Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 10/18/15


  1. The Lions come out mixing it up and playing well. They sustained a good, long drive starting at their own 20 yard line and ending with a touchdown. In contrast to recent weeks, they looked ready to play and take care of business. The Bears didn’t do anything fancy in defense, playing both their standard 3-4 and their nickel defense when expected. The Lions simply executed.
  2. Tracy Porter came out on Calvin Johnson as expected. If he was getting any special safety help, it wasn’t evident at first. Later after Porter had some help with Harold Jones-Quartey was bracketing Johnson deep. Kyle Fuller also had a very tough time with Lance Moore. The lack of pressure on Stafford didn’t help (see below). All in all it was a tough game for the defensive backs.
  3. In fairness to Fuller, he did come up aggressively on some quick throws to the outside to make a few good tackles.
  4. Having said that, Harold Jones-Quartey missed a tackle to allow Calvin Johnson to go 43 yards on a drive in the second quarter. Johnson hasn’t looked good this year but he somehow managed to take advantage of the Bears defense, which was playing zone on the play.
  5. Jones-Quartey wasn’t the only one who wasn’t tackling well. For the first time all season I can say that there was some bad tackling out there pretty much all over on occasion.
  6. The Bears had trouble getting pressure on Stafford over a much maligned offensive line. They were running stunts but the Lions were blocking it well.
  7. As with the pass protection, I thought the Lions offensive line did a good job blocking the run. All in all the Bears were getting blown back off the line and were having a tough time getting off of blocks. Aggressive play behind them helped limit the damage.
  8. I love Ameer Abdulla but was disappointed to once again see him put the ball on the ground again. The Lions got it back but it’s still a problem.
  9. Jeremiah Ratliff was out there but it sure didn’t show.


  1. The Lions came out playing eight in the box on first down. The Bears were glad to take advantage by attacking the edges with a lot of quick screens to the outside. The Bears didn’t abandon the run but the Lions defense was definitely stopping it. The Bears success with the pass eventually loosened them up and Forte saw more room later in the half .
  2. It was funny to watch the Lions come out for the second half because it was like a replay of the first half. They went back to what they started with, putting eight in the box and stopping the run. The Bears eventually went to the pass to beat it. I’d say that the Bears were reasonably successful taking what the Lions gave them, today.
  3. Again, its worth noting that the Lions looked aggressive and ready to play. They weren’t world beaters but to my eye they was still plenty of effort.
  4. Eddie Royal was back in the slot, this time helped out by having Alshon Jeffery back out wide. Royal came to the Bears hoping he could prove that he could play on the outside. But its obvious that the slot is where he belongs and he looks good there.
  5. Jay Cutler was far from perfect with his ball placement again, occasionally making it a lot tougher on his receivers than it should have been. He threw behind his receiver twice near the goal line late in the second quarter – once on a simple wide receiver screen – and the Bears settled for a field goal. Once again I was shaking my head over some throws.
  6. Cutler didn’t see a whole lot of pressure from the Lions front four against a patch work Bears offensive line. Once again, Cutler was very effective moving around the pocket when he did see pressure . On one pass late in the second quarter, he pulled off a near miracle to get away from pressure and throw up a 45 yard jump ball for Alshon Jeffery. Cutler threw some good clutch passes on the Bears last possession in regulation.
  7. The Bears struggled in the red zone today, settling for field goals more often than I’d like. They did score a critical touchdown midway through the fourth quarter but they needed an extra set of downs on what I thought was a questionable defensive holding call to do it.


  1. Chris Myers and Ronde Barber were OK. Again, I didn’t feel like I learned much and Barber gave me the distinct impression that he had some sympathy for the Lions but not enough to really be bothersome. Looking at Jen Hale makes me happy.
  2. I’m getting a little tired of watching other kickers put the ball out of the end zone while Robbie Gould kicks it short. Marc Mariani had a nice return in the second quarter but it was the usual story as it was brought back by a holding penalty. On the good side, the Bears recovered two muffed punts, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth in what was some poor special teams play by the Lions. The Lions pulled out a nicely timed fake punt in the fourth quarter to help make up for some of it.
  3. Walt Coleman’s crew had the fewest called penalties in the league going in to this game but apparently the Bears were out to ruin their record. Will Sutton was offsides, eliminating a sack from Jonathan Anderson. Sam Acho had a damaging face mask penalty on a Lions touchdown drive in the second quarter. Kyle Long had two holding penalties which put the Bears offense in a hole, one in the second quarter and one in the third. The Bears lost a first down in the third quarter on an Alshon Jeffery hold. Jeffery also had a pass interference in the red zone in the fourth quarter. He made up for it with a nice touchdown catch a play later. Fuller had a bad pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter to put the Lions into the red zone. For the Lions, Glover Quin had an unnecessary roughness call in the second quarter. They lost a touchdown on and offensive pass interference call on Calvin Johnson. It looked like a bad call to me, though. Josh Bynes had a bad holding call on Alshon Jeffery in the end zone to give the Bears four new downs in the red zone. Forte put the ball into the end zone.
  4. It felt like there were so many penalties in over time I stopped counting.  Suffice it to say I thought it was sloppy.
  5. There weren’t that many drops but Tim Wright had a bad one midway through the fourth quarter with the Lions down 31-24. Golden Tate also had a drop in the red zone on a ball thrown behind him in the red zone in the fourth quarter. Eddie Royal had a bad drop in over time.
  6. Jonathan Anderson almost came up with a huge interception late in the second quarter in the end zone. Great play by Kyle Fuller stripping the ball on that play. Unfortunately the call on the field was reversed and the referees awarded the Lions a touchdown on the field. That non-turnover meant as much to this game as any real turnover did. Good for Anderson for getting another one in the fourth quarter as Matthew Stafford pulled a Cutler on a badly thrown, soul-crushing interception deep in Detroit territory. Cutler had a third quarter interception in the end zone on a bad throw which cost the Bears at least three points.
  7. With the score at 24-22 early in the fourth quarter, I was pretty surprised to see the Bears kick the extra point rather than go for two. I con’t see the downside to going for it. It will be interesting to hear John Fox’s explanation after the game. They successfully went for two after scoring a touchdown later in the quarter.
  8. On the Lion’s side, kicking the field goal with less than three minutes to play on 4th and four in the red zone was a head scratcher. They did have three time outs and the Bears did have to run the ball to try to run the clock out. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the decision that I would have made. But I guess it worked out.
  9. The last Lions possession in regulation was a circus. There was a devastating intentional grounding call with 45 second left in the game on what I thought was a simple cross up between Stafford and Golden Tate. That was followed by a tough roughing the passer call against Pernell McPhee. Calvin Johnson finally put an end to it with a good six yard touchdown catch from Stafford.
  10. Though it was far from perfect, this was a pretty good football game to watch. These were reasonably well-matched, competitive teams, one that has a bad habit of turning the ball over and the other that has a bad habit of shooting itself in the foot with penalties. I thought both teams played hard, though. That was especially notable from the Lions, who some speculated might simply throw in the towel on a disappointing season after starting 0-5. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching these two teams play ball.
Posted in Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Game Comments | 1 Comment

Marquess Wilson Come Out

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the emergence of wide receiver Marquess Wilson:

“In the last two games, Wilson has been targeted 17 times and has 12 catches for 165 yards and one touchdown. That’s after he had nine targets and just three catches while playing 158 snaps in the first three games.

“‘Part of it is consistency, but part of it is this is a guy who even though he has been here three years hasn’t really played much,’ wide receivers coach Mike Groh said. “

And part of it is that the Bears have finally faced two mediocre secondaries. And quarterback Jay Cutler has done a wonderful job of avoiding the rush and that’s allowed Wilson and his mates to get open. Even then, the Bears aren’t getting a lot out of the offense.

It looks a lot like the Bears will be facing another struggling secondary this Sunday and a defensive front that isn’t getting to the quarterback like they did last year. I’d look for Wilson to once again be a minor force in an offense that needs everthing it can get.

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What Is the Future of David Fales?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“With Jimmy Clausen‘s performance vs. Seattle, is the release of David Fales more of a reflection of Fales being worse than him or is it salary/cap related? — @brentodento

“Well, they have a depth chart for a reason. Clausen opened the offseason ahead of Fales and remained there the entire time. That’s for one simple reason — the team believes he’s a better option and provides the team with a better chance to win than Fales, who has been placed on waivers twice now in five weeks. Fales was let go this week to make room for linebacker Jonathan Anderson, who was promoted from the practice squad because of an injury to Shea McClellin.”

Fales has been put back onto the practice squad so the Bears haven’t given up on him.

Having said that, what reflects badly on Fales isn’t the fact that he was released to make room for another player. It’s that he’s passed through waivers (twice) and remained on the practice squad without a peep of interest from other teams. I’d say that, more than anything else, is an indication that Fales, in his second year, is not considered to be a developmental prospect. At least not one with any potential to start.

Former Bears GM Phil Emery said when Fales was drafted that he was picked as a player with the “potential to be a backup”. That never made any sense to me. It seems to me like you pick players who have the potential to start and then let them fall to backup if that’s their lot in life. You never say never because the light may come on at any time. But it looks to me like the Fales pick is unlikely to pay dividends.

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How Well is Adrian Amos Really Playing?

Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. Here he addresses the strengths and weakness in the play of rookie safety Adrian Amos:

“The next progression in his game will be to begin making impact plays and get his hands on balls and show the range in the middle of the field, the trait you are really looking for from a free safety against the passing offenses in the NFL right now. But as I see it, Amos is doing everything they are asking him to.

“As far as the grades he receives from PFF, those are evaluations done watching television copies of the game. You can watch 10 plays without seeing Amos really be around any play because of the tight camera angles to the ball, especially in a game like the Bears had against the Chiefs, who had a lateral passing game or one that is short to very intermediate.”

This is essentially my complaint about PFF. They do their best but there are limitations and I wouldn’t take these grades too seriously.

One thing I’ll emphasize that is related to Biggs’ comment. Though the camera often won’t show where a free safety goes over the course of an entire play, you should be seeing him under some circumstances. This is particularly true of passes along the side line where safeties with good range come in near the end of the play over the top to assist a cornerback in breaking up the connection. I never see Amos doing this and I consider it to be a bad sign. In fairness, as Biggs implies, it’s possible that they aren’t asking him to help out under these circumstances – I won’t claim to know his assignments. But I am worried that he may lack the range to make plays on the ball.

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Lovie Smith: Not in Trouble in Tampa Bay. But He Should Be.

Rick Stroud at the Tampa Bay Times writes about whether former Bears head coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat there:

“Contrary to what a few fans may believe, Smith’s coaching seat isn’t getting warm. Not even tepid.

“Why? When you take a quarterback No. 1 overall in the draft and plan to play him right away, you commit to the process as an organization, which is what the Bucs have done.”

“Smith is not blameless. He and general manager Jason Licht have made their share of mistakes in free agency. Some positions in the secondary and on the defensive line still are a revolving door. Any time Smith says the Bucs are 1-3, fans counter that they are 3-17 under Smith.”

Smith is entirely to blame. He’s has been put in charge and is ultimately responsible for all of the personnel decisions that are made in Tampa Bay, something that I pointed out was a grave error when they hired him. Smith is a pretty good head coach. But it’s not a co-incidence that the Bears drafts began to go more and more downhill as he gained more and more influence in the organization.

Despite winning his first ever home game in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Stroud says that Smith isn’t in trouble with ownership because they’re playing with a rookie quarterback and that’s fair enough. But the Tampa Bay problems are also on defense where they are last in the league with 148 points allowed over 5 games. That’s supposed to be Smith’s specialty and most Bears fans know he’s pretty good at it. But his insistence in meddling with player personnel is keeping that side of the ball unsettled. And it may not get better.

In many ways Smith is lucky. Having Jameis Winston is a built in excuse that will buy him time despite poor performance in other areas of his job. But he’s in over his head in Tampa Bay and unless they hire a real general manager with real power over personnel, its likely to stay that way.

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Bears Riding a Streak with Jay Cutler

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the play of quarterback Jay Cutler:

“I think the best thing about Jay Cutler’s game in this early part of the season has been his pocket presence. He hasn’t been rattled and plays haven’t fallen apart when he’s been pressured. In fact, he’s created extra time for receivers to come free from their man or find a soft spot in the zone on many occasions in pretty much every game. You saw it on multiple occasions here where he moved around in the pocket or stepped up in the pocket to make a connection.”

He’s right. Cutler is doing an excellent job of moving in the pocket, the sign of a mature quarterback who is in a groove. I’ve also noticed that Cutler is starting to throw the ball with just a bit of anticipation to receivers coming out of their breaks, something that’s absolutely necessary with the receiving corp that he’s dealing with.

As Biggs notes, Cutler’s statistics aren’t dazzling and there’s a reason for that, He’s been very inconsistent, pulling some wonderful throws out of his hat, then following them with head scratchingly inaccurate passes. Last Sunday provided a good example as Cutler dropped a wonderful 33 yard bomb to Marquess Wilson for a touchdown, then followed it with a pass at Matt Forte‘s feet on the two point conversion attempt.

Nevertheless, even Cutler’s harshest critics – and I consider myself to be one – would have to acknowledge it. Cutler is on a roll.

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Finding Playing Time for Willie Young

willie-young-nfl-chicago-bears-detroit-lions-850x560As Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reviews the film from Sunday’s game, he notes the perfomance of “linebacker” Willie Young. Young “had a sack and another strong rush”. Young had 20 snaps on Sunday, playing mostly opposite Pernell McPhee and to my eye, after McPhee, he looked like the strongest pass rusher out there.

Young reportedly asked for a trade after Jared Allen was traded to Carolina. Allen was struggling in the system and Young obviously see himself in the same boat. The difference is that Young has been and is more effective as a pass rusher than the 33 year old Allen. Young is also fighting for playing time with Lamarr Houston (who also had a sack Sunday) and Sam Acho, who probably is the best all around linebacker of the three but who has the worst pass rush skills of the three.

I strongly suspect that the Bears are hesitant to give Young more playing time because of his weakness in pass coverage as a linebacker. But they need to find a way to do it, both to keep him happy and to keep pressure on the quarterback. Perhaps the solution is to play him strictly in nickel situations where the defense plays more of a 4-3 front. If they do that, they need to give him every snap they can.

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Quick Comments: Bears at Chiefs 10/11/15


  1. As had been their habit, the Bears came out in a double tight end set. They continued to run the ball on first down but limited success forced the to pass predominantly on the other downs.
  2. The Bears relied heavily on wide receiver screens and quick throws to the outside. Otherwise they stuck to short throws and the running game. It’s possible that they didn’t trust the offensive line to protect Jay Cutler.
  3. The offensive line was under siege in pass protection. They did a little better in blocking the run but overall it wasn’t a good day for the unit.
  4. Having said that, I thought Kyle Long generally held his own. Long’s getting better every game. Neither Long nor Charles Leno got much chip help from the tight ends.
  5. Rookie center Hroniss Grasu got blown up on a sack that turned into a touchdown as Jay Cutler fumbled in the end zone. The knock on Grasu is that he’s undersized and needs a year in the weight room. He was just plain overpowered on the play. He also was frequently pushed into the backfield when run blocking, as well. The Chiefs tried to confuse the Grasu and offense by crowding the line with a fair bit of blitzing. I’d say it was success. Grasu had a rough day.
  6. Speaking of the blitz, the Chiefs were apparently doing a good job of taking away Cutler’s hot receiver when the they brought the house. Cutler apparently had nowhere to go with the ball.
  7. To Adam Gase’s credit, it didn’t take long for him to counter the Chief’s blitzes, especially on third down. He went to the screen pass as soon as it became apparent that was the plan.
  8. The Bears did a good job juggling snaps between the three running backs. It seemed like everyone got their carries.
  9. Cutler was up and down. Sometimes he makes some wonderful throws, as he did on a 33 yard pass to Marquess Wilson near the end of the third quarter and on another 22 yarder to Wilson for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, though, he had a rough game accuracy-wise with a fair number of passes that left me shaking my head. Once again, I certainly can’t complain with the two minute drive to win the game.
  10. Martellus Bennett had a tough game. The Chiefs did a good job of playing tight coverage on him and limiting his effectiveness as Cutler’s only really good receiving option outside of Matt Forte.
  11. I thought the pass interference penalty that set up the game winning TD pass was a good call as Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters turned late and didn’t make a play on the ball.  But I admit it was questionable.


  1. The Bears played a great deal of nickel today, especially in the first half. You have to wonder if the injury to safety Antrel Rolle had something to do with that. Things changed in the second half as they started pounding the Bears with the run and the Bears went more with their base 3-4.
  2. Kansas City relied heavily on the short passing game as is their habit. The Bears countered by running more zone defense than usual, presumably to limit the run after the catch.
  3. I spent a good part of the first half wondering why the Chiefs weren’t handing the ball off to Jamaal Charles more, especially given the fact that is a standard way to beat the kind of nickel zone defense the Bears were running. They finally tried to get him going in the second quarter and he did well until leaving with an injury in the third.
  4. Very interesting to watch Charles run. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a runner who is better at pressing the hole and using his blockers.
  5. Smith got rid of the ball fast but the few times he held the ball the Bears got some pressure on him over a much maligned Kansas City offensive line. They didn’t resort much to the blitz.
  6. Tracy Porter pretty much gave up the second Kansas City touchdown himself by aggressively attacking De’Anthony Thomas to the inside. Thomas ran to the outside and there was no one out there to stop him. It was one of a number of missed tackles and bad angles taken by the Bears defense over the course of the day.
  7. Kansas City has made a living attacking the middle of the field against other teams and they did a fair job of taking advantage of Shea McClellin today. But they seemed to like passing the ball out to the edge better today. It’s possible that they were targeting the Bears lack of speed on defense.
  8. Kansas City also tried to target nickel back Sherrick McManis by putting Jeremy Maclin in the slot. It was successful as Maclin had a pretty good day (8 catches, 85 yards) up until he bobbled the ball with 2 seconds left in the game to turn a 57 yard field goal into a 66 yard attempt.
  9. I thought Willie Young came on to show some people what he could do today. The Bears have gotten very little in pass rush from the linebacker position on the other side of Pernell McPhee and I’m wondering if we might not see more of him in the future.


  1. Sam Rosen isn’t the best play-by-play man to have for an NFL game. John Lynch did a surprisingly good job with what I thought were some insightful comments. Pam Oliver was her usual self – which is fine.
  2. One again, the punt return team had a holding penalty in the first quarter. That’s become a problematic habit. The Kansas City punt return team took their turn with a block in the back in the second quarter.
  3. Far too many penalties again for the Bears as they had 6 for 49 yards with much of that coming in the first half. Zack Miller had a false start. So did Charles Leno. Leno also had a hands to the face call. Martellus Bennett had a hold. Sherrick McManis got caught holding Jeremy Maclin in the second quarter. There was a critical face mask penalty on the kick coverage team with 11 seconds left in the game.
  4. Too many drops for a team that can’t afford to have any. Martellus Bennett was responsible for a lot of them including a critical one on the last drive in the fourth quarter. Kansas City also had their share of problems with drops. Jeremy Maclin had one. Jamaal Charles had another.
  5. As far as turnovers go, they don’t get much worse than the Cutler fumble in the endzone to give up the touchdown. I’d say that got the Chiefs going and set the tone as much as anything. To their credit, neither team had any more.
  6. This was a nice win for the Bears and their improving defense.  Its said that this is a coaches league.  The Bears are showing themselves to be well coached as they overcame a big talent deficit to pull this one out.
Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, Kansas City Chiefs | Leave a comment

The Situation in St. Louis Is Smelling Very Bad

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com informs us of a potential disaster in St. Louis near Rams Park as there is an underground fire smoldering in one landfill very close to another landfill which contains radioactive waste:

“Via the Chicago Tribune, a disaster plan discovered this week by KMOX radio in St. Louis, the possibility exists for the release of a smoke plume containing radioactive fallout — and it would ‘most likely occur with little or no advance warning.'”

“The fire is happening at the Bridgeton Landfill. Which sits next to theWest Lake Landfill. Which contains radioactive waste from uranium processing.

“Bridgeton Landfill has become notorious for its pungent odor. As someone who has been to Rams Park in recent years tells PFT, when the wind is blowing toward the team’s facility, the odor is ‘unbearable.’ It’s believed that the Rams check to see whether it’s a downwind-from-the-stink day before bringing free agents to Rams Park. (If they don’t already do that, they probably should.)”

For heaven’s sake, no wonder Rams owner Stan Kroenke can’t wait to get out of the St. Louis. They’re at the intersection of a landfill with a terrible odor and a radioactive waste dump!

St. Louis really blew this. They could have renovated their stadium as called for by their contract with the Rams years ago. Instead they chose to fight it and then, after they were ordered by a court to do it, still refused. Now they’ve taken an awful situation and made it unbearable. I can’t imagine that the Rams aren’t one of the teams that ends up in Los Angeles as soon as next year.

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Terrell Owens Still Crazy After All These Years

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com quotes 41 yer old former wide receiver Terrell Owens as he claims that he could still play for the Eagles:

“‘You think that I shouldn’t be playing right now?’ Owens said on the same day his Football Life documentary debuted on NFL Network. ‘I definitely could be playing right now, but based on my character — yeah, people can say, ‘Oh he’s 41.”

“It sounds like Owens wanted to once again claim that the NFL’s lack of interest comes from media-fueled concerns regarding his disruptive locker-room behavior. But he was wise not to shine a light on that topic, what with the voters (all of whom belong to the media) poised to give him a bronze bust in early February.”

“He has a point, and with quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck getting it done at the age of 40, it’s hard not to wonder why someone wouldn’t give Owens a chance. He undoubtedly has grown and matured in five years of not playing, and he’d surely be grateful for getting one last opportunity to play.”

A) Wide receivers are not quarterbacks. B) Even if they were, there’s no way that, after head coach Chip Kelly spent the entire offseason getting rid of the divas on that team, he’s going to invite a locker room disruption like Owens into the mix now.

I understand that it’s hard ot accept. But its time for Owens to accept the fact that on the wrong side of 40, he simply isn’t worth the problems he brings. It’s time ot let it go and enjoy retirement.

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