By Laurence W. Holmes-
HALAS HALL (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:
– A sluggish first half by the Bears offense which has become a disturbing trend. Shout out to Nick Shepkowski for going through the numbers. Jay Cutler’s passer rating in the 1st quarter is 16.7. He finishes really strong with a 118.4 mark in the 4th quarter. I will say we did see the Bears get better on first downs, even early.
Check this out: In the 1st quarter, the Bears had 8 first downs. Here’s the sequence: 6 yards, incomplete, 15 yards, 11 yards, 14 yards, 9 yards, delay penalty, incomplete. So three negative plays, but 55 positive yards on the other five. That’s a step in the right direction for a team that struggles on 1st down.
– The defense continues to impress. In the last two games, the Bears defense has scored five touchdowns. That’s as many as the offense has scored in the same amount of time. It all goes back to what the team is doing up front. With temperatures on the field hovering around 100 degrees, having bodies to rotate on that line was critical. Corey Wootton was the star picking up two sacks and a forced fumble. This is a big season for Wootton. Coming in, he wasn’t assured a job, just a chance. Through 5 games he has 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The Bears drafted him on potential. Injuries have slowed his development, but he’s healthy now and re-affirming the faith the Bears had, when they drafted him.
– The 2nd half of the game was a mauling and the turning point was Charles Tillman’s interception for touchdown late in the third quarter. Blaine Gabbert made a bad throw, to a receiver who was covered over the top and underneath. Tillman got it and headed for the end zone. Last week we chronicled the incredible career numbers for Tillman, but let me add a couple more. Tillman now ranks third in the career interceptions in franchise history, picking up his 32nd on Sunday. He’s 6 behind Gary Fencik for first. If he stays healthy, he could probably break that record next season.
After Tillman’s pick, the Bears loosened up and the destruction was on. The offense found it’s rhythm. Jay Cutler’s crew finished the game with over 500 yards of offense. Matt Forte rushed for over 100 yards and the entire run-game accounted for 214 yards.
To top it off, Lance Briggs got into the end zone again. That is his 5th career interception for touchdown. For a linebacker to have that many is incredible. He has 6 total defensive touchdowns which ranks him second in Bears history. More importantly, Briggs is one of the most successful scoring linebackers in the history of the game. Briggs is tied for 3rd All-time in NFL history with interceptions for touchdown by a linebacker.
What I Heard
“He basically cussed us out, without cussin’.” – Charles Tillman
At the half this game was tied at three. So the Bears got a tounge-lashing from Lovie Smith. Smith doesn’t curse, but you get the feeling from Tillman’s quote, that Smith went after them pretty good in the locker room. Since I’ve been covering Smith, I’ve been told that his demeanor is that of a disapproving father when he gets mad. He knows how to tweak and challenge his players without losing his temper. On Monday, Smith downplayed the speech.
“Normal stuff that I normally go over…not much to that. The guys just kind took on themselves…our guys do believe in finishing strong.” Smith said.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.” – Brian Urlacher
Briggs and Tillman made NFL history becoming the first duo to have defensive touchdowns in back to back games. On Sunday, you and Brian Urlacher saw something that has NEVER happened.
“That’s what’s really neat, when you have a player with great talent and he’s saying ‘I haven’t done enough’.” – Lovie Smith
After seven pro-bowls, you wouldn’t think that Briggs would need to make a verbal commitment, but he did. Briggs told Smith that he was going to work harder. What does that mean? For Briggs it meant, being better in the meeting room. It meant working more with the younger players on the team and most importantly, being in better shape. That’s the promise he made Smith before the season began and so far, I’d say that #55 is holding up his end of the deal.
What I was Told
“Defenses are always going to try and take ‘B’ away.” – Jay Cutler
Jacksonville tried and early on they succeeded. Derek Cox did a solid job when the Jags were in man coverage. He perplexed Brandon Marshall for the 1st half, holding him to only 44 yards. In the second half, Marshall exploded. The Bears moved him around in the slot and he made the tough catches. He had 8 catches for 100 yards in the second half. Most of those were over the middle. Then he got loose and notched another touchdown. It was the second time in as many weeks that Marshall has gone over 100 yards receiving. That hasn’t happened for a Bears wideout since 1999. The guy is a game-changer.
“Sure.” – Lovie Smith
The Bye week is upon us and this was in response to my question on whether coaches can enjoy the time off. Smith will work his team hard Tuesday & Wednesday, then let them go. He wants them to get away from the game for a couple of days and experience the game as fans. That’s what he’s planning on doing, but he did add that no matter what level of football you’re watching (high school, college or pro), you should be able to learn something.
“Without question.” – Dan Hampton
While I was crunching the numbers Sunday night, I asked Hamp if Charles Tillman is the greatest cornerback in Bears history. Tillman now has been a part of 71 turnovers in his Bears career and owns the franchise lead for most defensive touchdowns (8), surpassing Mike Brown on Sunday.
For more Bears information, follow Laurence on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.