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 Green Bay Packers Sunday:
It’s hard to believe that just three weeks ago, the Bears could’ve been sitting in the #2 spot in the NFC playoff chase, but alas, they’ve lost three-straight and five out of their last six. Now they find themselves on the outside looking in and need to get some help if they wanna make the playoffs.
As things continue to spiral downward, I’m told that support inside the locker room for Mike Tice as offensive coordinator is at an all-time low. There are some who are wondering if making a move to Jeremy Bates might be the best thing for the offense, even at this late date.
What I Saw
– Another week where the the offense looks anemic. The Bears’ first drive looked great. You can tell that they wanted to make a commitment to the run and try to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. That makes a lot of sense. They ran the ball on seven of their first eight plays. The turning point came on 2nd & 1. Matt Forte got stuffed for no gain, forcing a 3rd & 1. That’s when Roberto Garza got called for a false start. The 3rd & 1 turned into a 3rd & 6. It was a drive killer. Forte had a bunch of chances in short yardage yesterday and didn’t make big plays. I’ve always fought the fight that he’s a top 5 back. I can fight that battle no longer.
The Packers figured out that the Bears were trying to be a run first offense and adjusted. They started stacking the line with five guys, playing Clay Matthews off the ball. Mike Tice didn’t counter and the Bears ended up with 190 net yards of offense. Matthews was a menace that the Bears couldn’t stop. He had two sacks, four tackles for loss and broke up a pass. Dom Capers lines him up in different places, runs him on stunts and the Bears offensive line can’t find him.
– Not having Tim Jennings made a big difference. With Jennings out, the Bears played Kelvin Hayden at corner and DJ Moore at nickel. Both guys had a bad day in man coverage. Hayden looked a step slow and Moore kept peeking into the backfield on play-action. The result was five catches for 60 yards and three touchdowns for James Jones. The Bears’ pressure was good, but not consistent. Every time I watch Rodgers, I come away more impressed. He’s very poised, doesn’t get flustered and always seems to make the right play. Sometimes that means taking a sack or throwing it away.
He completed 64 percent of his passes and ended up with a 116.8 rating. When you see the back shoulder throw he made on James’ third touchdown, you realize that you’re watching next-level quarterbacking.
What I Heard
“Everyone in the offense should be held accountable, even if that means jobs.” -Brandon Marshall
Marshall was frustrated after the game and with good reason. No other receivers or tight ends caught a pass. Yes, you read that right. Cutler had 12 completions: six to Marshall, five to Forte and the screen pass to Armando Allen. It’s true that Alshon Jeffrey drew 58 yards in defensive penalties, but he gave those yards back in OPI calls. All season the offense has been sluggish. It lacks rhythm. The Bears had to burn a couple of timeouts because of plays not getting in on time and Marshall’s thoughts lead to some interesting questions about accountability.
If players continually show that they aren’t getting the job done, they’re replaced. “Next man up” is what we hear whether it’s injury or ineffective play. Shouldn’t the same standard be used for coaches?
“Well the slant play is really the starting point of our offense.” – Mike McCarthy
Green Bay carved up the Bears with slants. That’s where Rodgers’ accuracy is such a weapon. They can march up and down the field on slants alone and the Bears weren’t able to stop them. Moore’s play was particularly troubling because he had a chance to get back in the good graces of the coaches with a solid game. He didn’t. At times it looked like the Packers were specifically targeting him because his technique was so bad.
The sad part is that on a conference call with the media last year, Rodgers singled Moore out as a player that deserved more praise. The Bears nickelback has seen his performance slide and has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff since then.
“You know, it came out of my hands. I’m responsible.” – Jay Cutler
The interception at the end of the first half was the beginning of the end for the Bears. You could feel that the Packers were going to get points. It was a tied game and the only thing that could’ve crushed the Bears “momentum” was a turnover.
I’ve had people tell me that it was Hester’s fault and others that have said Cutler was to blame. On the play, Cutler double pumps. Perhaps Hester’s route wasn’t as clean as you’d like, but Hayward had already jumped it. After the pump, Hester broke to the empty space in the zone, while he’s breaking the route, Cutler threw it anyway. I can see where both players are at fault, but no matter who was, the result set up a cascading chain of events that spelled doom for the Bears chances.
“I am not going to put it all on the refs.” – Alshon Jeffrey
Jeffrey was flagged for three offensive pass interference penalties. I thought two were good calls. The other one was a bit questionable and the officials missed a clear DPI on Sam Shields towards the end of the game.
What Jeffrey has to learn is that if he is going to push off (like Brandon Marshall does and gets away with), he can’t do it with full-extension of his arms. He has to get craftier and learn how use his elbows and hands to create space. Because of his size, he’s a target for OPI calls. He’ll learn and adapt, but those were hard penalties for the Bears offense to play over.
“On the goal line, the offensive line has got to get movement.” – Matt Forte
I was disappointed to hear Forte say this. To be fair, Roberto Garza backed this statement, but Forte put the onus on the line when he’s just as much to blame. This year for whatever reason, Forte has not done a good enough job of squaring up to the line of scrimmage. It was on display again in this game. Sometimes you have to power through and in his career, he hasn’t shown that he can do that. That’s why the Bears brought in: Chester Taylor, Marion Barber and Michael Bush. Speaking of Bush…
He was active yesterday, but was never going to see the field. In fact, the Bears had four players that dressed who didn’t play. That’s because they’re really banged up. The Bears had to dress 46 players, but right now they don’t have 46 healthy bodies to put out there.
What I Was Told
“Some guys will fold. Some guys will bend. Some guys will step up.” – Charles Tillman
I kept thinking about this quote as the game was going on. Tillman said this to me on Tuesday during our show. Everyone saw that he was dead-on in his assessment. The question now is how to get less guys folding and more guys stepping up.
“I came here to win…now!” – Brandon Marshall
To say Marshall was disappointed about yesterday’s outcome is an understatement. He doesn’t want to waste what the defense has done this season. For him it’s simple, the offense has to do better. Yesterday, the Bears had 67 yards in the second half of the game. They’ve averaged 14 points a game in their last six games and a bit under 12 points a game in their last five losses.
For more Bears information, follow Laurence on Twitter at @LaurenceWHolmes.