By Laurence Holmes-
NEW ORLEANS (CBS) — The balance, protection and production that the Bears saw last week vs. the Falcons was absent against the Saints. Gregg Williams and the New Orleans defense brought continuous pressure and it put the Bears on their heels.
“A lot of times they were sending more guys than we could block. We gotta hit the hot routes, but sometimes we would throw the ball and they’d be right on the hot routes. On some of the plays like that when they’re blitzing, we gotta hurt em with the pass so they’ll stop blitzing,” Matt Forte said.
The Bears struggled to protect their quarterback. Jay Cutler was sacked 6 times for 58 yards. The stat sheet says officially, he was hit a total of 10 times, but there were plenty of other shots that weren’t recorded.
“I got kicked in the throat at the start of the third quarter,” Cutler said.
It’s the type of pounding Lovie Smith doesn’t want Cutler to take.
“Jay and the rest of our team, didn’t play well today. There are a lot of things that happened that we can’t let continue throughout the season,” Smith said.
The pressure on Cutler was the turning point of the game. With the Bears trailing by 3, Cutler was mauled by Turk McBride. McBride beat Kellen Davis off the edge, who has struggled with blocking edge rushers in the 1st two contests. McBride sacked Cutler and forced a fumble.
“The defense was hanging tough, we put them in a bad spot with that turnover deep in our own territory. Anytime you do that it’s going to be tough to win football games,” Cutler said.
The Saints turned that takeaway right around and scored a touchdown 5 plays later. It changed the whole game.
“That turnover really hurt us there. Can’t make those kind of mistakes against a good football team,” Smith said.
From there the game seemed to snowball on the Bears. How bad was it? Well, in the second half the Bears had 35 offensive plays. In 21 of those the Bears had either: no gain, an incomplete, turnover or negative yardage (and I didn’t even add the penalties). That’s not a strong showing from a team who a week ago looked to have the offense headed in the right direction.
Once the Bears got down by 10, they felt they needed to throw the ball to get back into the game. The Saints through the entire book at Cutler and crew. They used 3-4 shells. They used 4-3 shells. They’d have 7 guys walk up to the line of scrimmage. They ran zone blitzes, A-gap blitzes, corner and safety blitzes. Saints safety, Roman Harper had a huge impact on the game. He sacked Cutler twice and forced a fumble to go along with 7 tackles. Williams stayed aggressive sending six, seven and sometimes eight rushers to pressure the bears and it worked.
“I thought we were gonna have some of that stuff (blitz) picked up. We just have to look at the film. We don’t want to blame anyone at this point,” Cutler said.
The offense’s balance fell out of whack and the Bears got pass-happy. That’s fine if you can protect it. On Sunday, the Bears couldn’t and now find themselves 1-1.
So there are a lot of questions going forward for this offense. Included in that is depth. Gabe Carimi left the game with a knee injury. That means two of the guys that started the season (Carimi and Lance Louis), haven’t finished a game together.
Did the Saints open up a Pandora’s box on game-planning the Bears? When the Falcons blitzed, the Bears beat them for big plays, but the Saints threw overloads and numbers games at the Bears and the protection crumbled. Until the Bears prove they can consistently keep their quarterback upright, they’ll continue to see blitzes from all angles.
It doesn’t get any easier next week. Bears-Packers games are usually close games, but you’d have to believe that Dom Capers will be licking his chops looking at the tape. The scary thing for the Bears is that Green Bay is infinitely more talented on defense than New Orleans. Part of the reason that the Saints blitz so much is because they don’t have great talent up front. The Packers do. The Bears will have to make a lot of corrections between now and next Sunday if the they don’t want a repeat of what happened in the Bayou.