out of trouble with penalties (only 4 for 35 yards) but it was ruined by an awful holding penalty on Mike Adams on third and ten near the end of the first half took the Bears out of field goal range.  Ted Larsen had a big holding penalty with 2:39 left with the Bears driving to try to score at the end of the game.  Indeed, both teams played a relatively clean game.  The Giants only had 4 for 35 yards, themselves.
  5. Neither team turned the ball over until the final minute when Cutler threw an interception trying to make a play.  Cutler also gave up a sack and a forced fumble (which the Bears got back) at a critical time with 1:30 left in the game.
  6. Tony Romo repeated a common football mantra this week when he said that if you control the one inside of you, the one across from you really doesn’t matter.  In one respect, the Bears did that today in a season where wins and losses really don’t matter as much as showing progress as the season wears on.  Five penalties for 40 yards and no turnovers until the end of the game is a vast improvement over where they’ve been at for most of the year when they have continually shot themselves in the foot over and over.  The team isn’t good enough to overcome those kinds of mistakes and that was very evident today as they got totally out classed in the second half.

    They were beaten this game by a better team that also managed to play a clean game rather than handing them a win.  But I assure you that if they continue to play like that, this won’t be true every week.