Quick Game Comments: Bears at Colts

Offense

  1. The Bears came out running no huddle.  The Colts came out playing 6 in the box and daring the Bears to run, something which they generally struggled to do, especially in the first half.
  2. The problem is that the Bears simply could not win the line of scrimmage for a lot of this game.  The Colts dominated it in the first half and therefore were able to stop the run.  The Bears had 7.8 yards per carry at that point but take away the Jordan Howard 58 yard run and it was less than 3.  They finished with 6.6 ypc, again that’s 3.5 without the big run.
  3. Cameron Meredith (9 catches for 130 yards) really emerged this game.  He’s a big guy who was very capable of taking advantage of some terrible coverage that wasn’t by Vontae Davis.  He might be a target that will help a great deal in making up for the loss of Kevin White long-term.
  4. Alshon Jeffery  (5 catches for 77 yards) wasn’t much of a factor but the minute they got a matchup with Patrick Robinson instead of Davis, they went right to him for good yardage late in the third quarter.
  5. What was really surprising about this game is that I’m convinced that the Colts defense got worn down in the fourth quarter.  That’s quite a change for a team who is usually watching its own defense get worn to a nub.  It was very interesting because the difference in time of possession really wasn’t that great.  It was 28:20 – 24:36 Bears at the time of their go ahead touchdown with 7:00 left in the game.  I don’t know what that says about the Colt defense but it’s not good.
  6. Also not good if you are a Colts fan is the number of missed tackles all over the field this game.  They’ll be wanting to clean that up.  Along with a lot of their things.  Lots of things contributed as the Bears had over 500 yards of offense on the day.
  7. The Bears failure in the red zone despite all of that yardage was another deciding factor in this game.  They need to get better there.
  8. Brian Hoyer was not sacked.  Many are noting the improvement in the protection that Hoyer is getting over Jay Cutler.  The improvement was notable against the Cowboys in Week 3 and was very evident last week against the Lions.  However, its worth noting that Brian Hoyer also deserves a great deal of credit for this.  He gets the ball out fast, throwing with anticipation to receivers, making it very hard for pass rushers to get to him.  So credit the change in quarterback for this as well.
  9. Hoyer (33 of 43 for 397 yards) didn’t have a bad day but there were times when I thought his accuracy wasn’t there.  Receivers like Eddie Royal were going to the ground to get balls when they really shouldn’t have had to.
  10. Zack Miller (7 catches for 73 yards) has come alive with Hoyer’s ability to spread the ball around the field to different receivers.  Cutler seemed to have a hard time finding Miller when he was playing the first two games, targeting him just 7 times.  Hoyer targeted Miller 11 times in his first two games.  Miller had another good game today.
  11. I really thought Jordan Howard (16 carries, 118 yards) also had a good game as he made the most out of his runs as far as I could tell. He continues to show what he can do to give Bears fans some hope for the future.  Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune a good note about Howard in his comments after the Lions game last week.  Rookie running backs, who are neither used to the NFL grind nor the frequency of the games, have a habit of wearing down after they take a pounding over a few games. So far so good for Howard.

Defense

  1. Indianapolis also came out running no huddle.    The Bears were also daring the Colts to run, often staying light in the box and dropping 7 or 8 into coverage.  The Colts ran the ball with great success in the first half, averaging 7 yards per carry.  The Bears did a better job in the second half as that average dropped to 4.7.
  2. The reason was that the Bears were getting dominated at the line of scrimmage.  Not only were the Colts running all over the Bears but Andrew Luck, who had been under siege the first quarter of the season, was getting plenty of time in the first half.  In fairness, the Bears defense again did better getting pressure on him in the second half in part because they started rushing more than four on occasion.  Willie Young in particular was pretty effective again with three sacks.
  3. Luck is unbelievable.  Some of the throws that he makes are amazingly accurate.
  4. Allowing Luck to have forever to throw exposed the Bears secondary which was getting beat all over the field.  I understand that T.Y. Hilton is good.  But knowing that, how can you let him get that open, even in what was mostly zone coverage?  It was very frustrating to watch him make catch after catch.
  5. Also frustrating was watching Luck extend plays time after time.  He’s very mobile inside and outside the picket and that, combined with his size makes him very tough to bring down.
  6. One thing the Bears did do a good job of was keeping the Colts out of the end zone.  They managed to force Adam Vinetieri to kick field goals for most of the afternoon and that’s really what kept the Bears in the game.
  7. Jerrell Freeman had a reasonably good game with 7 tackles (5 solo) which has to be nice for him.

    How important was this game to the former Colt?  Well, according to him, no hard feelings for allowing the Bears to outbid them in free agency.

    “It’s a business; can’t take things personally”

    Of course, then this feature came out on Freeman in the Chicago Tribune on Saturday where he said this:

    “Every team I play, it’s ‘You could have had me.’ There are a lot of things I think of right before the game when I turn into something else that people don’t see.”

    So, yeah, I think it was important to him.

Miscellaneous

  1. I was shocked when Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews drew this game.  As bad as the Bears have been, to see them draw one of the best announcing teams in the NFL is an insult to the league and its fans.  All did an excellent job as usual.
  2. Special teams weren’t good.  Punt and kick coverage was particularly patchy.  The Bears allowed a good 35 yard return in the second quarter and allowed another 20 yard punt return early in the second half as well.  Connor Barth missed another field goal but appeared to luck out as T.J. Green stupidly ran into him.  Then he missed it again.  Compare to Adam Vinatieri, who is amazing, it wasn’t a good look.  Again.
  3. Drops weren’t a huge part of this game for the Bears but the Colts had a few big ones as usual.
  4. Penalties, on the other hand, were a huge factor.  Drive after Bear drive was killed by penalties as they committed 6 for 55 yards in the first half alone and finished with 10 for 80 yards.  Jordan Howard had  a very damaging facemask penalty on the Bears first drive that probably cost them 4 points as they settled for a field goal rather than scoring a touchdown.  A holding penalty on Long killed a first down early in the second quarter.  The Bears settled for a field goal.  Logan Paulsen also got caught holding and that killed a Bears touchdown. An illegal contact penalty gave the Colts a first down early in the second half.
  5. Turnovers weren’t a big factor until the end of the game as both teams did a reasonable job of protecting the football.  This was bad news for the Bears, who are under-manned and who I think are always going to need some help from the other side in winning a game.  Instead, Meredith fumbled the ball deep in Bears territory and helped the Colts to carry away a victory.
  6. The Colts’ season reached a crisis point last Sunday in London with a loss to the Jaguars that dropped them to 1-3. Afterward, players spoke openly about a need for greater professionalism and the Colts then cut Sio Moore and Antonio Cromartie.  Colts are a desperate team. Did they play like it?  Well, kind of.  There wasn’t a great deal of intensity and they still aren’t very talented but they did a very good job of limiting the mistakes that they made against the Jaguars last week.  They also protected Luck much, much better in the first half with some help by the Bears who rushed four for most of time.
  7. You understand that the Bears are a young team and that they will take time to develop.  Mistakes due to misplays we all can certainly understand.  But this game was different in that the Bears not only lost the turnover battle but, even worse, continually shot themselves in the foot over and over again with penalties.  That I don’t think fans should accept.  I expect to see better next week.

Quick Comments: Lions at Bears

Offense

  1. Brian Hoyer picked up where he left off last week going to tight end Zach Miller on the first play. That connection continued all game.
  2. Bears were apparently determined to run the ball. Jordan Howard doesn’t look like much but he certainly moves the pile and finishes the run, something we heard all offseason Jeremy Langford was trying to work on but which yielded few results.  The team averaged 4.1 ypc in the first half and they rarely lost yardage.  They finished the game with 4.5.
  3. The run game opened up the play action pass, which appeared to work well as the Lions were obviously concentrating on stopping the run.
  4. Interestingly, the Bears ran Howard an awful lot to the left side. Supposedly the right side of the line was going to be the strongest in this respect with Bobbie Massie definitely having a reputation as a better run blocker than pass blocker.  But the Bears evidently believe that running behind Josh Sitton and Charles Leno is a better option.
  5. To my surprise, Darius Slay was not following Jeffery around. The Bears obviously consider Jeffery a mismatch on the other cornerbacks (and maybe on Slay as well).  So they started the game concentrating on getting the ball to him a little more than they have.
  6. The Lions were stunting a lot up front in an effort to get pressure on Hoyer. The offensive line generally did a very good job of exchanging men and handling it.  They generally picked up the blitz reasonably well, too.  They seem to be shaping up nicely as a unit.
  7. Cody Whitehair looks very solid up front now. He’s obviously settling in and showing his potential.   He’s got some power.
  8. Eddie Royal was on fire again. He seems to have a gift for popping open from the slot, which is absolutely his best position.  The Bears should never, ever put him outside again.
  9. Brian Hoyer was doing a good job of spreading the ball around. He’s also accurate and that quick release is something else.  He fits the ball very well into tight spaces.  Hoyer does two things that we never see from Jay Cutler.  He throws with anticipation and he often manages to get rid of the ball when the defense sends an unblocked man on the delayed blitz.  He was still sacked by Darius Slay on such a blitz in the first quarter, though.  So that problem isn’t completely solved.
  10. Somewhat surprised to see Joique Bell get significant snaps in this game only a week after he was signed. He got up to speed fast.
  11. There were a lot of positives about how the Bears moved the ball this game. But the bottom line is that they couldn’t turn it into points. That’s disappointing and they still have work to do finding ways to finish. 

Defense

  1. The Bears had a similar defensive game plan to the Lions. They sank back in coverage and tried to keep anyone from getting the ball deep.  The idea was evidently to let the other team make mistakes and stop themselves.  I’d say it worked for the most part for both teams.
  2. The Bears got sporadic pressure on Matthew Stafford in part because they were only rushing 3 or 4 for most of the game. Stafford did not have a good start to this game.  The Bears managed some good zone coverage, sometimes dropping as many as eight into coverage, and Stafford appeared to be a bit unhinged.
  3. The Lions spent a good deal of the game shooting themselves in the foot with mistakes and penalties. It looked to me like they were simply struggling to execute.
  4. The Bears did a pretty good job of stopping the run in the first half allowing only 2.7 ypc. The final stat was 3.7.
  5. Nick Kwiatkoski isn’t the most athletic linebacker and we aren’t going to see him roaming sideline to sideline like Brain Urlacher. He made his share of mistakes but he seems stout against the run.
  6. Despite Kwiatkoski’s play, the Bears did once again miss Danny Trevathan. The Lions took advantage of the Bears linebackers in coverage for a lot of yardage today.
  7. I thought Will Sutton held up better against the run this week. That’s encouraging with Eddie Goldman out.
  8. One thing that I’d like to see the Bears do more of is disguise their coverages. Whether it was man or zone – which they played an awful lot of today – there was never much doubt about what they were trying to do.
  9. Kudos to the Bears for stiffening and making a stand in the third quarter with the Lions having 1st and goal inside the 5 yard line. They forced a field goal, keeping the score 7-6 at the time.
  10. I think Stafford is channeling his inner Jay Cutler. His body language today every time something went wrong was deplorable.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin. Always glad to have Johnston doing a Bear game.  He often points out things that the fans can’t see and I usually learn something from him.
  2. Allowing a punt return for a touchdown with 2 minutes left in a two score game is a terrible travesty. Just awful.  Deonte Thompson with a nice return to start the game.  Eddie Royal had a good put return in the first quarter as well.  Too bad it was called back after a block n the back penalty.  The boos rained down on Connor Barth as he missed a 50 yard field goal from the left hash.  Admittedly its not a chip shot but Ryan Pace and John Fox didn’t win any friends dropping Robbie Gould for him.
  3. Logan Paulsen dropped what was admittedly a tough catch in the first quarter.
  4. Both teams had more than their share of penalties in what was a sloppy game where is seemed that each team was shooting itself in the foot every time you turned around. Deonte Thompson with a stupid holding penalty early in the second quarter.  That killed the drive.
  5. The interception right before halftime by Jacoby Glenn was huge in that it saved at least three points for the Bears. It was evidently a miscommunication between Stafford and Golden Tate, who Stafford apparently though was going to cut his route short.  Glenn was facing Stafford and saw the whole thing develop very well and got a good jump on the ball.  At least as important was the second Stafford interception, this time in the fourth quarter with the Lions moving the ball well and threatening to cut the Bears lead to one score.  Deandre’ Hall was the one in the right place at the right time this time.  Hoyer, on the other hand, did a good job of protecting the ball.
  6. I’m seeing more of Peyton Manning now than I ever did when he was playing. We seemingly can’t have a single commercial break without seeing his face.  I like the guy but I’m already getting very sick of seeing him.
  7. Oh, and the point at which I was seeing Marshawn Lynch too many times was the first time. For a guy who never talked to the media he sure does seem to be on television a lot.
  8. There were times during this game when I didn’t think either side deserved to win. With 18 penalties for 131 yards, the game was terribly sloppy and both teams seemed to take turns killing themselves with mistakes.  If you are the Bears, you take a win any way you can get it.  But the message I took away was that both of these teams have a long way to go before they are going to truly compete for the division.

Quick Game Comments: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys

Defense

  1. Cowboys came out in 11 personnel and that seemed to be their base most of the time.  They often stacked almost everyone inside at the line of scrimmage.  The Bears played 8 in the box to defend it but got hurt for big chunks of yardage in the passing game, especially on play action.
  2. Adrian Amos had a heck of a (clean) shot on Cole Beasley in the first quarter.  Harold Jones-Quartey also hit some people pretty hard.  Bears fans had to like the look of that.  The defense needs more of it.
  3. I’d like to say that the Bears once again had trouble getting off the field on 3rd and 4th down.  But the truth of the matter is that there were a lot of drives where they simply never got to third down.  That’s how badly they were getting beaten.
  4. I don’t think the Bears are going to get far putting guys like Leonard Floyd in single coverage on Jason Witten.  I’m like most people in that I don’t know what the answer to Witten is but that ain’t it.
  5. Ezekiel Elliot looks like the rookie of the year to me.  He’s eventually going to rack up a lot of yardage behind that offensive line.
  6. The Bears front seven really got dominated in the running game.  There was no penetration by anyone to stop Elliott and the linebackers were really getting sucked up in the play action passing game.  The Cowboys ran for 5.6 yards per carry in the first half when the game still mattered.
  7. I think the Bears missed nose tackle Eddie Goldman a great deal.  Will Sutton got pushed about quite a bit in his place.
  8. Anyone else getting tired of cornerbacks like Jacoby Glenn trailing wide receivers by two yards after getting beaten off the line of scrimmage?  Me, too.
  9. The Cowboys really picked on those younger cornerbacks.  They hardly threw at Tracy Porter, though he did give up a touchdown to Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter.
  10. Leonard Floyd continues to look active out there but he’s not having much of an impact.
  11. First Cowboy punt of the game?  It came with 5:00 left in the third quarter.

Offense

  1. The Bears also came out in 11 personnel.  The Cowboys played 6 in the box.  So they obviously didn’t respect the Bears running game much.  For the most part they were right not to.
  2. Brian Hoyer certainly does have a quick release.  But if he was throwing with anticipation, I didn’t see it.  His accuracy was OK.  He overthrew Cameron Meredith on a potential big play late in the game.
  3. I don’t know if Jordan Howard is just that much better or what but things seem to happen when he comes into the game.
  4. Also note that the Bears are rotating running backs within a series now instead of giving the running backs all of the downs in one possession, as they did last year.  Interesting that Dowell Loggains chose to change this.
  5. I swear it’s like the Cowboys knew the Bears plays at times.  Defensive players literally ran to where offensive players were going and beat them to the spot.  Is Loggains’ offense that predictable?  It appears to be so.
  6. Hoyer appeared to finally find Zach Miller late in the first half after the Cowboys defense loosened up the coverage with a big lead.  The needs to happen more.
  7. Cody Whitehair looked fine.  Kevin White looks like he might be getting better to my eye.  I liked that Hoyer kept going to him late in the game.
  8. The Cowboys did a pretty good job of limiting Eddie Royal after two good games to start the season.
  9. I thought the offensive line did a decent job of giving Hoyer time against a reputedly weak Cowboys defensive line.
  10. The time of possession at halftime:  Cowboys – 21:47, Bears – 8:13.  First downs:  Cowboys 19, Bears 4.  And I’m honestly surprised the Bears had that many.

Miscellaneous

  1. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya were your announcers.  Collinsworth is usually the best color man in the game but this game was so bad it even made him ordinary.
  2. Had to like the fact that John Fox apparently learned his lesson last game.  After not challenging a crucial spot then, he challenged one in the first quarter of this game and won it.  He did the same thing late in the game and won again.  Generally speaking I didn’t think that penalties hurt the Bears that badly as such things go.  A hands to the face penalty by Charles Leno spoiled a great catch and run by Kevin White in the first quarter.  It also stopped the first Bears possession cold.  Willie Young got called for a roughing the passer in the fourth quarter but there was no call on Jason Witten who literally pulled his helmet off and had it left in his hand as Young got by him.
  3. Special teams were fine.  Dan Bailey missed a kick for the Cowboys in the third quarter that kept the Bears within two touchdowns of the lead.  The Bears went with  a surprise onside kick in the second quarter.  It didn’t work.  The Bears were offside and had to re-kick.  It was typical of the night in general.
  4. The Bears didn’t drop the ball that much and the Cowboys didn’t drop it at all.  Jeremy Langford had a big drop on the first quarter on third down.  That killed a possession.  It hard to say if the events were connected but we started seeing a lot of Jordan Howard shortly after that.  White had a drop of a nearly perfect deep pass in the fourth quarter.
  5. There weren’t many turnovers in this game either way.  Glenn had a nice strip at the beginning of the second half that resulted in a turnover.  Cameron Meredith gave up a fumble in Bears territory late in the third quarter.  Brian Hoyer turned the ball over trying to make a play late.  That effectively ended the game.
  6. For those of you who were forced to watch this travesty, the Bears are also on in prime time for two consecutive weeks next month.  Enjoy.

Quick Game Comments: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears

Offense

  • The Bears came out in 11 personnel.  The Eagles played them a straight up 4-3 with 7 in the box.
  • It didn’t take long for the Bears to give up a sack.  Logan Paulsen was left one-on-one with Malcom Jenkins on a blitz and Jenkins ran by him like a traffic cone.  Paulson didn’t even see him until he was five steps into the backfield.  The Bears had their share of trouble protecting Cutler even before this game got out of hand.  He saw a lot of pressure in his face and, at least early, unlike last week, it wasn’t usually because he was holding the ball too long.  The line struggled.
  • They also struggled to run the ball.  Eagles players were shedding blocks to get to Jeremy Langford before he could gain much yardage.  People will say that Langford needs to start gaining some yards on his own and he should.  But he generally didn’t have much chance tonight.
  • Bears have reportedly been working on screen pass.  My advice is that they work hard on it.  [head shake] Man.
  • Interesting to see a Paul Lasike sighting.  Logan Paulsen’s poor night at tight end may have had something to do with that.  If Lasike can do more than block the full back brings an interesting aspect to the offense.
  • I think the Bears may have simplified things for Kevin White this week.  He seems to have been playing faster and maybe thinking less.  Giving him the ball on a sweep around end was also a good way to use his athleticism without making things too complicated.
  • Eddie Royal is performing the way I think we all thought he would last year.  He seems healthy and when that’s the case, he’s the second best receiver on the team by far.
  • I’d like to say that Brian Hoyer actually put played Cutler in the fourth quarter after Cutler left the game.  But the Eagles had a big lead and he was working against soft coverage.  So I think we’ll all have to with hold judgment.

Defense

  • The Bears came out playing man coverage but they were playing extremely soft in coverage.  Quarterback Carson Wentz took advantage, throwing underneath of pretty good yardage. It seems evident that they wanted to take advantage of the Bears defensive backs.  They threw the ball only once in their first 7 plays by my count and ran only twice on their first drive.
  • It certainly looks dot me like the Eagles doubt about the ability of the Bears defensive backs to stay with their receiver was well founded.  Jacoby Glenn and Bryce Callahan both struggled to stay with receivers deep and were frequently beaten even on passes that weren’t complete.
  • The ball was coming out quick and pass rushers had very little chance to get to Wentz.  Nevertheless even when given the opportunity they struggled to get pressure on Wentz unless they were blitzing, especially in the first half.  Interestingly they threw some line stunts at the Eagles and these seemed to have some positive effect.
  • To Wentz’s credit, he seems to handle the blitz better than the veteran Jay Cutler, who has struggled to spot late blitzers all preseason and into the season.
  • Wentz looks like everything he’s cracked up to be.  He has good arm strength and reasonable accuracy.  But what sticks out to me is how smart he plays for a rookie.  Only four rookie quarterbacks since 1970 have won their first two starts to begin a season. Three of those four players helped their teams qualify for the playoffs, including Joe Flacco of Baltimore (2008) and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (2009), who led their respective clubs to the AFC Championship Game as rookies.  Philly fans must be walking on sunshine right now.
  • One problem I have with Wentz – he cries to the referees more than even Tom Brady does.  Give us all a break, young man.
  • Give the Bears defense credit.  They struggled to stop the pass but they did a decent job against the run allowing only 3.1 yards per carry.
  • Really like how fast those Bears inside linebackers play, especially Jerrell Freeman.  After a miserable year last year its nice to see some good linebacker play in Chicago again.  Generally speaking the defense does play hard.
  • The Eagles were 3 for 3 on fourth down.  You’d like to see the bears stiffen a little more on those plays.

Miscellaneous

  • Connor Barth missed a 31 yard field goal late in the first quarter.  This really hurt a young team who needed some points early after a decent drive.  John Fox and Ryan Pace staked a lot on their personal knowledge of Barth when releasing Robbie Gould despite a spotty history.  Kicks like that aren’t going to make people in Chicago anymore inclined to trust their words over his actions, past and present.  That Eddie Royal punt return for a touchdown may have been the best return I’ve ever seen from a Bear.  The little leap at the beginning to avoid the initial tackler was nifty.  It was a pleasure to watch.  On the other side, the Eagles can’t be happy  to allow such a return with a big lead.  Big plays like that are the one single thing you don’t want to allow to happen in that situation.
  • The Bears had 7 penalties for 60 yards.  that’s just too much.  They need to clean that up.
  • The Bears lost the turnover battle with three to the Eagles zero.
    • The first Jay Cutler fumble was inexcusable.  That kind of poor ball security by a veteran quarterback on the run is deplorable.  The lineman didn’t really even have to knock the ball out of his arms.
    • The interception in the third quarter deep in Bear territory was almost as bad and was far more costly.  The game was still winnable at this point.  But this was a back breaker.  Of course, if that didn’t put things out of hand, the Langford fumble in the fourth quarter did.
  • It’s mighty tough to win a football game when you are giving the ball away like the Bears did Monday night.  It also a lot tougher for a young team to lose, not because of rookie mistakes, but because the veterans let them down.  Watching Jay Cutler start the season like this, particularly the way he turned the ball over in this game, its hard not to wonder if the Bears haven’t been irreparably damaged by the loss of former offensive coordinator Adam Gase.  In any case, that ship has sailed.  There was some good play by some of the Bears tonight.  Enough to give me some hope.  But it’s apparent that the Bears have a lot to clean up before they can put it all together to win some football games.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Texans 9/11/16

Offense

  1. Bears came out in three wide and tried to mix it up.  They had 20 runs Vs. 20 passes with six minutes left in the game they started playing from behind.  The Texans played it mostly straight up with seven in the box and did a decent job of holding them, particularly in the second half when they prevented the Bears from putting anything together at all.
  2. What a first half for Alshon Jeffery.  Four catches for 105 yards in the first half alone.  Unfortunately the Texans quickly figured out that he was the offense and stymied him in the second half.  Nevertheless, this could be the first step in a great, contract season.
  3. Jay Cutler (16/29 216 yds) also had  some really nice throws but my heavens, he holds the ball a long time.  I know he’s trying to make plays but when the Texans are bringing the house you can’t stand back there forever and not expect to get killed.  The receivers were probably having a tough time getting open but it doesn’t help that he’s also not throwing with anticipation like he did last year.  In fairness, he threw some bullets in some big spots just as he always does.  But he’s regressed since Adam Gase left, perhaps yet another sign that he’s losing confidence in the team and the coaching (*cough* Dowell Loggains *cough*).
  4. The Texans didn’t blitz or stunt much but it still worries me that when they did, it worked pretty well.  This is a carryover from the preseason where they also struggled with these things.  Cutler definitely saw some pressure, especially in the second half and specially late in the second half when the whole stadium knew they had to pass. As noted, it was a lot worse when Cutler held the ball trying to make a play.
  5. Jadaveon Clowney had a good game today.  The Bears left their offensive linemen without much help pass blocking for much of the game and both Clowney and Whitney Mercilus got good pressure.  Credit the Bears offensive line for doing a good job on J.J. Watt, though.
  6. I also thought the line did a decent job of run blocking at times.  Unlike in the passing game, it looked like the Bears were helping out Bobbie Massie by giving him help from tight end Logan Paulsen.   The Bears ran mostly to the right.
  7. Cody Whitehair’s inexperience showed on a snap where he didn’t get the ball up to Cutler on a quarterback sneak.  Cutler never had a chance to get the first down fourth and less than one.  This was a case where rookie play cost them.  You have to wonder if they wouldn’t have been better giving Whitehair a game or two to get adapted to the position as suggested here.
  8. But what stuck out the most to me about the running game was the way that running backs Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey did a good job of finding daylight and running to it.  Both showed some good vision today.
  9. Kevin White was up and down.  He apparently went the wrong way on a Cutler interception.  He also had a false start, something that should never happen to a wide receiver.

Defense

  1. From the first snap this was a contest between the Houston running game and the Bears trying to stop it with seven in the box.  Overall the defense didn’t play badly but generally speaking I thought the Texans got the best of them on the ground as they dominated the line of scrimmage.  In fairness, to my eye they did better stopping the run in the second half.
  2. The Texans did all that blocking with a shaky offensive line, making the Bears performance a bit more disappointing.  Right tackle Derek Newton has been fighting a hamstring problem and Left tackle Dwayne Brown has a torn quad and was replaced by Chris Clark.  Center Greg Mancz is a back up as well.   It helps that Lamarr Miller was running well.
  3. Mitch Unrein was sliding inside on passing downs.  Leonard Floyd was also seeing time in the defensive rotation along with Cornelius Washington.  Floyd held his own but didn’t get much pressure.
  4. Generally speaking I thought the defensive backs did a surprisingly good job.  They played the Texans mano-a-mano in man coverage most of the game.  Tracy Porter did about as well as you can do on an island with Deandre Hopkins.  Notably Adrian Amos was around the ball a lot.  That’s a change from last year where Amos rarely shows dup on camera when the ball was sin the air.
  5. Brock Osweiler was up and down (22/35 231yds).  He looks accurate enough but his decision making was questionable at times.  He also stares down receivers.
  6. There wasn’t much pressure on Osweiler in the first half but I thought the Bears did better after half time.
  7. One other thing that stuck out about the Texans.  They seem to be pretty decent at getting themselves into third and manageable.  That puts plenty of pressure on a defense.

Miscellaneous

  1. I thought Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis and Peter Schrager were adequate.  Davis didn’t add much insight to the broadcast but Brennaman is one of the best in the business.
  2. Both teams had more penalties than I’m sure they’d like with some sloppy first game play (Bears: 4 for 30 yards, Texans: 6 for 69 yards).  More than the usual number of calls were questionable but it wasn’t the cleanest game on either side.  The Texan’s offensive line was jumpy early with a false start by Derek Newton and a holding penalty by Chris Clark on the same series.  Hopkins had a very damaging pass interference call in the end zone that basically resulted in the Texans settling for a field goal in the first half. Zach Miller had a pass interference call that cost the Bears about 25 yards on a nice screen pass near the ned of the first half.  Fortunately they overcame it to score anyway.
  3. Drops weren’t a huge part of this game but I note that Houston’s Will Fuller had a terrible one that probably cost the Texans a touchdown near the end of the first half.  That was his MO coming out of college.  Alshon Jeffery had a big drop that killed a drive late in the third quarter.  DeAndre Hopkins dropped a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
  4. I thought special teams were OK on both sides.  The Bears are going to have to do a better job of blocking on punts and kickoffs.  Eddie Royal had a good return in the first half.  He won’t be the speediest guy but he’ll do, I’m betting.  Notably both teams ran a lot of balls out of the end zone despite a rule change bringing touchbacks out to the 25 yard line.
  5. Turnovers were, of course, huge.  The Bears took advantage of a Tracy Porter interception to get a touchdown in the first quarter.  Kevin White showed his inexperience as he apparently went the wrong way on a route resulting in an interception.
  6. As expected, the Bears offense hung the defense out to dry as the Texans dominated time of possession (23:41 Vs. 36:09).  The number of drives was identical (12 a piece not counting the final kneel down) and so were the yards per play (4.8 Vs. 4.9).  The difference?  The Bears flat out couldn’t execute and put together a drive, especially in the second half once the Texans took Jeffery away.
  7. I’d say this was a game where the Bears youth and inexperience showed on some big plays.  Cody Whitehair held his own generally but the bad snap on the quarterback sneak in the first half cost the Bears.  Kevin White cost them an interception on a poorly run route.  These may be things that we’re going to have to live with for a while.Other than that, things were pretty much went as expected.  I had hoped that the defense might have been a little better but that was nothing compared to the poor performance by an offense that couldn’t seem to put it together in the preseason and now can’t seem to put it together in the regular season.

Quick Comments: Preseason Game, Broncos at Bears

I probably won’t do this for every preseason game but I’m so glad to have football back that I couldn’t help myself.  So here’s an abbreviated version of the game comments for this exhibition.

Defense

  1. Bryce Callahan totally blew the coverage on the first touchdown, settling down short as if he thought there would be someone over the top to pick him up.  Reports are that his job is far from secure.
  2. On the other hand, good awareness by Callahan when he came off of his guy to tip the pass that Jerrell Freeman intercepted in the first quarter.
  3. Freeman looked like he was struggling to cover the Broncos as they came over the middle.  That’s not his reputation.
  4. The Bears starters on defense were getting pressure but, as feared, the pass coverage was letting them down.  The pass rushers are either going to have to be a step quicker or the coverage is going to have to be better.  The pass rushers are also going to have to do a better job of finishing when they do get there.
  5. Mark Sanchez looked rather sharp as he guided the Broncos to their first interception.  Mostly accurate to the open guy.
  6. To my eye Trevor Simian wasn’t as sharp its the second team though he did make a nice play to escape pressure and complete a pass to get the Broncos in field goal range at the end of the second half.
  7. Paxton Lynch wasn’t asked to do a lot bu the looked like he belonged.  That’s probably good enough at this point.
  8. You kind of see why the Bears like Leonard Floyd.  He certainly is quick and he’s got long arms.  High effort guy.  But damn he’s skinny.
  9. It was entertaining to see Deondre Hall go into press coverage alone on throws to the end zone and defend the ball in the second quarter.  The Bears are obviously trying to get a feel for what he can do.
  10. Lots of missed tackles in the second quarter after the back ups got in  Lots to clean up.
  11. Cornelius Washington showed up tonight.  He needed to.  He’s in a tough fight to make the roster.  It was a shame to see him leave on a cart.

Offense

  1. Jay Cutler actually had some room on the first sack.  It looked like he panicked a bit in the face of the blitz.  It’s likely he doesn’t trust the reshuffled offensive line to handle that, yet, with some justification.  Here’s hoping that sense of trust gets better.
  2. Bears starters ran the ball for a paltry 1.8 yards per carry.  That’s not doing anything to alleviate any anxiety amongst fans about either the offensive line or Jeremy Langford, who got all of the carries.
  3. Cody Whitehair might need a little work snapping in the shot gun.
  4. The back up offensive line was simply putrid.  Martin Wallace flat out stunk.  So did Keith Browner and Gary Williams.  Nothing happened tonight to alleviate my concerns about the depth on this unit.  Their ineptitude made it virtually impossible to evaluate the players at any other position.
  5. We got to see two backs in the backfield for the first time in the second half when Jordan Howard entered the game.  We didn’t see much of it but it will be interesting to see how much more of that we get once the games count for real.
  6. I’m not used to seeing teams blitz the safety in the first preseason game but I’m a bit disappointed that it continued to work.  The offense didn’t look like they were ready for it and they didn’t adjust.  Preseason or not, that’s not good.

Miscellaneous

  1. Sam Rosen, Jim Miller & Luo Canellis on the call.  They were OK for what they are.  Miller was soft in his criticism but I’ve certainly heard worse during the preseason and they don’t give you the job of announcing these exhibition games to be overly critical.
  2. I thought the starters were relatively clean but once the back ups got in, the penalty flags started to fly.  First pre-season game.  No need to worry yet.
  3. Special teams were up and down, both allowing a blocked punt and blocking one themselves.
  4. In summary:  lots to work on, folks.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Buccaneers 12/27/15

Bucs_BearsOffense

  1. Tampa Bay played a familiar Lovie Smith-style bend but don’t break defense but the blitzed more than is usual, presumably to put pressure on the somewhat weak Bears offensive line. It was reasonably effective.
  2. The Bears responded by trying to be patient and limit mistakes in a ball control, run first offensive game plan.
  3. The Bears game took a while to get going, as usual. The Bears have scored only 41 points in the 1st quarter this year.
  4. The offense got going better after the first quarter. The Bucs helped them along to their first touchdown with a timely facemask penalty followed by a pass interference. They also executed better and played cleaner.
  5. The Bears were double teaming Gerald McCoy whenever they could with Vlad Ducasse and Kyle Long. This was particularly evident in short yardage where they ran right over the spot where they double team was. It seems that the Bucs may have been blitzing so often in an effort to prevent this double team by occupying both Ducasse and Long. This led directly to a sack given up by Ducasse isolated on McCoy in the second quarter in the red zone.
  6. The Bears offensive line had a very hard time protecting Cutler against that blitz. Tampa Bay only had one sack but Cutler was constantly under pressure.
  7. The Bears also had some success running to the right with Matt Slauson pulling to that side. This was a good plan against a Tampa Bay defensive line that always works to penetrate and get up field first.
  8. Tampa Bay did a good job on the Bears screen plays. Teams are preparing well for this now.
  9. Matt Forte (11 carries for 54 yards) ran very well today. This great vision was more evident than usual as he cut back and picked out holes. Jeremy Langford didn’t do badly (19 carries for 93 yards) but he looked like he still has some things to learn from Forte in comparison today.
  10. The Bears struggled a bit on third down (6 of 15) as the Bucs came through with some big plays. They also settled for field goals in the red zone when they needed touchdowns, again.
  11. Ka’Deem Carey scores not only a a good, hard run but actually catches a pass for the second touchdown. Who saw that coming? Probably not the Bucs.
  12. Zack Miller (7 catches for 64 yards) had a sneaky good game and led the Bears in receiving.
  13. Jay Cutler didn’t have to do that much but came through when he had to and statistically (20 of 27 for 156 yards, passer rating 100.2) he was excellent.

Defense

  1. Tampa Bay obviously is a run first team and they do it effectively with Doug Martin. The Bears countered with a lot of nickel defense but with eight in the box. This gets an extra defensive back on to the field to prevent those easy throws to running backs and tight ends that have been burning the linebackers so badly lately. That’s a good, smart adjustment that paid off.
  2. The Bears only rushed three in some obvious passing situations, probably in an effort to make Jameis Winston force a stupid throw. Winston did a reasonably good job of not doing that, trying to run out of trouble instead. He’s not dumb, that’s for sure. Having said that, he threw an interception under pressure from Christian Jones on the blitz in the third quarter in the red zone that was pretty bone-headed. So they still have to pound some of that out of him.
  3. The Bears didn’t appear to me to be blitzing much and they weren’t getting much pressure on Winston. This was a major advantage for Tampa Bay as they threw deep a number of times to burn the Bears after Winston was given forever to throw. Never was the need to acquire a pass rusher in the offseason more evident for the Bears.
  4. Harold Jones-Quartey had a good game and made a case for himself as a future Bear. He had a big hit that caused a fumble in the second quarter and stood out occasionally in coverage. His interception in the third quarter with the Bucs driving in the red zone was huge.
  5. Doug Martin (17 carries for 49 yards) had a mediocre first half. He come out after half time and ran very hard as the Bucaneers came out even more determined to run. They ran five straight times until Charles Sims caught a touchdown pass. The Bears responded by keying on the run with renewed attention and did a good job of stopping them.
  6. I’m not sure what the reason for it was but an awful lot of Buccaneers were getting open deep in the second half. Every time you looked up there was a wide receiver running free with a Bears defensive back trailing about three yards behind. That needs to stop. Fortunately Winston also has what appears to me to be a bad habit of under-throwing receivers deep. The Buccaneers would have blown this game wide open in the second half had he connected on more of those throws.
  7. The defense did a good job on third down, allowing just two conversions out of eight tries.

Miscellaneous

  1. Sam Rosen, Matt Millen, Peter Peter Schrager did a reasonably good job. Millen has a bad habit of being wrong and then having to correct himself but he also does a good job of going back to break down plays and show them exactly why they worked. He’s a surprisingly good teacher. I like him.
  2. A blocked Bears punt by Jeremiah George led to a Doug Martin touchdown. It looked like LaRoy Reynolds may have failed to block George. Robbie Gould had a good game, connecting on three field goals. His problems a few weeks ago seem to be over.
  3. Neither team committed that many penalties but some of them were very poorly timed, especially by the Buccaneers.  A false start by Kyle Long turned a third and goal from the four to a third and goal from the nine. A holding penalty by Vlad Ducasse late in the fourth quarter killed a first down. They settled for a field goal. On the Buccaneers side, a big facemask penalty brought back a William Gholston interception. A facemask followed by a pass interference penalty set up the Bears touchdown in the second quarter.
  4. Eddie Royal dropped a touchdown. Mike Evans returned the favor by dropping one in the fourth quarter.
  5. Turnovers were huge here, of course, as the Bears won that battle 3-0. The Bears got a fumble caused by a hit by Harold Jones-Quartey. It was recovered by John Timu. Timu recovered another big fumble in the third quarter at the Bucs 22 yard line. Jon Anderson appeared to make the big hit. Harold Jones-Quartey came up with a big interception in the red zone in the third quarter.
  6. You hate to see injuries, especially to guys like Hroniss Grasu and Eddie Goldman, so late in the season. Grasu eventually returned. Here’s hoping the Goldman injury is similarly minor. Jarvis Jenkins, who has had a reasonably good season, left the game early and would also be missed. The defensive line wasn’t a strength to begin with.
  7. It’s debatable but I thought the Buccaneers were the more talented team, today. But turnovers and a few key mistakes burned them badly and the Bears played cleanly enough to take advantage. That doesn’t sound exciting but its darned important. When the Bears aren’t committing penalties and shooting themselves in the foot, they can win games they shouldn’t be in. Today was a prime example of that.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Vikings 12/20/15

vikings_at_bears_2014-624x350Offense

  1. The Bears tried to run their usual ball control offensive game plan. They came out in a double tight end set and tried to establish the run. They eventually found that wasn’t working and tried spreading the field instead but it didn’t really matter.  The Vikings did a good job of getting penetration up front and did a reasonable job of limiting Matt Forte (8 caries, 47 yards) and Jeremy Langford (11 carries, 46 yards) on the ground.
  2. The Bears really got beat up front and that made the difference in the game. The Vikings simply beat both Hroniss Grasu and Kyle Long in particular like a drum. Long got beat for two sacks (one resulting in a Jay Cutler strip and turnover) and the line as a whole gave up five.
  3. The Vikings were, as usual, very effective with the occasional blitz though they really didn’t need it.
  4. Alshon Jeffery scored a touchdown but was really pretty much non-existent in this game as it was his only catch. It may not be a coincidence that it came the play after Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes left the game with an injury. Terence Newman was left to cover him on the play.
  5. Zack Miller (6 receptions for 54 yards) had another reasonably good game and Eddie Royal (5 receptions for 31 yards) came off of the injured list to make his presence felt.
  6. Jay Cutler (26 of 37 for 231 yards) missed Eddie Royal deep on what would have been a long gain and he threw one interception on what was supposed to be a screen to Matt Forte but overall he didn’t have a bad game.

Defense

  1. The Vikings also came out trying to establish the run and they were more successful with Adrian Peterson (18 carries, 63 yards) and Matt Assiata (5 carries, 28 yards). Peterson was running particularly well. Unlike the last time these teams met, the Bears felt the need to occasionally throw eight into the box to stop the Viking running game. They may have felt that Teddy Bridgewater couldn’t beat them. If so, they were obviously wrong.
  2. The Bears got beaten at the line of scrimmage by what has been a miserable Vikings offensive line. This was a pretty poor performance by the Bears front seven.
  3. The Vikings took full advantage of the miserable Bears linebacker situation with a series of short passes over the middle and to running backs out of the back field. Stefon Diggs once again burned the Bears with 3 receptions for a very damaging 55 yards. Kyle Rudolph had a couple receptions for 21 yards and wasn’t the factor I thought he’d be after the Bears were burned so badly by Jordan Reed last week. But the real damage was done by running back Jerick McKinnon, who had 4 receptions for 76 yards. The Vikings were splitting him out wide in the same way the Bears have had a habit of using Forte this year.
  4. Willie Young once again collected a sack, the Bears only one of the day. He’s turning out to be a bright spot this year.
  5. Hats off to Teddy Bridgewater (17 of 20 for 231 yards). He was nearly perfect today. The first touchdown pass to Diggs was a beautiful throw.
  6. The Bears defense got off to a rough start as they looked unorganized with a lot of switching around and pointing on the Vikings first drive. They didn’t look ready to go today.

Miscellaneous

  1. The Bears special teams were better today. They did a particularly good job of returning kick offs for good gains, giving the offense reasonable field position. Sherrick McManis got an onside kick to start the second half (though the Bears lost one later in an effort to come from behind).
  2. The Bears had 6 penalties for 39 yards which is an improvement. But the ones they had were damaging. They’re still getting too many holding calls, including one against Hroniss Grasu on the first play of the game that brought back a Matt Forte 35 yard run.
  3. Drops weren’t a significant factor in the game.
  4. The Bears aren’t going to win many games where they lose the turnover battle. This one was no exception. Kyle Long gave up a strip sack and Jay Cutler threw an interception on an attempted screen pass that I’m sure he’d like to have back.
  5. This game was pretty simple. The better team won. There are all kinds of things like turnovers and penalties that factored in but they really didn’t matter. The Bears lost one-on-one battles all over the field, highlighting their lack of talent and experience. They got beat at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The linebackers got beat by the fast McKinnon. The defensive backs got beat by the receivers like Diggs. The game quite simply showed the difference in where these teams are at right now with the Bears rebuilding and the Vikings rightfully competing for a division title.

Quick Game Comments: Redskins at Bears 12/13/15

BearsBuzz_wk14_Redskins_121115--nfl_mezz_1280_1024Defense

  1. Washington came out running on first down as they worked their way down the field for their first touchdown. That was the game plan – run on the Bears and wear them down. They were up and down, of course, but generally the Redskins generally executed well.
  2. The Bears looked to me like they played a lot of zone on early downs. It’s possible that they were hoping the Redskins would shoot themselves in the foot if they just kept everything in front of them. It was occasionally effective but it made for a bad look when the redskins executed.
  3. Kirk Cousins generally looked sharp with over 300 yards passing but boy, he lives dangerously. He was accurate. He did a good job reading the blitz and the Redskins did a good job picking it up. But sometimes he loses his mind like on the stupid pass to Matt Jones under pressure late in the game when a turnover would have been a killer. I can see why people knock him. He’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
  4. Tight end Jordan Reed (120 yards and 1 touchdown on 9 receptions) is a load. He was quite a match up problem being too big for the safties and way too quick for the linebackers.
  5. Kyle Fuller took a step back and was well on his way to a miserable game until an interception late in the third quarter deep in Washington territory. That led to a touchdown. Fuller fell down on a big third down conversion early in the first half and lost contain on a Kirk Cousins run for a touchdown.
  6. I thought the Bears did a reasonable job of generating pressure but it was mostly when good coverage forced Cousins to hold the ball.
  7. The Redskins had their share of stupid play. They eventually scored the touchdown but its inexcusable to take a delay of game coming out of a time out as the Redskins did with midway through the third quarter. Washington had to call another time out at the end of the third quarter after failing to get a play into Cousins in a timely manner. Although they moved the ball on the Bears effortlessly when they executed, these aren’t the kinds of mistakes that they can afford. Matt Jones literally threw the ball away before he was touched down on one critical play late in the game. He was lucky it bounced back to him.
  8. Eddie Goldman showed up again this week. So did Willie Young and Lamarr Houston with a sack each.

Offense

  1. The Bears came out and tried to run their usual ball control offensive game plan. They struggled, making mistakes and committing penalties, making that kind of game plan tough to execute. The Redskins also dod a good job of stopping the run, holding them to only 87 yards.
  2. The Bears found themselves in third and long far too often. Alshon Jeffery bailed them out on occasion but it was a bad situaiton that the Bears can’t afford to be in.
  3. Jeffery had a good game (107 yards and a touchdown on 6 receptions) after not performing well last week. Like the 49ers, the Redskins put their best corner, Brashaud Breeland, on him but otherwise didn’t do anything special to cover him. He needed a good performance and I thought he did.
  4. Terrance Knighton dominated the interior of the offensive line. Hroniss Grasu looked particularly bad and did not have a good game.
  5. Kyle Long also had a tough day as he gave up two sacks, one of which resulted in a fumble and a turnover. He saw a lot of Ryan Kerrigan, who had a pretty good day.
  6. Jay Cutler was once again, just a little bit erratic, especially deep. He still had 315 yards passing, though.
  7. I’m sure everyone is wondering if Zack Miller’s performance (85 yards on 5 receptions and a touchdown) makes Martellus Bennett is expendable. It doesn’t.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin did a good job. As I mentioned last week, I think Johnston does a particularly good job of noticing and immediately commenting on very relevant aspects of play.
  2. Robbie Gould. Again. Wow.
  3. Like last week against the 49ers, the Bears committed far, far, too many penalties. For example, there was a holding Matt Slauson to make it 2nd and 27 midway through the first quarter. Tracy Porter had a damaging pass interference penalty late in the first quarter. Khari Lee had a holding penalty on a kick off return early in the second quarter and I’m starting to wonder what good he’s doing the Bears after they traded a draft pick for him. A Charles Leno hold brought back a long Zack Miller catch and run in Washington territory late in the second quarter. An offensive pass interference on Marc Mariani followed and took them out of field goal range in the first half. Kyle Long had a false start to put the Bears in a hole as they tried to put a field goal on the board before half time.
  4. Both Jeremy Langford and Matt Forte had drops today. It’s now officially a habitual problem with Langford as this is the fourth game in a row he’s had one.
  5. Turnovers played a major role in this game. With the Bears driving in the first half, Kyle Long got clown suited by Tren Murphy who went on almost untouched to hit Jay Cutler, causing a fumble and a recovery. Kyle Fuller got a huge interception that led to a game tying Bears touchdown late in the third quarter.
  6. Similar to last week, this was a frustrating game to watch. This time, at least, I thought the Redskins were the better team but it was still a game that they hung in and it was winnable, But yet again, time after time they shot themselves in the foot with sloppy play, especially penalties.  I’m a bit disappointed that the team hasn’t played a clean game since beating Green Bay.  I thought the second half of this game was a little less sloppy than the first.  So maybe the Bears are on their way back to playing better football.  They’ll have to be if they want to finish on a high note heading into next year.

Game Comments: 49ers at Bears 12/6/15

Image-1Defense

  1. The 49ers came out with a conservative offensive game plan with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. It was mostly dump offs and runs for much of the game with very little downfield until the game winner.
  2. The 49ers had a tough time moving the ball in the first quarter and, in particular, did a poor job of running the ball. They did a better job starting in the second quarter by going up temp and executing a little better. Shaun Draughn did a particularly nice job of running the ball.
  3. The 49er game plan did a particularly good job of taking advantage of the Bears lack of speed at linebacker. Time after time Gabbert would dump the ball off to a back coming out of the backfield that had managed to get good separation from the linebacker who was covering him.
  4. Gabbert wasn’t as accurate as I was led to believe he’s been in previous games. But he did a surprisingly good job of gashing the Bears with his mobility.
  5. As with the Packers game on Thanksgiving, the coverage by the defensive backs was generally excellent today. I thought Kyle Fuller did a particularly good job.
  6. The Bears only rushed four for most of this game and to my eye had a tough time getting pressure on Gabbert. Having said that, Willie Young had a good day with a sack and a half.

Offense

  1. The Bears came out running the ball and generally did a good job of it. The offensive line did a nice job of blocking the 49ers and moving them at the line of scrimmage, especially early. They also recommitted to the running game after halftime with some success. The Bears will always have a good chance if they can run the ball.
  2. Jay Cutler was unusually erratic with his throws downfield today. As usual, he saw some pressure.
  3. The 49ers did some damage with well-timed blitzes against both the run and the pass. The first 49er touchdown on a pick six from Cutler comes to mind immediately. The 49ers tricked Cutler into audibling into a quick pass to the outside by bringing a blitz. It was a very nice job by the 49er defense, which obviously anticipated that Cutler would do this based upon film study.
  4. The Bears game plan for the running backs was interesting. Tehy split both Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford wide and frequently went to an empty set with them on the field. This forced the 49ers to respond with a defensive alignment that respected the run with the Bears in a passing formation. This is something we’ve seen on occasion befor but I don’t remember them ever doing it this much.
  5. Matt Forte had a particularly good game. Sometimes he just wouldn’t go down. His touchdown run early in the second quarter where he literally dragged the defense from the line of scrimmage into the end zone comes to mind as a good example.
  6. Also, let’s give Ka’Deem Carey some love. The guy runs extremely hard.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Laura Okmin did a nice job. Johnston, in particular, peppered the game with timely and insightful comments that we don’t see often enough from many other color men around the league outside of prime games.
  2. Robbie Gould missed a 40 yard field goal in the third quarter that the Bears could have really needed with the game tied at 13. It’s worth noting that the game was tied at 13 because the 49ers missed an extra point. Not a great game for the special teams until Deonte Thompson ran the ball back into field goal range with 1:32 remaining in the regulation. And of course, that was followed by another missed field goal. Robbie Gould is having an off year. Part of it may be losing Patrick Mannelly. They had yet another new long snapper this week. On the punt late in the second quarter that eventually went through the back of the endzone, someone will have to explain to me what Tracy Porter thought he was doing when he touched that ball.
  3. The Bears committed far too many penalties in this game (8 badly timed penalties for 75 yards). Time after time they would have a good, productive offensive play only to have it called back for a penalty. They can’t play a ball control offense and set themselves back like this. A hold on LaRoy Reynolds early in the game on a punt return was also particularly egregious as it took a Bryce Callahan touchdown off the board.
  4. Jeremy Langford has had a drop in each of the last three games. He’s got to do better than that, especially with the Bears splitting him out as a wide receiver.
  5. The Bears dominated the first quarter in this game but left the 49ers in it by giving up the pick as noted above under “Offense”. They have a narrow margin for error and need to avoid mistakes of that type more than most teams. Perhaps someone needs to give Cutler more options and/or remind him not to audible to that play so often to keep the defense guessing.
  6. This was a frustrating game to watch. The Bears were the better team on the field as they dominated the time of possession but, for the first time all year, time after time they shot themselves in the foot with sloppy play, especially penalties. Could it have been a let down coming off of the victory at Green Bay followed by a long 11 day break? I don’t know. But I do hope we don’t see this again and that the team gets back to the kind of play that has been their trademark for most of this season.