By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
That sour taste is back. The Bears just refluxed.
A bad defensive line will always make for a bad defense, and an overpowered offensive line will bring similar results, arresting the burgeoning reputation of a head coach specialized on that side of the ball.
Add in the quarterback regressing, the safeties playing with the discipline of agitated rabbits, special-teams boners and a bad bounce or two, and the stomach acid has returned to the Bears experience. It’s familiar, this bitter discomfort, but the onset of symptoms was rapid enough to misdiagnose it as something worse.
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The second quarter was the game. The Lions went field goal, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown.
Mel Tucker chose to rush four, which meant rushing none. Blitzes of last week were replaced by more zone coverages, and not much worked. Nate Collins stepped in for Henry Melton with little enough success that Landon Cohen – fresh off the street – saw early action, and Stephen Paea was tried at that under-tackle spot. Reggie Bush jitterbugged around over-pursuing, off-balance defenders in open spaces.
Meanwhile Jay Cutler did just about everything wrong when it mattered, torpedoing the optimism that suggested Marc Trestman’s presence was at least a firewall against these meltdown games. In a vintage sampler-platter of his well-established failings, Cutler threw three interceptions: a late-decision pick-and-stick jumped by Louis Delmas, the next a back-foot floater run down by Glover Quinn and the last a plain overthrow after a Kyle Long penalty negated a first-down completion.
He was sacked three times, fumbling once when he held the ball below his waist. Bad mechanics, poor accuracy, and allowing defenders to read his eyes. All that was missing was an angry shove of a lineman and a profane dismissal of the playcaller. He padded his numbers in garbage time, taking up slack with passes under the defense’s shell.
The punting game did no favors, either, losing contain responsibility and lane integrity on an Adam Podlesh line-drive that let Micheal Spurlock bring it back 57 yards to the Bears’ 22 during that decisive flurry. Podlesh’s directional strategy came up short too often, and Robbie Gould’s late onside kick attempt never had a chance.