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 is that 24 hours allows me to watch the game over and to talk a few more people. Hence, “The 24 Hours Later” blog.
Today we break down Chicago’s 27-19 win at the New York Jets on Monday night.
What I saw
Here’s a formula that’s familiar: a defense that wins the takeaway battle, special teams that make a play and an offense that limits its mistakes. That’s what the Bears used to win their second straight road game.
When you consider what happened to the Bears in Week 1, it’s surprising that the defense has made the type of progress that it has. The run defense in particular has gotten better. It’s still not perfect — but definitely getting better.
Consider the stats:
Buffalo rushing in Week 1: 33 carries, 193 yards, 5.8 ypc with a long of 47
San Francisco rushing in Week 2: 27 carries, 129 yards, 4.8 ypc with a long of 19
New York rushing in Week 3: 26 carries, 114 yards, 4.4 ypc and a long of 17
That starts up front. When the Bears drafted Will Sutton, most people thought he could be a three-technique who would get after the passer. He’s been better than expected in the run game. On Monday, he had three tackles and one for loss. Fellow rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson was supposed to be the run-stuffing tackle, and he ended up with a sack against the Jets — one that was made off of Sutton’s pressure. Meanwhile, Stephen Paea continues to play good football. He had a sack too and broke up a pass when he couldn’t get to Geno Smith. So those are the guys in the middle of your defensive line. Most of the time their production is hard to quantify, but the numbers support how well they’re playing.
There’s no doubt that in the first three weeks the Bears haven’t played elite passers. Surprisingly, Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel was the most efficient. That being said, the Bears have taken advantage of bad throws. There’s one notable exception — Jon Bostic has to make that interception.
Ryan Mundy came up with a pick and took it to the house. Kyle Fuller continues to show you he has a knack for playmaking. After last night, Fuller leads the NFL with three interceptions and is tied for the lead with two forced fumbles. Chris Conte is in a tie for second place with two interceptions. I don’t know about you, but I would’ve been pretty pleased if these guys combined for five picks for the entire season.
It should be noted that the Bears secondary is depleted because of injuries. Monday was the second game in which Jon Hoke has had to coach up a player who hadn’t play in this defense outside of practice. What happens when the Bears take on a team that can take advantage? We might find out Sunday.
What I heard
“That’s completely awful.” –Rex Ryan on Jets’ red-zone efficiency
The Jets got to the red zone six times but only got one touchdown out of it. Again, I wonder what happens when the Bears see a more competent quarterback, but they still found a way to get off the field. So does it really matter who it was against?
“I thought he stood in there, played tough, as he always does.” — Bears coach Marc Trestman on Jay Cutler handling pressure
This game wasn’t pretty offensively. The Bears are still struggling to run the ball, and that makes things for your passing game rough. Ryan threw a bunch of different looks at the Bears offensive line. They got home a few times too, but for the most part Cutler was rock solid under pressure. The numbers from Pro Football focus back it up. Cutler had an accuracy rate of 85.7 when under pressure, and he he was blitzed on 18 dropbacks and pressured on 13.
Cutler’s now played eight games with the Bears on Monday Night Football. In that span, he’s 7-1. He’s thrown for 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions and has a QB rating of 99.7.
So I guess in regards to the whole “night diabetes” thing, we can throw out the window.
“Matt had some tough runs there at the end.” — Cutler on running back Matt Forte
Cutler is right. Forte had four carries for 21 yards and kept the chains moving on the fourth-quarter field goal drive that put the Bears up 27-19. The problem is that Forte had 33 yards for the entire game. Forte does so much for this offense that you don’t want to diminish his importance, but the Bears run game has not got going. He’s averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
“We’re not playing fast enough on offense … 51 plays is not enough to get defense tired.” — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Green Bay’s offensive problems
I caught a bit of Rodgers’ radio show. Expect high-tempo, no-huddle stuff from the Packers on Sunday as they try and find a rhythm. I believe the problem might be bigger and scarier for Green Bay. Watching Rodgers the last two weeks, he hasn’t had his fastball. He’s looked like Justin Verlander. In the last two games, he’s underthrown 11 passes. Makes me wonder if something is wrong with him.
What I was told
“They got it right with Fuller!” — former Bears defensive lineman Alex Brown
Like a lot of people, Brown thought the Bears needed to draft a safety. So far the drafting of Fuller looks brilliant. Fuller gets it. He’s poised and ready. It was hard not to smirk while watching him employ Charles Tillman’s “Peanut Punch” and forcing two fumbles. He seems comfortable in coverage, and if he can add that to his repertoire, the sky is the limit.
“One of leaders of the team kicked the coaches out of the meeting room and had pow wow with the players.” — Anonymous Bears source
A Bears source of mine tells me that before the 49ers game, one of the veterans felt it was necessary to discuss some issues that were going on with the team. I’m not a fan of too many of these going on in a season, but it seems like this one may have had some impact.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.