Last night’s 24-13 loss at the hands of the Detroit Lions revealed to me two things: 1) The Detroit Lions look young and hungry; 2) The Chicago Bears look old and tired. The box score of the game is not indicative of how easily the Lions beat the Bears. Oh, to be sure, the Bears had a 10-7 lead going into half time, but the signs were all there for those who were observant.
Sign #1 — Lions’ pass rush vs. Bears’ pass protection. This was a mismatch from the get go. Every time QB Jay Cutler would drop back to pass he would have to run for his life. Cutler never seemed to be able to set his feet and throw the ball; every pass was either off his back foot or on the run. The Lions only sacked Cutler three times, but of course what goes unsaid in the box score are the number of hurries and knock downs; of which there were plenty.
Sign #2 — Lions’ big play makers on offense vs. Bears’ big play makers on defense. WR Calvin Johnson blew past CB Charles Tillman and S Brandon Meriweather for a 73 yard TD pass. Johnson is big and fast and strong. Tillman and Meriweather are smaller, weaker and slower. Then in the second half, RB Jahvid Best burst through the Bears’ defense untouched for a 88 yard TD scamper. The befuddled looks on the faces of LB’s Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs said it all. These two LB’s are future hall of famers, but they were embarrassed last night — twice!
Sign #3 — Bears’ awful decision making and clock management. The Bears were out of timeouts before the end of the first quarter! Why? Because they blew two timeouts on the same series. On a 4th and short in the first quarter, the Bears lined up to go for it and it appeared they were trying to lure the Lions offside. When that failed, they called a timeout. After the timeout, they decided to go for it anyway and came up short. Before the Lions can run the next play, Lovie Smith decides to challenge the spot of the ball (which was clearly short based on the replays) and loses his third and final timeout. I don’t know who’s in the booth watching the replays and counseling Smith on the challenges, but he needs to be fired.
I don’t know where the Bears will end up the season at, but I am not inspired by their effort right now. The good news is that this happened last year after a brutal loss to the NY Giants. The Bears refocused on the run and rattled off a bunch of victories and made it to the NFC championship game. I don’t know if the Bears have the talent right now to be better than an 8-8 team. We’ll see…
The Good: Bears’ QB turned in an inspired performance. He went 28-38 for 249 yards and one TD. Whenever he got hit (which was often) he would get up and keep on playing. Whenever he dropped back, he had to scramble to avoid the pass rush. He kept the Bears in the game by scrambling.
RB Matt Forte followed up his career best 205 yard performance against the Panthers last week with a 116 yards on 22 carries. There were several times he was able to run for big yards on sweeps and off tackle plays. The Bears all but abandoned the run in the second half (not sure why). This man needs to be PAID!!! There is no offense without him.
The Bad: The defense! As mentioned earlier, they looked old, slow and tired. They were gashed for big plays and often were tricked out of position by misdirection and formations. The Bears are 29th in total yards with a dismal 419.6 yards per game allowed. They are 27th in passing yards (284 yards per game) and 28th in rushing (135.6 yards per game). This is unacceptable. We know it and they know it. If this doesn’t improve, 8-8 may be a pipe dream.
The Ugly: The Bears’ offensive line. I know this is a constant refrain, but this has got to be the worst OL unit in the league. The Bears are third in the league in sacks allowed with 18. That’s bad! Last night, of the 14 penalties the Bears committed, 8 of them were false starts. It’s bad enough when you suck at pass protection, but then when you’re put in obvious passing situations because of poor discipline, it only makes matters worse. I know the Bears have injuries on the OL, but it wasn’t like before the injuries the OL was making us forget the OL from the Monsters of the Midway days in the 80’s. Why does T Frank Omiyale still have a job? Oh yeah, because his replacement is even worse! Omiyale was a turnstyle out there last night. I can’t believe we’re paying this guy $11.5 million over four years.
Well, there you have it. The Lions are for real and the Bears look like they’re not. the only good news is that the Bears will host the Minnesota Vikings next week, and they’re worse!
Next: Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field