Quick Comments: Vikings at Bears


  1. Henry Melton kiked off a reasonably good game for the defensive line with a sack right off the bat.
  2. In a change from recent games, the Bears played seven in box on first down even when the Vikings were in running formations.
  3. The Vikings do like to run on first down but, despite early predictions last week, the Vikings looked like they ran a more or less balanced offense early. They eventually figured it out, though. They began running more in the second quarter and doing it more effectively as the Bears flat out refused to bring an eighth man down into the box. Fortunately the Vikings fell far enough behind to where it limited thier opportunities to take advantage.
  4. Quarterback Christian Ponder looks like a good smart quarterback to me. I didn’t see many bad decisions and he was under pressure from a nice effort from the Bears defensive line for much of the game.
  5. I was kind of surprised that the Vikings were working Charles Tillman early before he was injured.
  6. The Vikings made good use of tight end Kyle Rudolph as he repeatedly burned the Bears. I’m thinking they saw what the 49ers did last week. The Bears are going to need to come up with an answer for that.
  7. Its worth noting that the tacking was better today.


  1. First series – fumble Matt Forte. Second series, Cuter trips and J’Marcus Webb almost gets him killed by not adjusting on a line stunt by Everson Griffen. Another nice start for the Bears offense.
  2. I like the way that quarterback Jay Cutler distributed the ball to all of the receivers. In all of the hand-wringing over the Vikings defensive line last week, no one mentioned the miserable defensive backfield.
  3. Cutler had a really good game. He was accurate, fitting the ball into some tight places, and he used his mobility well to bail out of the pocket and avoid pressure.
  4. I won’t say it was a great game for the offensive line but it was, of course, considerably better. There was pressure from the Vikings defensive line but most of the time it wasn’t anything Cutler couldn’t handle. Jonathan Scott looks like an upgrade over Gabe Carimi.
  5. Unbelievable catch by Matt Spaeth for a touchdown in the second quarter.
  6. Nice use of the clock in the 2 minute offense at the end of the half. Despite the fact that the kick was blocked, the team got Robbie Gould a lot closer for a field goal in the last minute of play.
  7. I haven’t said it lately but Brandon Marshall is unbelievable. The catches he makes with guys literally hanging all over him never cease to amaze me.


  1. It wasn’t thier best game but Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa were still better than the average announcing team you are going to see. I particularly liked it when Johnston pointed out that Lance Louis was pulling and should lead the Vkings to the ball.
  2. Kellen Davis dropped two and Marshall had a drop. Marshall’s drops were costly as one was intercepted and the other should have been a touchdown. But the most damaging drop came in the third quarter when the Vikings Jarius Wright was wide open in the endzone and dropped the ball ultmately costing the Vikings seven badly needed points as they failed to score on the possession.
  3. I agree with Siragusa. A quarterback, in this case Cutler, should never get a taunting penalty.
  4. The game was notable for its blocked field goals as each team managed to get one. Julius Peppers just keeps them coming.
  5. Unlike recent games, the turnovers were damaging today as a fumble and an interception cost the Bears 10 points and and two fumbles and an interception cost the Vikings 14. The Cutler interception really should have been caught be Brandon Marshall.
  6. The Bears showed some intestinal fortitude and came back to play well after a miserable game in San Francisco. They took care of business, beating a team that they were decidedly superior to at home. Perhaps the bigger story will be the Bears players lost to injury as some important men left the field today (Devin Hester, Tillman, Chris Spencer, Lance Lewis and Forte). They’re goiing to be needed as the schedule continues to get tougher.

Do Bears Players Too Often Fail in Position Changes? And Other Points of View.


  • Gabe Carimi and Chil Rachal are out, Jonathan Scott and Chris Spencer are in. I expect this won’t be the last we see of Carimi as I’m reasonably sure he’s being limited by a bad knee, whether the team wants to adimit it or not. When given the chance by Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times to blame his recovery from the dislocated knee last year Carimi didn’t say “No”.

As an aside, I can’t imagine how annoying it is to Carimi that the Tribune keeps using this picture of him for their articles.

  • Good question from fan, good answer from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune. You decide the right of it:

“During Monday’s game, Jon Gruden mentioned how many of the Bears’ O-linemen were playing unfamiliar positions: J’Marcus Webb entered the league as a RT, Chilo Rachal only played on the right side prior to this season, Roberto Garza spent most of his career at RG, and Gabe Carimi played his entire college career at LT. But that doesn’t begin to cover the position changes forced on players by this coaching staff. Lance Louis, the only O-lineman currently playing his natural position, lost a year of development last season playing RT. Chris Spencer, who started for several years at center and was signed the day Olin Kreutz left, has only played guard for the Bears. Danieal Manning, now playing very well for Houston, was switched from safety to corner to safety to nickleback and finally back to safety before being let go as a free agent because he hadn’t developed the way the coaches thought he should. And these guys are still at it: no one outside Halas Hall believes Shea McClellan‘s best position is as a 4-3 DE, while Evan Rodriguez was touted on draft day as a pass-catching TE and is now a FB. Is it fair to say they have flat-out failed when it comes to changing players’ positions? Are the players starting to lose faith that the coaches can put them in a position to be successful? — Mark Early, Arlington, Va.

“I think you have to look at each case individually Mark. If a guard can’t switch from the left side to the right, how good is he? If you think Gabe Carimi has struggled at right tackle, you don’t want to see how he would be blocking on the left side. Roberto Garza has played no worse at center than he did at guard. Lance Louis played right tackle out of necessity last year. I think both rookies, McClellan and Rodriguez, have looked pretty promising at their positions. The one guy who was really hurt by position switching, in my opinion, was Danieal Manning.”

The only comment I really have is that Danieal Manning was hurt the most by his inability to play the position the Bears really needed him at: free safety. The rest of the excuses might have some validity but that’s the bottom line.

  • Kelvin Hayden brings a bit of a different attitude to the nickel back position as he discusses the pass that 49er wide receiver Kyle Williams burned him on. His comments to Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times invite comparisons to what former starter D.J. Moore might have said:

“‘It was just a play where one bad step will cost you, and it cost me,’ Hayden said. ‘It was just one bad play. Hopefully, I learn from it. I think I have.’

Hayden said he played well otherwise, but that was of little consolation.”

“Bears trainers were reportedly worried about the significant concussion suffered by Jay Cutler during Chicago’s loss to the Texans [two weeks ago], expressing fears that the traumatic brain injury might prevent the petulant quarterback from ever sulking again.”


  • Runningback Adrian Peterson on his recovery from surgery after he tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. He appears to be better now than he was before the injury. Via Pompei:

“‘It really made me look at things differently,’ he said. ‘It really made me scratch harder, dig even deeper when I was working out and training to get back. This injury is like a blessing in disguise. It helped me push through (to) another level.’

“Peterson said he is like one of the Dragon Ball Z warriors who transforms to a ‘Super Saiyan’ when he needs to channel something extra.

“‘Some of them just fight regular, but then they come up against competition and go Super Saiyan,’ he said. ‘That’s what it is. I had to go Super Saiyan to get back.'”

  • Dan Wiederer and Chris Miller at the Minneapolis Star Tribune report that Percy Harvin missed practice. His presence or absence Sunday might make a crucial difference in the game.
  • Barry Wilner at the Associated Press breaks down the game. Bottom line for the Vikings: Run the ball, don’t turn it over (which they have a history of doing) and get pressure with the front four. We’ll see if they can execute it.


  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz on invalidating an automatic review by throwing his own challenge flag, thus incurring an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Via Chris McCoskey at The Detroit News:

“‘I know the rule,’ Schwartz said. ‘You can’t challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted. He was obviously down on the field. I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown.

“‘I cost us a touchdown.'”

Kudos to Schwartz for taking responsibility. But it doesn’t change the fact that by losing his head, he cost his team not only because he gave the Texans a touchdown but because, as their leader, the team’s lack of discipline reflects directly on his own.

The personality of every team reflects the personality of it head coach.

  • Much as I like Rex Ryan I have to wonder about the way that team is playing right now. Like the Lions and the Eagles, it looks to me like there is a lot of wasted talent on the field and Ryan is being asked if he thinks he’ll be back next year with some justification. From Gary Myers at The New York Daily News:

“‘I do,’ he said when he was asked if he thought he would be back. ‘And I think our team will play a heck of a lot better and I don’t believe anybody will ask that question by the time the year is over. That is my personal opinion.’

“It’s a good thing Ryan has built up plenty of goodwill with Woody Johnson, because this performance against the hated Patriots was bad enough to get most coaches fired. The Jets showed no sense of urgency in what was a desperate attempt to make themselves relevant in December.”

“Mathematically, they are alive. Emotionally, there might not be much left of this team. But still no ‘Rex must go’ chants, which was the only good news of the night for Ryan.”

  • Give Carl some credit for this lock. But maybe not for his opinions on concussions:

One Final Thought

Dan McNeil at the Chicago Tribune and I see eye to eye on the importance of this game Sunday:

“The reality is Sunday’s date with the surprising 6-4 Vikings could wind up defining the season and, potentially, coach Lovie Smith’s long-term future with the Bears.”

I won’t say that they gave up but the team looked about as glad to get off the field in San Fransisco as I was to turn the TV off. They were broken.

Since that’s the case, this question to Pompei is probably on a lot of fans minds:

“If the Bears don’t end up making the playoffs this year, do you see Lovie Smith‘s job being in jeopardy? — Daniel Gutstein, Lincolnwood

“For the Bears not to make the playoffs, they probably would have to lose four of their remaining six games. They might have to lose five of six. That would be a significant collapse. And, assuming there weren’t extenuating circumstances that led to the collapse, I think that kind of late-season failure could put Smith’s job in jeopardy.”

Here’s the remaining schedule and how I see it playing out:

  • Vikings at Bears – win
  • Seahawks at Bears – loss
  • Bears at Vikings – loss
  • Green Bay at Bears – loss
  • Bears at Arizona – win
  • Bears at Lions – loss

This would put the Bears at 9-7 with a reasonable shot at the playoffs. Green Bay is the better team and the Bears aren’t going to beat anyone with that offensive line in those domes in Detroit and Minnesota. The Arizona game on the road is a close call but, in this case, its the Bears who are the better team.

How close are the other games? I honestly think it comes down more to where they are played rather than who the Bears are playing. The season is going to turn on this week’s game and the Seattle game afterwards. The Bears are better than the Vikings at home and need to take care of business. Seattle is probably the better team but, again, the Bears play better at home and the Seahawks aren’t as good on the road. Both are very close calls.

Bottomline, I think Smith’s chances are reasonably good to keep his job. But I’ve certainly been wrong before and its going to be a close thing unless they turn out to be better than I think they are.

“It’s Not Scheme Issue” and Other Points of View


  • Chicago Tribune columnists Steve Rosenbloom and Fred Mitchell and sports editor Mike Kellams “talk postgame” with former NFL safety Matt Bowen after the Bears’ loss to the 49ers with .

I loved the comment that Bowen made above when asked if [head coach Lovie]Smith would just skip the film review of a rough game coming on a short week. He said he had one coach who did that and he didn’t last long in the league, going right back to college (where he belonged).

“Their problem is that they are a well-coached team that loses big games because they get outcoached. And you know what’s coming next: Smith’s steady hand will right the ship. If [quarterback Jay] Cutler returns, the Bears will bounce back against the Vikings, Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions. But eventually the Bears are likely to run into Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers, Jim Harbaugh or Tom Coughlin. And the big question will be more clear than ever: Are Smith, [offensive coordinator Mike] Tice and [defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli up to the challenge?”

“How is it that Jacksonville Jaguars backup Chad Henne can come off the bench after not having taken a single snap in practice and — with the lowest-ranked offense in the NFL — torch the Houston Texans for 354 yards, four touchdowns and a 133.8 passer rating?”

The reason is that, like the 49ers, the Texans got up for the Bears game. In fact, you could argue that the 49ers tied the Rams last week because they were actually looking past them to this game.

This leads to some great team performances in prime time. But it also leads to some ups and downs over the course of a season that are going to give you some bad games against teams you should beat. To Lovie Smith’s credit, the Bears avaid these kinds of uneven performances by never getting too high or too low. Unfortunately, it also leads to games like the one Monday night where one team is sky high and the other isn’t.

  • I couldn’t help but smile at this passage from Rick Telander‘s column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

“I think it was early in the second quarter of the Bears’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night that I started watching the Bears’ offensive line.

“No one ever watches an offensive line. It’s like watching bowling balls getting racked or pigs feeding.”

  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune came through with his best film review of the season. Lots of things I saw. Lots of extra insight into the things I didn’t. This quote doesn’t sound like much but its something I think we’re going to see more and more of:

“This was a game in which the Bears needed [tight end] Matt Spaeth‘s blocking, but he got on the field for only nine offensive snaps. [Offensive tackle] Jonathan Scott played six snaps as a tight end, however.”

  • This is a terrible blow. Via Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The ultimate blame on offense winds up at the feet of Bears coach Lovie Smith, who is a defensive specialist. But he is responsible for all units, not just the defense. If the offense perpetually lacks vitality and creativity, it’s his job to make the moves to create.”

I’m really starting to wonder if Smith doesn’t need to take more of a personal hand in the offense. It seems to me like a guy who can coax defensive players into the proper mindset to make plays so consistently should have more to contribute to an offense with players who so often fail to do that.

“Jay Cutler is not as good as he was a year ago. His mechanics are really bad this year. There was a reason he clashed with Mike Martz — he pushes his quarterbacks hard. You know Cutler does not like anyone riding him. That’s why they didn’t get along. … He doesn’t have tight ends who can play. They can’t pass protect well, and he’s getting beat like a drum. That’s part of it, too.”

“One issue with upgrading over Caleb Hanie as the backup quarterback is the bar was set low. Jason Campbell has experience and is well-regarded, but some believe athletic backup quarterbacks help because when plays break down, they can make plays with their legs. With the issues the Bears have on the offensive line, that makes even more sense. Jay Cutler has made plenty of plays with his legs this season, which has really aided the offense in some games. Campbell isn’t quite as nimble.”

That’s really not fair. You take Campbell out of that game and put Jay Cutler in and you know what you’ve got? The Green Bay game in week two. Different man, same pressure burying them with nowhere to escape to and no time to do it.

In fairness, Biggs does seem to acknowledge this on some level:

“Given the ugly games Jay Cutler has had in prime time, it’s not a bad thing he missed this messy affair. The presence of Cutler alone would not have shifted the balance. Cutler threw a career-high five interceptions the last time the Bears played in San Francisco in a brutal Thursday night loss. Had he played in this game, it likely would have led to more criticism of him from national commentators. Now pundits can pick on Campbell and Smith’s overrun defense instead.”

“If the previous two games have proved anything, it’s that the first half of the schedule was packed with cupcakes. [General manager Phil] Emery has been out on the road scouting in advance of a big predraft meeting next month. He probably didn’t need to see this wreck to know offensive linemen, plural, must be a priority even over a backup quarterback.”

“Don’t be surprised if McCown finishes the season with the team, and not just because there will be elevated concerns about Cutler’s availability once he is medically cleared to return. Some within the organization wanted McCown to stick at the outset of the season but it would not have been a practical decision with three veteran quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Now that he’s back, it could be a seven-week job for him.

“The coaches like McCown and believe he’s a positive influence in the quarterback room. In a short period of time, he developed a good relationship with Cutler and likes working with the starter.”

Chris Spencer, who started the first two games there, will replace Chilo Rachal, who started the last eight. Rachal had a brutal performance against his former team, the 49ers, giving up one sack and a hurry and getting flagged for two holding penalties. On Wednesday afternoon, the Bears announced that Rachal left the team for “personal reasons” and was put on the reserve/left-squad list.

“According to a league source, the 49ers knew how to “get in his head,” prompting Rachal’s poor performance. The source added that Rachal, in general, is emotional and needs constant positive reinforcement.”

According to Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune Rachal “became extremely upset upon learning of his demotion” and walked out. He has five days to return.

“The topic came up when McClellin was drafted 19th overall and he said he missed one practice after a concussion at Boise State in 2010 and had a minor one the year before. McClellin changed the style of helmet he uses in 2011. There’s no reason to believe this will be a lingering issue for him, but caution is a good idea.”

True enough. But I’m concerned and no one is likely to forget that this was an issue that, it could be argued, should have affected the status of this draft choice. Jerry Angelo certainly took his fiair share of criticism about drafting a guard with a bad back in Chris Williams. You coud argue that a history of concussions should have been even more of a red flag.

  • D.J. Moore is going to have a hard time getting out of Smith’s dog house with statements like this one to Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“‘From what [coach Lovie Smith] told me, it was performance-related,’ Moore said. ‘I don’t know. Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do, and go to work every day, try as hard I can and hopefully get back out there soon.’”

For the record, the correct answer is “It was performance-related” not “they told me its performance-related.” I confess that I don’t know enough to understand exactly what the problem is. But I can say for certain that if Smith believes his performance is sub-par, then it almost certainly was and I can guarantee he’s been told more than once exactly what he’s doing wrong. He won’t get better until he accepts coaching and does what he’s told and he certainly won’t be playing as much as he should until that happens.


  • Somewhat to my surprise, Pompei’s this week 23-20. If it was at Minnesota, I’d agree. But I think the Bears offensive line will have an easier time handling Jared Allen at home. The Bears need to bounce back and win this game. Perhaps I’m overestimating their intestinal fortitude but I’m leaning their way this week.

“Minnesota has improved about as much as any team from where they were last year. Having a quarterback (Christian Ponder) being able to play for a year helped them a lot and getting the running back (Adrian Peterson) helped them more than anything. Anytime you have Percy Harvin and Peterson on the roster, you’ve got a chance.”

“‘[In the past] he’d always look to hit the home run,’ Frazier said. ‘And sometimes that would create negative plays. Now he’s truer to his reads.'”

“The Vikings will devote significant attention to receiver Brandon Marshall — as they did with Larry Fitzgerald in Week 7. They’ll also ask the defensive line to create pressure without needing blitz help.”

The Vikings ate the Cardinals alive with seven sacks.

  • The Vikings are handling their personnel along the offensive line in something of an unusual way. Again via Wiedierer:

Brandon Fusco will make his 11th consecutive start at guard but will again share time with Geoff Schwartz. Meanwhile, at safety, Jamarca Sanford will remain starting alongside Harrison Smith but will also cede playing time in spurts to Mistral Raymond.

The rotation at guard began in Week 6. Fusco has been OK at times but hesitant at others, leaving an opening for Schwartz to step in.”

Rotations at guard aren’t the norm in the NFL where continuity on the line is highly valued.



“If I’m a very old woman who struggles to get around, and Carolina Panther coach Ron Rivera and his players offer to lead me across the street, I decline.

“The Panthers would do great getting her off the curb and past the stripe in the middle of the road.

“But 5 feet from the other side, they’d fall or get nervous or forget the woman was there.

“As light turned to dark, she’d be alone in traffic, dodging SUVs, vans and the occasional city bus.

“The Panthers can’t finish. They failed again to finish Sunday. They needed leadership and inspiration and they needed to adjust. They did not.”

  • Breaking news for The Onion: “Andy Reid Cuts Several Players From Mustache.”


One Final Thought

Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times is as off-base in blamming offensive coordinator Mike Tice for the Bears problems as everyone was when they were blaming Mike Martz. Similarly, runningback Matt Forte refuses to admit what is evident to any disinterested observer. Via Biggs:

“‘I don’t believe in that soft schedule, tough schedule crap,’ running back Matt Forte said. ‘It’s the NFL. Everybody is good.

“‘We didn’t expect it to go like that. We didn’t play well across the board. Nobody. You saw the game. We haven’t done anything really. We have to get better at a lot of stuff as an offense. We haven’t proved anything.'”

This is, of course, exactly what you’d expect him to say. But that doesn’t change the reality. Biggs explains in a commentary which to my mind is absolutely spot on:

“It’s not a scheme issue. What the Bears have is a talent deficiency and this is a deep-rooted problem that goes back to the early years of Jerry Angelo’s administration. I’ve written time and time again how the Bears ignored the offensive line in the draft and therefore had no young players in the system. When Angelo made an effort to get one in 2008, he went bust with Chris Williams, now an ex-Bear. This isn’t a new problem and those who want to cast blame on offensive coordinator Mike Tice need to take a long look at the man who bears ultimate responsibility for the offense: Lovie Smith. But ultimately, what the Bears have here is a personnel issue on the offensive line, one that can be a surprise to positively no one, new general manager Phil Emery included. There is no quick solution and that is the answer no one wants to accept. “

The Bears weren’t at their best Monday. But teams that play really badly usually show obvious signs of it that any fan can recognize. Dropped passes, an excessive number of penalties, a lot of turnovers. The Bears had some penalties and a couple turnovers. But none of it was anywhere near what I’d call excessive.

The truth is that the Bears looked exactly like they did for the first nine games of the season. They just got beat by a well-motivated group with more talent that played well – i.e. by a better team. That’s all there is to it.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at 49ers


  1. The 49ers came ready to play and they came out going at a different speed than the Bears. Lots of sharp passes that were thrown on time.
  2. The 49ers came out in running formations, drawing the Bears into stacking the line and playing man-to-man coverage. They then proceeded to shred the Bears defensive backfield. The Bears had no one to cover Vernon Davis. In truth, they had no one to cover anyone.
  3. Collin Kaepernick looked very accurate. Give credit to Jim Harbaugh for preparing yet another quarterback to play at the top of his game.
  4. The Bears defensive line occasionally got some penetration but generally speaking, they were getting pushed around. YOu aren’t going to win many football games if you can’t consistently win the line of scrimmage.
  5. The 49ers established the run and worked the play action very well.
  6. The Bears switched to more zone in the second quarter in the hopes that it would stop the bleeding. They also tried to do some blitzing with limited success.
  7. There were a fair number of missed tackles out there on the Bears part. That needs to be cleaned up.


  1. The Bears came out running effectively on first down. It looked to me like the 49ers have decided that Brandon Marshall wasn’t going to beat them. They were doubling him and simply matching up in single coverage with everyone else.
  2. Jay Cutler might have thrown into double coverage to Marshall anyway but it was evident that Jason Campbell is a different kind of quarterback. He tried to hit other receivers instead. Of course, he had little success since most of those guys struggle to get open.
  3. It didn’t help that the Campbell is a timing quarterback. There wasn’t much of that going on. When he wasn’t under seige from the pass rush, wide receivers like Devin Hester were getting knocked off their routes.
  4. Like many fans I had hoped (and still hope) that Alshon Jeffery will be the guy to complement Marshall. But it wasn’t meant to be tonight as he had a pedestrian game. Here’s hoping his knee injury isn’t serious.
  5. Eventually the 49ers caught on and started playing Forte and stopping the run.
  6. The Bears offensive line really got pushed up front. Both ofensive tackles got thoroughly dominated. Color man Jon Grudent thought there were a number of missed assignments inside as well. Like the 49er offense, the 49er defense just seemed to be playing at a different speed compared to the Bears.
  7. On a related note, kind of wondering what happened to all of the max protection tonight. Seemed like the Bears left those tackles exposed an awful lot.
  8. I think the all time low for the night was a three man 49er rush which resulted in a near sack of Campbell in the endzone in the fourth quarter (it was ruled a fumble with Chilo Rachal recovering in the endzone). Three man rush.
  9. Hey, now. 7:27 left in the third quarter and the screen pass finally makes its appearance. A little more of that might help in the future against these aggressive defenses.
  10. Campbell took a pretty good hit in the third quarter and he was shaking his head. He was evidently having trouble clearing it. I was left wondering if he wasn’t playing with a concussion the rest of the time he was in. The men responsible for protecting him should really be ashamed at the beating he took.


  1. Mike Tirico was his usual professional self. Jon Gruden proved insightful as always. Yet another very good announcing crew for the Bears. Now that five of thier prime time games are gone, we might be seeing more of the B teams but for now its hard to complain about the announcing teams the Bears have drawn.
  2. Drops were not a problem on either side.
  3. There weren’t an inordinant number of penalties and very few of them had a big impact.
  4. Blake Costanzo distinguished himself in his old home with a holding call. In fairness he made a nice play on kick coverage near the end of the third quarter. I note that the 49ers didn’t opt for the somewhat stupid decision to pooch kick to keep Devin Hester from running the ball back. They did a reasonable job of neutralizing him in more conventional ways.
  5. the Bears didn’t get many turnonvers, something head coach Lovie Smith wn’t be pleased about. Campbell turned the ball over but I cant say it made a difference this game as the offense wasn’t moving the ball anyway.
  6. Once again, the Bears simply got beat by a better team. This time it was one that played not just well, but really outstanding. The Bears, on the other hand, were flat.They’ve played probably the best two teams in football the last two weeks and certainly they won’t see any teams this good again all year during the regular season.

    With two road games in domes and games against the Packers and Seahawks coming up, its critical that the Bears rally and win against a beatable Minnesota team at home next week. Due to inflated expectations, many fans are, I know, disappointed that the team didn’t put up a better showing against the Texans and 49ers. But I would contend that this week, more than the last two, is when we find out what they’re really made of.

On Avoiding the Ups and Downs and Other Points of View


“Coaching, or perhaps a front office NFL job, could be in McCown’s future. In fact, the Bears gave him some feelers when they released him in training camp. But for now, maybe for a few years even, the 33-year-old wants to play. And he wants to play in Chicago.”

“Marshall said the biggest difference between Cutler and Campbell is that Cutler ‘likes to run around a lot,’ while ‘Jason is more of a pocket guy.'”

That is true. But the one difference that became very apparent early in the third quarter of the Texan’s game was the fact that Campbell is much more of a “timing” quarterback. Where Cutler is more likely to hold the ball, look around, see who is open and deliver, recievers were getting the ball from Campbell immediately as they turned out of thier breaks last week.

In many ways, Campbell would have been the perfect quarterback for former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who has made a living teaching quarterbacks to do this. As it is, the receivers need to adjust to the new style, something which they did well last week.

“The 49ers will lean on their Tank personnel (one wide receiver, two tight ends, two backs) to establish the run and set up their play-action passing game. Look for schemes that will target the Bears’ eight-man defensive fronts Monday night and test the eye discipline of the secondary.”

I couldn’t agree more. The Texans also successfully drew an eighth Bears defender up into the box by showing run personnel. They then frequently passed out of the formation hoping to get favorable matchups. I expect the 49ers to do the same thing, probably more effectively.


“‘He definitely has emphasized it, just based on how many times (the 49ers) run the ball. Especially coming off Houston last week. Houston was more of a stretch scheme. This week is more of a downhill, smash mouth football.'”

“Had Monday night’s opponent been a passing team, the Bears would have considered activating pass-rusher Cheta Ozougwu. But Amobi Okoye is 37 pounds heavier than Ozougwu and gives the Bears more flexibility against the run.”

  • In the wake of the news that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh had to be treated for an irregular heart beat last week, Kevin Lynch at the San Franscisco Chronicle quotes former NFL head coach Brian Billick on the stress associated with the job:

“‘It will kill you,’ he said. ‘If not, it’s going to shorten your life.’

“However, trying to be less intense has it’s ramifications as well according to Billick.

“‘Part of the problem is, the longer you are in it, to keep your priorities right and hold off the devastating lows when you lose, also means you are keeping an even keel and not enjoying the wins as much as you should,’ he said. ‘You end up in that gray twilight of not enjoying the wins and not showing too much in defeat.'”


“Head coaches do not necessarily need players to like them but do need their respect and trust. The coach has to have the players’ backs. Andy Reid, the coach, certainly does. However, Reid is also in the less friendly role of general manager, signing off on all roster and financial decisions regarding players.”

“This is the major flaw of the coach/general manager model. Although Bill Belichick has been able to achieve sustained success, he has done so with cold and impersonal detachment, often not even responding to player discontent about roles or contracts, further infuriating players and agents. Reid, although a flat-liner with the media, cares deeply about his relationship with his players.”

One Final Thought

Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post points out that the NFL owners around the league seem to be taking a more heavy handed role in managing their franchises. I, also, have taken note of this and, like Pompei I think there may be a number of explanations for it. But if I were to pick the one biggest reason, I’d say it is encapulated in this statement:’

“Some of the aging owners such as [Bud] Adams [of the Titans] and Jerry Richardson of the Panthers, who fired his general manager midseason, may be less patient than ever.”

I think a lot of these owners are getting older and they want to win one more before they go. I have, in fact, sensed a certain degree of urgency from the Bears dating back to the Julius Peppers signing, which at the time I considered to be uncharacteristic. I love Virginia McCaskey and I hope she lives a long, long time. But the family must ba acutely aware that she isn’t getting younger.

Everything Rides on the Effectiveness of Alshon Jeffery and Other Points of View And Other Points of View


“It’s not like we were playing against the 31st-ranked defense or anything. It’s a tremendous football team on that side.”

True that. There’s no shame in losing to the Texans. They’re a good football team that played like a good football team. I thought the Bears generally played reasonably well. Yes, there were too many turnovers and that drives me crazy. But for once that’s not what lost the game. The Bears actually played better than expected in a lot of areas (eg. the offensive line).

When you are playing good competition, in this case better competition, you aren’t going to win them all.

“Despite solid protection, Campbell threw to his ‘check-down’ receiver too soon at times. For instance, when he threw to tight end Matt Spaeth for a one-yard loss late in the fourth quarter, [Brandon] Marshall had gotten open after a defender slipped.”

Question. Would you rather have Campbell checking down or having Cutler throw two or three interceptions inot coverage? Apparently Pompei had the same question in midn when he wrote this:

“On the final drive, when the Bears had nothing to lose, Campbell kept checking down. The situation justified risk taking, and it would have been better to go down with an interception than a series of short passes.”

I lean in Pompei’s direction on this. Still, its debatable. A completion underneath also gives a receiver a chance to make a play with his feet.

“Forte said offensive coordinator Mike Tice is still trying to figure out how to use his assorted weapons.

“‘Once we figure that out,’ Forte said, ‘I think we’ll be OK.'”

It’s Week 11, boys. If you haven’t figured it all out yet, you probably ain’t going to do it.

“There can be no bigger indictment of the Bears offense. The squib kicks looked like a national taunt, and the embarrassment might not stop until opponents get burned.”

“Altogether, the Bears offense started nine drives beyond their 35-yard line. Nine, do you hear me?”

“Here’s how those nine possessions ended: fumble, fumble, interception, field goal, interception, punt, field goal, missed field goal and downs. Drive home safely.”

  • I wasn’t really upset about the hit of Tim Dobbins on Jay Cutler until I read this quote from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune :

“‘You want to try to aim for the hip, you get the legs, the body goes down with them,’ Dobbins said. ‘But with him, he was trying to deliver the ball so I really tried to hit him up high so I can mess up the throw as well.'”

Players are told repeatedly that they have to lower their target. Dobbins admitted knowing that. He admitted purposely aiming high instead.

He should have been suspended.

“Linebacker Brian Urlacher caught heat from some fans when he congratulated Houston Texans safety Danieal Manning after an interception.

“Urlacher wasn’t too thrilled that anyone would question him for doing that.

“‘That was a nice play. I could give a crap about what people think on the street,’ Urlacher said on ESPN radio. ‘Get mad at me all you want.

“‘He’s my friend. I wish he wouldn’t have caught it, but he did, so nice play to you.'”

Sometimes I really worry about people. This really goes beyond being friends. As Urlacher said, you don’t have to be happy about it but I don’t know why its such a bad thing for an athlete to show a little sportsmanship every once in a while.

Manning obviously believes he’s been vindicated. He hasn’t. The Bears had a plethora of strong safeties. He has the talent to play free safety and the Bears deperately needed him there. His lack of discipline wouldn’t allow him to deliver.

No matter how well he plays for the Texans, there’s no getting around the fact that he let the Bears down.

  • And kicker Robbie Gould opens his mouth once again and crap comes out. He had this ot say about the Soldier Field turf Sunday via Jahns:

“I have a year left on my contract. I hope to stay a Bear. And those will be situations that I’m going to take into [consideration]. I don’t know if I want to deal with that as I get older as a kicker.”

Want to cry about the turf? Fine. Join the club. Want to threaten to leave because of it and think everyone is going to run around in a panic and change the situation just because of you? See ya’ later, buddy.

“Brian Urlacher looked like he had a keg of beer on his back when he returned that interception (against Tennessee). The Bears might be the luckiest team I have ever seen on tape. There is a skill to popping the ball out, but only one guy is doing it. Is Charles Tillman‘s contract up? He is a machine. It’s amazing what he is doing this year. I’ve never seen it before.”


“It could get interesting when special-teams standout Blake Costanzo, who rarely goes a game without mixing it up with somebody on the other team, faces his former 49ers teammates Monday night. Costanzo, who leads the Bears with 10 special-teams tackles, was second on the 49ers last year with 17.”

  • “Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga struggled, getting blocked twice by tight end Lance Kendricks. Kendricks flat-backed him the first time and then buckled him the second time on Steven Jackson’s second-quarter 7-yard touchdown run. Sopoaga also got moved out by center Rob Turner on another 5-yard run by Jackson. Maybe the 49ers are not as good against the run as last year because Sopoaga isn’t as stout.”
  • “When the Rams were running wild in the first quarter, inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were also getting blocked, particularly Willis.”
  • “[A] 19-yarder was the only pass [QB Alex] Smith threw that traveled more than 10 yards in the air.”
  • “Smith was blitzed six times. He was sacked once, forced to run once (which ended with the Jo-Lonn Dunbar hit) and he also completed 3 of 4 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown against the other blitzes.”


Adrian Peterson erupted in the fourth quarter. He was the beneficiary of some fantastic blocking. His 61-yard touchdown may have been the best display of well-executed run blocking this season. RT Phil Loadholt did a great job blocking down on Ndamukong Suh; C John Sullivan landed a block cleanly at the second level on MLB Stephen Tulloch; and RG Brandon Fusco (who struggled with sustaining power throughout the game) did a great job in his short-area pull. Peterson is, by far, the game’s most explosive runner to and through the hole.”

“I think Andy Reid is done. I don’t know how he can even want to go forward with what he is dealing with right now. His offensive line is the worst in football, hands down, not even close. And he loved Juan Castillo. I don’t care what anyone says — I don’t think it was his decision to let him go. The move was dictated from above. I understand the reason for it, but Juan wasn’t the problem. It’s the quarterback’s turnovers in the red zone.”

“(Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert) does not like to get hit. He does not step up in the pocket. He throws with a wide base. You can watch a quarterback’s footwork and tell whether he is accurate or not. The good quarterbacks shift their weight like a pitcher. Gabbert throws flat-footed with a wide base — you can’t be accurate that way. The best thing he did this year was cut his hair, but he still plays (scared).”

One Final Thought

Jensen quotes head coach Lovie Smith on injured wide receiver Alshon Jeffery:

“Smith noted that rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery might return for the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.

‘[He’s] making a lot of progress,’ Smith said. ‘I don’t know for sure on him, but we can use all guys now.'”

I’ll say it straight out. I’ve heard fans make excuse after excuse for this team’s failure to perform against good competition and that’s fine. Everyone has their opinion and they are welcome to it. It isn’t like I’ve never been wrong.

The team has its share of problems – every team in the NFL does. For instance, the offensive line play has improved almost every week but you can still expect problems on the road in places like Detroit and Minnesota. But I’m telling you now, the root of the offensive problem – the one that isn’t going away and is going to be there game after game – lies in the fact that they have only one receiver who can consistently get open against man coverage and that’s Brandon Marshall. If Alshon Jeffery comes back and can’t do it, the Bears are going nowhere in the playoffs – assuming they make the playoffs. And yes, I think it’s that serious. That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a rookie. But that’s how I see it.

Quick Game Comments: Texans at Bears


  1. Houston came out showing run to draw an eighth guy into the box to weaken the coverage, then was passing.
  2. Matt Schaub came out throwing high but seemed to settle down.
  3. Major Wright looked like he came to play with some nice tackles, especially early.
  4. Color man Cris Collinsworth did a good job of pointing out early that the Bears were trying to set the edge to turn Arian Foster inside. The Packers beat the Texans by consistently doing exactly that.
  5. Foster is deceptively strong and he’s particularly good at using it to break tackles.
  6. Andre Johnson is one of the best wide receivers in the league, raking in my mind with Calvin Johnson when he’s healthy. He certainly show some skills tonight.
  7. Despite knowing that the Texans were going to do it, the Bears still got caught over pursuing to the ball and some big holes opened up in the run game in the first half because of it. They tightened things up later in the game.
  8. I thought the defensive effort this game was particularly good overall. It seemed to me like almost everyone was taking advantage of their opportunities and making plays.


  1. Brad Biggs pointed out on Twitter early in the game that the Bears were double teaming J.J. Watt with Gabe Carimi and reserve tackle Jonathan Scott.
  2. I’m thinking Jay Cutler was told that when the Texans rushed three that he should look to run through one of the resulting holes. Sounded like a good plan.
  3. The Bears wide receivers really struggled to get open against the Houston defensive backs, including Brandon Marshall who had to fight for every reception. Jonathan Joseph is about as good a cover corner as anyone I’ve seen this year and certainly better than anyone the Bears have seen this year.
  4. The Bears were 1-4 on third down and 0-1 on fourth down in the first half.
  5. Miserable game for Kellen Davis (again). You name it, he struggled to do it.
  6. Despite the fact that the Bears ran out of the double tightend formation and gave them a lot of help most of the game, I have to give the offensive line credit. I thought they did a good job of protecting Cutler and Jason Campbell. And there were times when the running game worked OK as the line pushed around the Houston front. But Houston eventually shut it down and dared them to throw to receivers who couldn’t get open.


  1. I’ve been accused repeatedly of being too soft on the announcing teams that the Bears have gotten this year. The problem is that they are drawing national games with the best commentators. This game was no different as Al Michaels is always clear, Michelle Tafoya is as competent as any sideline reporter you’ll find and Cris Collinsworth, for my money, is the best color man in the business. Collinsworth is particularly adept at pointing out little things a fan might miss, like facts about the coverage that can’t be seen on television. He made another good point when he highlighted the fact that the Bears defensive ends were taking an inside track to penetrate against the Houston offensive tackles and set the edge. The Houston offensive tackles were jumping outside under the assumption that was where the Bears ends would go.
  2. Drops finally reared their ugly head this game for the Bears. Brandon Marshall had an awful one in the endzone in the second quarter. Kellen Davis and Matt Forte each had drops as well.
  3. The good news is that the recent penchant that the Bears have had for committing a lot of penalties didn’t appear. Other than a couple holding calls on Chilo Rachal, the game was relatively clean for the Bears.
  4. Special teams were nondescript but its hard to complain when the other team is afraid to kick the ball deep. The Bears had good field position. The missed Robbie Gould field goal in the fourth quarter hurt.
  5. I don’t think I have to say much about turnovers, do I? From the first play of the game where Kellen Davis gave away a fumble it was a travesty. Awfully hard to win football games that way.
  6. Nice to see Virginia McCaskey looking and sounding so good on her Veterans Day commercial.
  7. The easiest thing to do here would be to talk about how turnovers are death, blah, blah, blah but I think we all know that. Instead I’d like to express how much I thoroughly enjoyed this game. I understand how odd that sounds after a Bears loss but, with the exception of the turnovers, the team met of exceeded my expectations in most ways. Even the Bears offensive line really did a reasonable job all things considered. The Bears defense went up against what I thought was a pretty good offense that played reasonably well and showed their metal.I thought this was a good, physical, competitive hard fought game that any fan should appreciate.

Fundamentals Are the Key and Other Points of View And Other Points of View


  • Chase Stuart at The New York Times thinks history indicates that this will be a Bears team that once again comes up short:

“For Chicago, 2012 feels a lot like 2001 or 2005 or 2006 or 2010, only more so. The defense is as dominant as ever and the special teams have been outstanding. But whether Chicago can finally win another Super Bowl may depend on how the offense operates. With Matt Forte, Chicago has its most effective offensive weapon during this stretch, but in 2012, success in the passing game is paramount. According to ESPN’s Total QBR, Jay Cutler ranked as the 20th-best quarterback before Monday night’s game. Even worse, Cutler is averaging just 5.7 net yards per pass attempt, placing him 26th in the N.F.L. Even though the Bears have a dominant defense, to defeat the Giants, Packers, Falcons and 49ers, the Bears can’t afford to have Jay Cutler play like the 26th-best quarterback in the league.”

“(on how he was able to get into a rhythm in today’s game)

“‘It took a little bit of time. I think we shortened up some of our routes, just tried to get the ball out quicker, get it in the receivers hands and get some rhythm that way. Then when they came up we hit that bomb with B (Brandon Marshall), so it came throughout the game.'”

and Cutler again on his fumble:

“(on his conversation with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates after his fumble)

“‘It was a good exchange. You know, I just tried to do too much and I think he was just trying to emphasize that point — to play within the play, trying to get B (Brandon Marshall) the ball. We had single coverage with him, but timing wise that play didn’t allow for the time I needed. We just have to play within the play, and we just have to limit that stuff, especially down in the red zone.”

Cutler has been saying a lot of the right things lately. I’ll be more impressed if he keeps it up when things aren’t going well for the team. But for now, its still notable.

  • Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune says that Alshon Jeffery returned to practice Friday as the Bears try to force the Texans to prepare for him. Jeffery had no comment after practice, probably because he didn’t want to lie and say there was a possibility he will go. He’s doubtful for the game.

“‘Right now we’re talking an awful lot about our defense,’ Smith said at his Monday press conference at Halas Hall. ‘But before this season is over — hopefully this week — it’s going to shift, where we’re going to be talking an awful lot about the weapons we have and the offensive plays that we’re making.'”

Bold talk. Here’s hoping it’s more than just wind.

“When do you think Chris Conte‘s cheap shots and Brandon Marshall‘s push-offs are going to cost the Bears a game? — Marc, Downers Grove

“I don’t consider Conte a cheap-shot safety. I think he’s smart for making receivers think twice about coming over the middle, and I don’t think he did anything wrong to draw a penalty and fine against the Panthers two weeks ago. Titans coach Mike Munchak appeared to be upset about Conte knocking down wide receiver Nate Washington after a third quarter touchdown. Conte probably could have avoided Washington, but really all he did was run into him and put his hands out. If he really wanted to lay him out, he could have. He chose not to. As for Marshall, he has been penalized once all year, for a false start. Marshall pushing off has not been a problem for the Bears. I think he does it very well and knows what he can and can’t get away with.”


Stephen Paea, NT: Paea very quietly — and very productively — has gone about his business since winning the starting job in Week 2. By eating double-teams and plugging holes, Paea (five quarterback pressures, 11/2 sacks, two tackles for loss) is a big reason for the Bears’ success against the run.”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reports that D.J. Moore lost the nickel back job Sunday. Its notable because he’s pretty good at generating turnovers. But he’s not as reliable as [Kelvin] Hayden will be in coverage and you get the feeling the coaches have been trying to find a spot for him since camp. It will be interesting to see how this affects Moore. His comments were professional but inside he must be pretty angry.

Lance Briggs can still play and he’s playing his (butt) off, but Brian Urlacher is beaten up and just getting by. I don’t think he has played well at all this year, and he’s really starting to wear down. If we were to play them, I’m running it right at him every time.”

“The Bears thought they could get pressure up the middle because in their preparation they noticed personal protector Jordan Babineuax released early to get downfield and cover. That is exactly what he did. Steltz ran a stunt in the middle of the line and the Bears figured he or maybe [Corey] Wootton could get pressure on punter Brett Kern. It turned out [Sherrick] McManis was unblocked off the edge, allowing him to pick the ball off Kern’s right foot. Wootton scooped it up and carried Kern into the end zone.

“‘Normally, we are more of a return team but we saw something that we could exploit them on,’ Wootton said. ‘We went after it. Sherrick wasn’t even supposed to be the guy that comes free. That is why you always rush hard.'”

“The viability of the Bears special teams genius as a head coach becomes a story every year, so, why wait?”

“… Toub’s name and accomplishments will come up Sunday night. You watch, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will talk about Toub’s magic touch and perhaps get to his candidacy to run a team.”

It’s really only a matter of time. Toub has proven over a number of years that he can get the best out of a variety of types of players on a unit which, by its nature, has a large turnover every year. I can’t think of a way to better train to take over a team as a head coach.

  • Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post, asks the question: “Is the executive of the year in the NFL going to be Phil Emery? Or Jerry Angelo?”
  • Sometimes I wonder if there aren’t hero worshiping Bear fans out there who are willing to believe this. From ProFootballMock.com


  • This article by Andy Benoit at Football Outsiders is strongly recommended reading for anyone who wants the small details of the Bears-Texans Matchup and the way they’ll likely approach the game. The article is so good, I can’t quote from it because I’d end up putting the whole thing up.

“The Bears play a gap-control defense and when everyone fills his assignment, a runner has no place to go. But they are so fast up front and pursue to the ball so hard that sometimes cutback lanes open up. When that happens, it’s 10 or 15 yards before a safety must make a play in the open field.

“The Texans have plenty of weak and strong leads in their playbook, and Foster’s patience is what sets him apart. With coach Gary Kubiak coming from the Broncos, it’s similar to what helped Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis have terrific seasons.”

“[Defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli says the Texans like to start running outside zone plays to stretch a defense and widen lanes then hit leads, attacking the middle of the defense.”

“The most challenging aspect for the Bears’ defense Sunday might be staying disciplined against a team that relies heavily on play-action-to-bootleg plays. Last week, Schaub had the Bills swerving every which direction with such plays and one resulted in a 39-yard touchdown hookup with tight end Owen Daniels, a Naperville Central product.”

“‘We (will) double cover [Marshall] every play,’ [Texans defensive coordinator Wade] Phillips said [Thursday] in his press conference in Houston. ‘That’s our plan. We’re going to double cover him every play, so see what happens.'”

“[Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said,] ‘We just need to put a couple of drives together. We need to get that rhythm.’

“Cutler never found it against the Packers and their 3-4 scheme, which is very similar to the Texans’ defense.

“‘[The Texans] present a lot of challenges,’ Cutler said.

“The Packers were able to neutralize wide receiver Brandon Marshall by using ‘two-man’ coverage.

“Essentially, they had two safeties over the top while underneath man-to-man coverage was employed using a trail technique.”

“The Bears believe they do well against ‘single-high’ man-to-man coverage (one safety over the middle). The Texans used that against the Packers at times and were burned.”

Single high or two high, the only guy is is going to consistently get open against man underneath is Marshall. Bennett will help.

Having said that, the key to me isn’t so much the coverage as pressuring Cutler while keeping him in the pocket at the same time. If the Texans’ do that, their defense will do well. If they let Cutler escape, he’s got the talent to burn them both with the run and by buying time and space for the pass.

“All things considered, it’s difficult to imagine anything other than the kind of brawl that’s decided by who makes the fewest mistakes.

“In that case, it’s easier for me to trust Matt Schaub, who’s more of a big-armed game manager, than it is Jay Cutler. And that’s bothersome.”

Yes, it is bothersome. McNeil is probably worried more about interceptions but Cutler’s recent penchant for fumbling the ball could cost the Bears more here.

But I really don’t think Cutler is what everyone should worry about. Its the stack of penalties of all kinds which the Bears offense and special teams both have been committing the last few games. If that happens Sunday night, the Bears are going to constantly be in third and long and they will have an up hill battle beating a good team like this one.


“You want to know what the difference is between winning and losing in the NFL? The margin of error is so small. It can come down to one player — hitting on one draft pick no one expects or finding a gem after the draft or in free agency — that can be the difference between making the playoffs and sitting at home. It can be the difference between keeping your job and losing it. It’s not easy to swallow, but that’s the cold, hard truth.”

  • This injury is a new one on me. From The Sports Pickle.
  • And finally, the NFL mid-season logos have officially arrived. Also from The Sports Pickle:

One Final Thought

“‘I think the thing that eliminates most of (the rules disadvantages) for us is we play hard,’ Urlacher said. ‘We get 11 guys to the football. The ball’s coming out. We’ve got guys stripping the football. And usually when they come out, unless they go out of bounds, we get them because we have so many guys going to the football.'”

I’m going to mildly disagree. I think a lot of defenses play hard. I think what set the Bears defense and other good defenses around the league apart is the very good fundamentals they display. I’m no expert but I know bad tackling when I see it. I don’t see it much with the Bears. They usually play with discipline and its a good thing because when they don’t, they look very average (or worse) no matter how hard they play.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Titans


  1. Color man Brian Billick made the comment that the Bears usually are stopping the run with only seven in the box. That really isn’t the whole truth. The Bears have done an excellent job of calling the correct plays on defense. We’ve heard color men for at least a couple weeks say that its “almost like the Bears know the other team’s plays”. So what they do is show seven men, then crash an eighth into the box at the last second. It really is uncanny how often they do it.
  2. The Bears were getting good pressure from the front four on Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
  3. The Bears linebackers were frequently pressing and blitzing the A-gaps. I’m not so sure that they weren’t actually doing it in an effort to stop the run up the middle.
  4. I don’t think I have to say that it was a good defensive game overall. Its hard to complain but the defense did allow the Titans to occasionally get some big chunks of yards on some long throws including the Titans third quarter touchdown. I know it was with a bunch of back ups in but the big run by Chris Johnson in the fourth quarter also sticks out. At that point in the game you’d think those things would be what you’d be guarding against.


  1. Some good blocking by Brandon Marshall down field this game.
  2. Cutler wasn’t really very accurate this game. Part of that is because he had a lot of defensive pressure on him for some good chunks of the game. Once again his best throws went to Marshall. Its as if the quality of his throws are directly related to his confidence in the receiver.
  3. Cutler seemed to be making a conscious effort to connect with Earl Bennett and Devin Hester but they were having a tough time of it, especially in the first half. Once again, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte seem to be the only two biggest reasons the offense moves the ball. They were certainly enough this game.
  4. Nice run by Forte on his first quarter touchdown. He kept keeping his legs churning until the rest of the team could get behind him to push him in. The Bears were very aware of their surroundings and knew to look and do that. I think that’s probably the result of good coaching.
  5. Cutler’s mobility is such a gift. It was very evident on the offense’s second touchdown on the pass to Brandon Marshall when he bought time by getting out of the pocket and throwing on the run. Cutler is at his worst against disciplined defenses that don’t allow gaps for him to slip through. This Titans defense is not one of them.
  6. Kellen Davis just cannot seem to put two good games together. He looked lost blocking out there at times.
  7. Some good run blocking this game. With the Bears so far ahead, the Titans had to know the Bears were going to run the ball but Matt Forte seemed to run wild anyway.


  1. Thom Brennaman did his usual, professional job. Laura Okmin’s question for Urlacher was really inane but I’ll admit that its probably what the network thinks most fans want to hear. The network did try to make a bit of a theme out of comparing the current defense to the ’85 defense with a bunch of graphics and the occasional comment. Brian Billick was really good. For instance, he had a number of nice comments like the one right before the big return by Devin Hester in the first quarter. He pointed out that the return was on because the Bears were doubling both gunners on the outside.
  2. I thought both teams did a nice job of catching the ball today. There were very few drops.
  3. Penalties were another matter. There was a holding call on Kellen Davis that put the Bears in a hole right after they got a turnover. That eventually set up yet another third and long and a punt. There were a number of holding calls and an illegal hands to the face in the endzone by J’Marcus Webb that resulted in the safety. The Titans weren’t a lot better with a couple illegal formation penalties and an illegal block in the back that nullified a nice return.
  4. Beautiful block for a touchdown by Sherrick McManis. Which was, by the way, particularly well broken down by Billick. A nice return by Devin Hester set up a touchdown.
  5. Turnovers were, of course, the story of the game. The Bears ability to force fumbles, especially Charles Tillman, is amazing. Brian Urlacher doesn’t run those pick sixes back like he used to but he still got the job done. On the down side we had another Cutler fumble just before half time. I don’t know what that play was but guard Chilo Rachal let his guy go and went one way and Cutler rolled the other.
  6. The Bears once again traveled well as you could clearly hear the Bears fans on television throughout the game. Kudos.
  7. I’ve never had so little to say about a football game in my life. It was an explosive combination of the Titans handing the game to the Bears and the Bears being so good at forcing turnovers. I was ready to move on to next week midway through the second quarter.


On Public Ownership of NFL Teams and Other Points of View


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune talks to Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn about last week’s final drive. Since the Bears have gotten much good press for coming through in the clutch there, I thought the comments about the poor Carolina defense were revealing:

“I asked Munnerlyn if the Panthers were sitting in a Cover-2 shell.

“‘I wish it was Cover-2,’ he said. ‘We played a Cover-4 look. They kind of ran double slants on my side and forced me to squeeze No. 2 and … (outside cornerback Josh Norman) can’t play that. You tell a guy to jump that and if he jumps that and Brandon Marshall does a double move, it’s a touchdown. We’ve just got to do better. Even though Coach gave us that call, we’ve got to execute. We tried and we fell short.'”

“‘They were playing one coverage and we just kept hitting them and hitting them and hitting them,’ [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler said. ‘That’s pretty much it.’

“Said Panthers coach Ron Rivera: ‘In the last couple of plays, we tried getting into one of our Cover-2s, and we didn’t get off in time and Cutler completed the throws.'”

“Cutler’s throws might not have been as impressive as his leadership late in the game. More than anything, it is leadership that wins games like this one.

“Asked what was different on the last drive, receiver Brandon Marshall said, ‘Cutler.’

He recalled watching Justin Medlock kick a field goal with 2:27 remaining that put the Panthers up by two points.

“‘I’m sitting here shaking, a little bit of the cold weather, a little bit nervous,’ Marshall said. ‘And (Cutler) just starts smiling. … It just put me at ease right away. The guys feel that vibe and they play off it. So Jay definitely led that whole drive and made us pick up our game.'”

Its nice to hear this and I’d like to believe it. But it would be nice if just once I heard it from someone other than Marshall who is really Cutler’s cheerleader lately.

“On if he feels he could have avoided some of the sacks:

“’I always feel like I can avoid them. Didn’t move as well as I thought I wanted to. I need to take a look at the film and see where the holes were. I kept asking JB (Jeremy Bates) and J-Cam (Jason Campbell) if I was staying in there too long or what the deal is. We just have to take a look at offensive film and talk to the offensive line to see their take on it and fix it on Tuesday.'”

I heard the complait that Cutler was holding the ball too long several times from fans. In my view this frequently was not the case. Cutler was dropping back, his first read wasn’t there and the Panthers defense was on him. They came at him from all sides and there was nowhere to go. That’s a protection and coverage issue not a quarterback issue.

If Cutler had a fault in those plays it was in not pulling the ball down and not protecting it better in giving up two fumbles. It fairly evident that he doesn’t often give up on plays even when he really should.

  • How good has Marshall been? I’d totally forgotten about this chronic issue he’s had throughout his career. Via Pompei:

“When I asked Brandon Marshall during training camp about how reliable his hands were, given the number of drops he had in his career, he said, “It won’t be a problem.”

“He was right.”

I got pretty tired of reading articles this week about Jay Cutler (both positive and negative). I’m pretty much at the point of skipping them. But as worried as I was and am about Marshall off the field, this one from Pompei praising him was definitely warranted. You just couldn’t ask for anything more from a player through the first half of the season.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks the Bears need to develop develop a better screen game. They certainly haven’t run it very well lately.

“The Chicago Bears–that good, or the beneficiary of soft scheduling to start the year?–AC, Fox Point, Wis.

“The defense is for real, without question. All those turnovers (14 interceptions, five returned for touchdowns) are not an accident. We will probably get a better read soon on how much the schedule has helped them because in November they have back-to-back games against Houston and at San Francisco, which have two terrific defenses themselves.”


“‘Gap control is essential, but there’s going to be a free hitter that has to tackle,’ Marinelli said. ‘We usually funnel the ball to a certain area, and guys have to make tackles in space. That’s tough because he can make you miss. And if we’re not hustling, it can be a big play.'”

  • I thought this quote from D.J. Moore via Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times was interesting. He’s got a point.

“[Titans quarterback Matt] Hasselbeck noted that the Bears have been great at generating turnovers but suggested that Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are ‘jumping routes.’

“Not so, Bears cornerback D.J. Moore said.

“‘I don’t think he understands what he’s saying when he says they’re jumping routes because they’re really not,’ Moore said. ‘If you jump routes, you’re going to be sitting on the bench.

“‘That’s pretty much 100 percent. You just play your technique, and if [the quarterback] happens to make a mistake, and I’m playing my technique, then I have a chance to make a play.'”


“The problem that I am seeing across the league is that there are not enough good football people in positions of power. Look at the GMs now — how many have cap backgrounds? There are a lot of smart people in front offices — a lot of team owners and presidents didn’t get where they are without earning it. But you better have some good football people to sort through decisions. Head coaches have their own job to do. They need a strong support structure.”

I’ve heard that Phillips is getting more involved with running the organization. That’s fine and you could argue that its called for given the poor job former GM Jerry Angelo did in terms of administration and management. But I hope Phillips never forgets who the football people are or never makes the mistake of making his decisions based upon anything but their judgment.

  • As frustrating as Jay Cutler’s almost oblivious attitude and the resulting poor leadership he shows can be, all Bear fans should remember the alternative as highlighted in this Audible from Pro Football Weekly:

“‘The fan base in Cleveland is going to go nuts if they cannot find a quarterback. What you have with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy is a serviceable No. 2 and a good No. 3. There’s not a starting quarterback on the roster. That’s the first piece that needs to be fixed. They have to get their quarterback.'”

One Final Thought

This was an interesting thought from Batista:

“The 1 percent (N.F.L. owners) are keen to allow only the 3 percent (Green Bay) to own their own team. When will the time of the 97 percent arrive? In New Orleans we, the State of Louisiana and therefore the citizens of Louisiana, give and give to Tom Benson. He cuts deal after deal with the state, taking more and more of our money. By nature of the deals we, the people, basically own the team, but do not have our name(s) over the door. Allowing only the Green Bay Packers to have this arrangement is wrong in so many ways when the fans and citizens pay for the tickets, stadiums and anything else the 1 percent can dream. Asking you to get out the crystal ball– when and where is the lawsuit filed to right this wrong and get the 97 percent in on the action?–Hebert, New Orleans

“Have never heard a clamor for this, to be honest. I wouldn’t hold your breath. But also keep this in mind: the “public owners” of the Green Bay Packers buy shares to give money to the team. There are no dividends paid and they get no say in how the team is run. They are essentially giving the team their money for an honorary title. To think that somehow a team would be run by a committee of citizens is unrealistic.”

Though I have to say that the Saints rooters are incredibly and willfully blind when it comes to the culpability of people like Sean Payton in the bounty scandal (i.e. typical fans), I will give them this: they are stuck with one of the lowest class owners in sports. So, unrealistic as the suggestion might be, I sympathize completely with tenor of this question.