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.
- Hoge: Cutler Gets It — No Excuses, Loss Was On Him
- Durkin’s Rapid Reaction: Lions 40, Bears 32
- Hoge’s Notes: Bears Stay Positive After Bad Loss In Detroit
- Bears Fall To Lions 40-32
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.
Three phases outplayed by the opponent, and it’s a 40-32 downer. Rather than a 4-0 stranglehold on the division, the Bears instead have serious concerns, and the first real adversity for Trestman.
It’s easy to look smart when the record is unblemished. To his credit, Trestman has been level-headed enough to tamp down the giddy responses after three games, avoiding any temptation to pick up the bouquets tossed his way. He knows that in the NFL, one outcome can turn Willy Wonka into Willy Loman.
This is about him, now – his ability to continue managing the Cutler reconstruction, and handle internally the days of questions that will undoubtedly reflect some of the overreaction we expect from fans. This can be an opportunity to further solidify his standing in a locker room that seems to want to believe in him.
While so many of us deal with the heartburn brought on by that performance, Trestman will try to keep the team cool in preparation for the next opponent.
A taste of New Orleans might not be the first choice.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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