By Laurence W. Holmes-
(CBS) Every week I take 24 hours to watch the Bears game again and talk to players, coaches and experts behind the scenes. Here’s what I saw, heard and was told since the Bears lost to the Houston Texans Sunday night:
What I Saw
– The Bears’ offensive problems continue as they weren’t able to get the run game going consistently. This is a bit strange because coming into the game against Houston, the run game for the Bears was one of their strengths. Matt Forte struggled and the struggles started early. Here is a list of the yards gained on Forte’s 16 runs:
2, 2, 1, 4, 1, 2, -1, 0, 7, 8, 1, 0, 1, 2, 5, -1, 5, -3.
Too many negative plays in that sequence. If the run game doesn’t work, it doesn’t leave the Bears with many options.
– When you lose the turnover battle, you’re probably going to lose the game. The numbers don’t lie. If you’re -3 in the turnover battle, you’re going to lose over 90 percent of the time. If you’re -2, that number shrinks to around 80 percent. Not a surprise that the Texans won after winning the turnover battle 4-to-2. That’s why the Bears preach takeaways on the defensive side.
Before he left the game with a concussion, Jay Cutler threw two picks. Kellen Davis had a fumble on a reception over the middle. Michael Bush dropped the ball after a big run. When your offense is struggling, you can’t give the ball away. It’s that simple.
Davis’ issues are much bigger. He hasn’t done a good job in pass protection and his pass-catching skills are suspect. He has not been a very consistent player during his tenure as a Bear.
– The Bears’ defense did a pretty good job. They held Houston to 13 points. That should be enough to win. I will say that the Texans O-line won the battle up front, but it was definitely a battle. Arian Foster busted some big runs in the first half. They did just enough.
The Bears’ defense did turn the Texans over twice, however, as Tim Jennings continues his Pro Bowl campaign. It’s still amazing to think that he came into this season with seven career interceptions and now has eight this season. Here’s how Jennings compares to a couple of the Bears’ receivers:
Jennings: 8 interceptions, 74 yards, 1 touchdown.
Earl Bennett: 17 catches, 187 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Devin Hester: 15 catches, 180 yards, 1 touchdown.
A secondary receiver needs to emerge. I’m surprised that Bennett hasn’t been more of a factor. He only had one catch against the Texans. I never thought the Bears offense needed Alshon Jeffrey this much, but they do. They’re hoping to have him back for the game against the 49ers.
What I Heard
“He’s a badass.” –Brian Urlacher
The Bears’ captain was talking about Arian Foster. Foster only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, but the Texans never went away from him and he got 102 yards on the ground, plus a touchdown reception against pretty good coverage by Lance Briggs. On the Texans’ only touchdown drive, Foster had a big 13-yard run on 2nd-&-9 behind a great block from fullback James Casey, who sealed off Briggs and Urlacher. Then he beat Briggs to the corner for the touchdown pass. In that series, Foster had six touches for 22 yards and a touchdown.
“You don’t get a lot of reps during the week.” –Jason Campbell
Lovie Smith said on Monday that the starter gets 95 percent of the reps. That makes sense to me. You prep the guy who’s going to be playing for you. It makes it really difficult for a backup to come in cold and be good. I talked with a lot of angry fans Sunday night that thought Campbell was to blame. He isn’t. You can’t judge a QB who takes his reps as the scout team guy. All week, Campbell went up against the Bears’ No. 1 defense, being Matt Schaub. Playing against a Texans’ defense that has different schemes, formations and personnel, it’s not a surprise that he wasn’t crisp. That being said, he protected the ball and made a nice audible for a 45-yard gain to Brandon Marshall. If Campbell has to play, he’ll get those first team reps. He is NFL-starter quality, with over 70 starts in the league. If he fails after getting proper preparation, then it’s OK to go after him.
“He ran into me!” –Tim Dobbins
This ridiculous quote comes from the Texans linebacker who hit Cutler as he was looking to make a pass downfield. Dobbins was flagged on the play for unnecessary roughness. The Bears speculate that Dobbins’ hit on Cutler is the one that gave him the concussion. It goes without saying that Cutler wasn’t trying to get hit. Dobbins’ cavalier attitude towards the whole thing was off-putting. He should expect a fine. A hefty one.
What I Was Told
“I let the team down.” –Brandon Marshall
Marshall had nothing but praise for Jason Campbell’s performance. He said that the issues were with him and the rest of the offense. Marshall had a chance for a touchdown and didn’t cash in on it. He had a similar drop against Green Bay in Week 2 (the other game the Bears lost). Is there a correlation there? I’m not sure, but he’s been the only weapon in the Bears passing game and is averaging about 100 reception yards per game. Still, he needs to make that catch in big moments.
Speaking of big moments, Robbie Gould shouldn’t get a pass. In two of the last three games, he’s missed important kicks. The 48-yarder he missed in the fourth quarter was HUGE! It would’ve gotten the score to 10-9. The Bears forced a 3-&-out on the next Texans possession, but the offense was chasing those three points the rest of the night.
“The big picture is that we’re 7-2.” –Lovie Smith
The loss of Jay Cutler is the biggest loss Sunday night, but the Bears missed a chance to be 8-1 and on top of the NFC with the Falcons.
It’ll be interesting to see how this week goes. Cutler has a documented history of concussions and will have to go through the NFL protocol on concussions to get back on the field. Looking at the Bears’ practice schedule, it looks like they won’t practice until Thursday. That could give him enough time to get on the field, but either way, they might want to up the amount of first team reps Campbell gets just in case.
For more Bears information, follow Laurence on Twitter at @LaurenceWHolmes.