Reporting Laurence Holmes
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.”
This was a disappointing loss for a lot of reasons for the Bears. Had they won, they would’ve taken over the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff hunt, which means a bye and home field advantage for the divisional round game. The loss drops the Bears to No. 5 and if they the playoffs started today, they’d be on the road Wildcard Weekend.
What I Saw
- The Decision. Plenty of people had a problem with Lovie Smith deciding to go for it on 4th & 1 from the 15. I didn’t. It was interesting that Lovie Smith played against type. He’s a coach that believes in numbers, stats and trends. His entire approach to coaching is conservative. In this situation he went with his gut. He took and chance and it didn’t work out.
What I think it tells you is that he felt like the Bears had a chance to bury Seattle. The Bears started that drive at their own 12-yard line. They had a good mix of run and pass and were trying to put together back-to-back touchdown drives, which isn’t easy for this offense. The conservative play is probably the right call, but I get what they were trying to do.
My problem is the play call itself. The Bears decided that they would run Michael Bush behind Gabe Carimi. That was a mistake. Carimi is not quick or sudden. He’s a big body guy, which is why he’s better suited for tackle than guard. At the tackle spot, Carimi is one of the Bears better run-blockers. At guard, it’s not a good idea. In fact, on that drive the Bears ran behind Carimi five times. Three of those runs were for 1 yard or no gain.
- The defense bent & broke. There were a lot of angry faces among the defensive guys in the locker room after the game. Is 14 points enough to win an NFL game? On average the answer is no, but in this particular game, it should’ve held up. Two numbers that you need to keep in mind: 97 & 80. That’s how many yards the Seahawks drove on their last 2 drives to take the lead in regulation and win the game in overtime. There was also a 94-yard drive to tie the game at seven.
It’s unacceptable and every guy on that defense said that Sunday. Russell Wilson was brilliant. Seattle’s play calling was fantastic. Their offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell (who’s been a thorn in the Bears side for years), did a great job taking advantage of the Bears. Rod Marinelli had no answer for the zone-read plays. Wilson made great decisions when to keep the ball and when to give to Marshwan Lynch. On those keepers, Wilson averaged eight yards a carry. Seattle did a great job using the tight end and sending him across the formation to cut off back side pursuit. They would chip inside and Wilson would go outside.
Coming into the game, the Bears wanted to keep Wilson in the pocket. They failed miserably. To compensate for Wilson’s height, Seattle rolled the pocket to give him easier throwing lanes. Film session will not be fun for any of the defensive ends or linebackers. Whether it was Lynch or Wilson, when they wanted to get outside, they did.
What I Heard
“When it mattered most, you saw him shine.” – Golden Tate
Tate was talking about his quarterback. Here’s Wilson’s stat line: 23-of-37, 293 passing yards, two touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 104.9 passer rating and nine carries for 72 yards. He was spectacular in the fourth quarter and OT.
“Would I do it again? Probably so.” – Lovie Smith
I understood what Smith was saying about the 4th & 1 play, but it just sounds bizarre the way he answered the question.
What I Was Told
“They can’t just keep happening” – Kelvin Hayden
I asked Hayden about the missed tackles that were all over the last two drives. On Tate’s touchdown, three Bears: Hayden, Major Wright & Shea McClellin all missed tackles that would’ve stopped him short. Remember it was a four-point game at the time. There were too many plays where the Bears looked a step slow, which lead to plenty of questions about fatigue. Bears defenders quickly brushed that off, but it’s a legitimate question when you give up TD drives of: 94, 97 & 80 yards.
“I’ll play wide out if they ask me.” -Gabe Carimi
Overall, Carimi was fine at guard. Talking to him, I got the sense that he wants to get back to tackle as quickly as possible, but he also wants to play. He told me that the biggest difference between guard and tackle is how quickly things develop on the inside. The protection for Jay Cutler was pretty good and on plays that it wasn’t, Cutler made it look good.
Watching Cutler improvise when things break down is fun. He made a lot of Seattle defenders look stupid, especially on the 56 yard pass to Brandon Marshall. Oh and by the way, J’Marcus Webb has put together two very solid games back-to-back at left tackle.
“On those third downs, we can’t get those back and it just hurts.” – Henry Melton
Overall the Seahawks converted 53% of their third downs. In the fourth quarter and OT, they converted 6-of-7. For what it’s worth, I thought Henry Melton & Stephen Paea played strong games in the middle of the Bears line, but it wasn’t enough. The Bears defense didn’t take the ball away late and couldn’t get off the field. It’s a recipe for a loss, but Wilson deserves a tremendous amount of credit. He was relentless in the pressure that he put on the Bears.
The Bears tried everything: Cover-2, Single high, Safety blitz, A-gap blitz, Nickel blitz and QB-Spy. Nothing worked because the pressure wasn’t consistent enough to rattle the Lilliputian quarterback.
For more Bears information, follow Laurence on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.