By Laurence W. Holmes-
(CBS) Time offers the opportunity for perspective, so I thought it would be a good idea to wait each week to give my thoughts on the Bears game. The idea being that 24 hours allows for me to watch the game over and talk to a few more people. Hence, “The 24 Blog.”
What I Saw:
– On Thursday the Bears had a chance to put the Packers behind the 8-ball and they squandered it. The type of offense we saw on Sunday was a memory.
– Jay Cutler was sacked seven times and threw four intereceptions. That hasn’t happened in the NFL since 2002. Thanks to Matt Spiegel on the assist with that stat.
– Other than Lance Louis the rest of the line got collapsed. Gabe Carimi and J’Marcus Webb’s issues were obvious, but Roberto Garza & Chris Spencer had a horrible night against BJ Raji and Jerel Worthy. There weren’t many clean pockets for Cutler and when he did have a clean pocket, he made bad decisions and bad throws. They didn’t offer Webb a lot of help vs Clay Matthews and paid for it dearly. Whether the throws are a reaction to the amount of pressure, I’m not sure, but the great quarterbacks play over it.
– Matt Forte’s injury could be a real issue. NFL.com reported it as a high-ankle sprain, which could take a while to get him back to normal. The Bears are better equipped to absorb the loss than they were last year, but Forte plays a critical role for this offense and is not easily replaced, even by a back as solid as Michael Bush. On a night when the Bears couldn’t get out of their own way, Forte averaged over seven yards per touch.
– The Bears defense was heroic for most of the game. Julius Peppers had two sacks: one as an end, one as a tackle. Shea McClellin keeps showing that he has NFL speed. This time he got home and finished with 1.5 sacks. In fact, the entire Bears defensive line did well including Corey Wooton. Who is finally healthy and showing why the team has stuck with him.
– Tim Jennings came up with another pick and Charles Tillman picked up his 29th forced fumble of his career. Since he entered the NFL in 2003, no defensive back has more forced fumbles than him.
– I noticed a trend last night (maybe you did too) and wanted to check the box score. The Bears passed an awful lot on first down. They did it seven times in the first half. Here’s the sequence and results.
1-10 CHI 18 Cutler sacked for -13 yards
1-10 CHI 17 Cutler incomplete to Davis
1-10 CHI 20 Cutler incomplete to Davis (P.I. call worth 24 yards)
1-10 CHI 44 Cutler sacked for -10 yards
1-10 CHI 20 False start on Webb -5 yards
1-15 CHI 15 Cutler incomplete to Bennett
1-10 CHI 37 Cutler incomplete to Jeffrey
So on first down plays where they passed, the Bears netted -4 yards.
What I Heard:
“It’s the same old Jay. We just need to be in the position. Jay will throw us the ball.” -Charles Woodson to ESPN after the game.
Woodson spent a lot of time jawing with Cutler and it’s clear by his response in postgame that the Packers were up to the challenge. In the locker room, Woodson took his criticism a step further: “I think they’re still trying to prove to themselves what they are.”
Cutler didn’t have a lot of clean pockets, but when he did, he wasn’t sharp. He underthrew a couple of balls (one resulting in an interception). He was pressured all night, there’s no denying that, but he has to rise above.
“Maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were…” -Brian Urlacher
The Bears felt like they left too many plays on the field. Urlacher compared the Bears D and felt that they came up short head-to-head. While I agree they didn’t outplay the Green Bay D, they shouldn’t be ashamed of their performance. Urlacher himself is still struggling and looking a bit mechanical still, but he made eight tackles.
“We didn’t get the running game going to help the passing game.” -Lovie Smith
This was the most disappointing part of the game in my opinion. The folks over at profootballfocus.com graded the Bears run game as the best in the NFL last week. Yes, even ahead of the 49ers. The template was laid out on how to go against the Packers D while delaying the Packers O. It’s not like the Packers took the run away. They had a safety doubling Brandon Marshall most of the game (90% according to Cutler.) The run opportunities were there and the Bears were successful when they ran the ball. On the night they averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
What I Was Told:
“I’m sure it will be dealt with.” -Bears Insider on Cutler being vocal and physical with his teammates and coaches
I won’t ignore the pounding Cutler took. He was pressured for most of the game. I can respect him being frustrated and maybe even letting that frustration spill over during the heat of the game. I’m also told that he went over to the guys on the line and told them. “It’ll get better.” He needs to be that guy more.
There’s a long enough cooling off period after the game for him to not bring that to the podium. He pointed fingers without pointing the thumb very much. Those guys want to follow him. They know how tough and talented he is, but the great quarterbacks in this league don’t bus-toss teammates and coaches unless they’re throwing themselves under the same bus.
“Been doing it for a long time, game and practice.” -DJ Moore on Charles Tillman’s ball punch
It’s pretty amazing that every opponent knows he’s coming to take the ball away and he still does it. Tillman has the hand strength and timing of a boxer. To be able to hold up an athlete like Jermichael Finley with one arm and then punch out the ball with the other is fantastic football.
“It was a gutsy call.” -Dave Toub on Packers fake FG for a TD
On 4th-and-26, you’re not expecting a fake because the defenses are playing so well. Points are at a premium. The Bears went for the block and the Packers caught them in it. It was great execution by Green Bay. Remember, it was against the Packers last year, where Toub sprung that incredible return that faked everyone out, leaving Johnny Knox all alone down the sidelines. That play was called back, but it seems like the Packers remembered and had a special teams curveball of their own.
For more Bears information, follow Laurence on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.