24 Hours Later: Laurence Holmes Breaks Down Bears-Lions
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.”
WHAT I SAW:
This was a disjointed, 3-phase failure for the Bears. I’m not usually the one that criticizes a gameplan, but after three weeks of imagination, the Bears offense was dull. Forget about the total of 32 points. The 16 that the Bears scored in the fourth quarter was a product of the Lions playing prevent and taking their foot off the gas when it comes to pressuring the quarterback.
In the Bears’ previous three wins, Jay Cutler got sacked three times, threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Against the Lions, he accomplished that dubious feat in one game. He posted a 65.6 rating. It was the type of game Bears fans have gotten used to in his tenure as QB and everyone was hoping that he was passed it. We’ve seen signs of Cutler’s ridiculously high ceiling. Sunday’s game was an example of how deep his floor can still be.
It wasn’t a full disaster for the Bears offensive line, but the Lions got enough pressure to force mistakes. Kyle Long got bull-rushed by Ndamukong Suh into Cutler. It’s the first time when we’ve seen Long lose a physical battle. He can help himself with better technique. Suh got lower than him. So far, Long has shown the ability to learn and adapt. I look forward to seeing the rematch. There were times when Jordan Mills looked out of place and lacked recognition of what was going on around him. Like Long, Mills has risen to each challenge thus far.
Matt Forte only had 19 touches and Michael Bush barely played. Looking back at the box score in the third quarter, the Bears went back to the run game early, which is a good thing since they were only down two scores, but 19 touches is not enough. Through the first three games, Forte was averaging over 24 touches.
As bad as things looked for the Bears offense, the most alarming part for the Bears loss were the problems on defense. I hate the axiom, “Next man up.” It’s a rallying cry, I get that, but the reason that the “next man” is there is because he’s not as good as the original guy. I like Nate Collins, especially as a rotational player, but the Bears missed Henry Melton Sunday.
Reggie Bush was like Hulkamania. He was running wild. Sunday marked the first game in Bush’s career that he tallied 100 yards in a half. Bush average 7.7 yards per carry with a 37-yard touchdown. The Lions dominated at the line of scrimmage and Detroit busted the Bears up the gut with big runs. Even when the Bears had the play diagnosed, they missed tackles and let Bush hit the juke button in the hole. Chris Conte struggled in traffic and in the open-field when matched up with Bush.
Think about this… The Lions run game was so good, they only needed 44 receiving yards from Calvin Johnson. If I told you before the game Megatron would only have four catches, for 44 yards and a TD, you’d probably mark it as a victory.
Unfortunately, some of the same issues with the Bears defense persist. If they don’t score on D, they’ll have trouble winning against the better teams in the league.
WHAT I HEARD
“We knew what they were going to do for the most part and they pretty much stayed true to it and we just executed.” -N’Damukong Suh on Bears offense
Perhaps this is hindsight being 20/20 or Suh being an agitant, but if he’s right, that’s not good. The Bears didn’t convert a third down until there were 47 seconds left in the game when Earl Bennett caught a touchdown. Louis Delmas made an incredible jump on a Cutler throw in the first quarter that ended up turning into a field goal for the Lions. The Bears were expecting Delmas to be deeper and for there to be a bigger window for Cutler to fit the ball to Alshon Jeffrey. On that play, Jeffrey was (as it was described to me) “indecisive” in his route.
If you remember the play, the ball was in the middle of the hashmarks. There was a soft zone where Jeffrey could’ve sat underneath the linebacker and in front of the corner. There was also a soft part of the zone on the opposite hash that if Jeffrey is bustin’ it through the route, would’ve opened up a window for Cutler. Jeffrey did neither. Cutler shouldn’t have made the throw. With Delmas so shallow, it ended up being triangle coverage, but Jeffery could’ve done a better job helping his quarterback out.
“I thought our guys did a good job at number one, controlling where he was going with the kick direction and hang time.” Jim Schwartz on stopping Devin Hester
The Bears had a sloppy game on special teams. All phases. Hester’s kickoff returns were OK (24.5 yards per return), but he only got two punt return chances that averaged 8.5 yards. He fumbled a return too.
Adam Podlesh was trying to keep the ball away from the Michael Spurlock and it didn’t work well for the Bears. Podlesh only averaged 40.2 yards per punt. That’s the gross. His net was below 29. The one punt return Spurlock had was a 57 yarder, which set the Lions up just outside the red-zone and ended four plays later with a touchdown that gave the Lions a lead they would never relinquish.
“I really didn’t get touched a whole lot until I got to the secondary.” -Reggie Bush on Lions run game.
That pretty much sums up the Bears issues against the run.
WHAT I WAS TOLD
Most of my info here came on the injury front. An NFL source told me that Jay Cutler wasn’t 100 percent going into the game. In fact, Cutler apparently took IV fluids before the game. I’m not sure it played into the outcome, but I thought it was important to note. Also, you may have noticed that Eben Britton, played a lot of snaps. From what I’m told, that’s because Martellus Bennett still isn’t 100% after his fall against Cincy. The Bears still need him in the pass game, but want to try and get him some relief when it comes to blocking.