By Nick Shepkowski-
(WSCR) Another Sunday, another absolute annihilation of the Chicago Bears by a far superior football team.
It was ugly from the opening kick this week and ended with a final score that felt closer than the game felt at any point in the second half. Some things went well for the Bears but for the second week in a row we saw how far this team is from being on the same level as the truly elite ones.
Lance Briggs had his best game of the year as he was strong in coverage and made multiple open field tackles on third down to help get his defense off the field. It’s too bad he didn’t get much help as he led the team with 11 tackles.
Charles Tillman put in a respectable effort in slowing down Jermichael Finley. Finley torched the Bears with three touchdown receptions but when Tillman was matched up with him he was at least able to get physical with the massive tight end and keep him from doing further damage.
Lack of Injuries: A week ago we looked at a team that had just lost Gabe Carimi, Major Wright and Earl Bennett. Granted those three didn’t play and Chris Harris missed his second consecutive game, but one positive will be that the injury report on Monday includes no more names than it did a week ago.
Who played poorly but not God-awful? Having real trouble thinking who fits here…
Defensive Tackles: Henry Melton had an especially bad game despite recording a sack but the lack of pressure Melton, Anthony Adams, Amobi Okoye and Matt Toeaina allowed Aaron Rodgers to consistently be able to step up in the pocket and make pass plays last just enough longer. The lack of quality play by the tackles also helped Ryan Grant seem like the 2011-version of Dorsey Levens as he picked up 92 yards on 17 carries (5.4 average).
Chris Williams: I’ve given the 2008 first round draft pick credit for seeming like he was starting to adjust to the guard position as he showed a pulling ability in the pre-season and had one of the better outings from Bears linemen in Week 1 but Sunday was a setback of epic proportions for Williams who was responsible for the first sack of Jay Cutler and was truly awful in the run game.
Jay Cutler: Say what you want about pass protection but you can tell the concerns are in Jay’s head. He was given decent time a lot against Green Bay but often overthrew receivers with regularity and threw bad passes into coverage on multiple occasions. You can tell the hits are getting to Cutler as he’s been more antsy in the pocket than we’ve probably seen to date.
Running Game: I’m all for the Bears having an offense that can have balance just to be able to keep the defense guessing as to if pass or run is coming but when you are able to gain only 13 yards on 12 carries, 11 of which came on Cutler scrambles then there really is no point in running the ball. The offensive line fooled many of us in the preseason as it appeared to be capable of run blocking. After the last two weeks its safe to say its not fooling anyone, anymore. This goes not only on the line but Matt Forte didn’t show much Sunday, either.
The Use of The Wildcat: Enough with the gimmicks, Martzy. Until you throw out of it you’re not going to fool anyone by lining Matt Forte or Earl Bennett up as quarterback. This play call in the third quarter, deep in the Bears own territory was nothing short of embarrassing.
Craig Steltz: I stated above that Peanut Tillman had a productive game and although not as good, Tim Jennings wasn’t that bad at the other corner. You saw what Craig Steltz is as an NFL player though on Jermichael Finley’s third touchdown reception of the game: a guy who doesn’t recognize plays quickly enough and is more than a step too slow getting to his deep half that is a liability whenever he steps on the field as a defender. He can make a living as an NFL player for what he brings on special teams but his play as a safety was truly horrendous Sunday.
Wide Receivers: I’ve seen enough of Johnny Knox. He put on weight to be able to get off the jam this year and he’s as bad as ever at that as we saw Sunday. When he does get open he still doesn’t know how to extend his arms and “hears footsteps” as frequently as anyone. Devin Hester has turned into a failed experiment as a receiver and had a downright embarrassing moment as he lost his composure during a shoving match and cost the Bears an extra 15 yards. Roy Williams had a truly pathetic drop at the goal-line and Dane Sanzenbacher wound up leading the team with 5 receptions. Not a good sign, this is truly a sad, sad unit.
I’ve seen many NFL games in my life and am still not sure how the Bears only lost by 10 points. It didn’t feel like the Bears were really in the contest at any point and it wouldn’t have felt that way even if Johnny Knox’s punt return wasn’t called back for holding.
After three games, the Bears sit at 1-2 with the very beatable Carolina Panthers coming to town next weekend. To say it’s a must win is to state the obvious but after today’s defeat and to further validate the point, the Bears playoff chances dipped to just 13.5% (according to Sports Club Stats) after Sunday’s loss.
The NFL is a strange league and things can turn around very quickly but the last two weeks have shown us just how far behind the truly elite teams of the NFC the Bears are. Maybe they can turn things around and still compile 10 wins by the end of the regular season but its extremely difficult to make the case that this is a true contender to win the NFC after their last two showings.
Follow Nick Shepkowski on Twitter (@Shep670).