Instant reaction: Three plays that swung Bears' loss to Saints


Instant reaction: Three plays that swung Bears' loss to Saints

NEW ORLEANS — There were three key plays that were critical in swinging the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

— Kyle Fuller was flagged for being offside on what would’ve been a 32-yard Saints field goal. Instead, New Orleans got a first down and promptly scored the first touchdown against the Bears’ defense since Oct. 9 on Alvin Kamara’s eight-yard run. That swung four points in the Saints’ favor.

— Connor Barth missed a 48-yard field goal wide left late in the first half. The Bears should’ve done better to not put Barth in that situation — after getting to the 22-yard line with just over a minute left in the second quarter, Tarik Cohen lost three yards on a run, Mitchell Trubisky threw incomplete and then lost five yards when he was sacked. Getting in the end zone before halftime would’ve been big, but not getting those three points was another blow.

— Then there’s Zach Miller’s overturned touchdown, which unlike these previous two plays, was hardly something the Bears could control. Miller — who suffered a gruesome-looking leg injury on the play — appeared to make a catch on a perfectly thrown ball by Trubisky, and it was ruled a touchdown on the field. The play was put under review as Miller was being carted off, and it was overturned. It’s either a bad rule regarding a catch or a bad decision by the league’s replay officials (there’s nothing else Miller could’ve done while suffering that awful injury). Either way, the Bears had to settle for a field goal, missing out on four points in the process.

You can point to Miller’s overturned touchdown being the difference between 17-12 and 17-17 (had it stood, the Bears wouldn’t have needed to go for two on Cohen’s one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and could’ve tied the game with a PAT). But the point here is the Bears don’t have much margin for error to overcome a questionable officiating decision.

Credit needs to be given to Vic Fangio’s defense for holding the Saints to six points in the second half and forcing two fumbles (Jonathan Bullard and Adrian Amos). Those fumbles gave the Bears’ offense a chance, but Trubisky couldn’t lead a game-winning drive after being given the ball by Amos’ strip on his own 30-yard line with just over two minutes to go. The Bears had two downs to pick up a yard and get a first down around the two-minute warning; Trubisky threw incomplete on both passes, then effectively ended the game when he was picked off by Marshon Lattimore on the Bears’ next offensive possession.

The limitations of the Bears’ offense remain clear — especially as the offensive line was uneven after losing Kyle Long (hand) and Cody Whitehair (elbow) on Sunday. A rookie quarterback making only his fourth career start with an inconsistent-at-best receiver group struggled to move the ball, though again, the defense proved it can keep things close to the best of its ability. But those early mistakes were what really came back to bite the Bears on Sunday.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Urlacher a lock for Hall of Fame next year?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Urlacher a lock for Hall of Fame next year?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered podcast) join Kap on the panel. John Fox is getting all of the heat but how much criticism does Ryan Pace deserve for building another losing team? Plus, is Brian Urlacher a lock to get into Canton next year?

Why Dion Sims' return may not lessen Adam Shaheen's role in the Bears' offense

USA Today

Why Dion Sims' return may not lessen Adam Shaheen's role in the Bears' offense

Dion Sims was limited in practice on Wednesday, but he participated — marking the first practice he took part in since Oct. 27. Sims said he feels “great,” so assuming he’s getting closer to playing on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, that begs the question: What does it mean for Adam Shaheen?

The short answer, according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains: Not much. 

“We don’t want to slow down his progress,” Loggains said. “And as long as he’s making steps in the right direction — we’re high on Dion Sims as well — but we do not want to slow down Adam’s progress that way.”

Shaheen has caught all six of his targets the last two weeks, totaling 80 yards with a touchdown and displaying some encouraging chemistry with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (who was his offseason roommate after the pair were drafted in April). Against Green Bay and Detroit, Shaheen played 52 and 73 percent of the Bears' snaps, respectively. 

The Bears didn’t use Shaheen in Sunday’s critical two-minute drive against the Detroit Lions, though, turning to Daniel Brown instead of their second-round draft pick. Loggians explained that he didn’t want to overload Shaheen with responsibilities after his elevation on the depth chart due to Sims’ illness and Zach Miller’s season-ending injury. So Shaheen was tasked mostly with first- and second-down plays, while Brown became the Bears’ third down and two-minute guy at tight end. 

“It was mainly so Adam could focus in on his role,” Loggains said. “And as he keeps growing that way, we’ll  keep expanding that package for him. But that was the reason why.”

The Bears need Shaheen’s role to expand, though, for him to meet the usual expectations placed upon a 45th overall pick. There are going to be some situations, especially running ones, where Sims has to be on the field, possibly at the expense of Shaheen. But if the Bears were to step back and take a bigger-picture look at their offense, there are some good signs of Shaheen and Trubisky growing together, just as the team hoped when they made the pair their first two selections in the 2017 draft. The return of Sims shouldn’t disrupt that growth. 

“He’s earned the play time the last two weeks,” Loggains said. “He’s played better and better and he had some things on the first level in the blocking game that he needs to improve on that Dion is really good at because he’s played a little bit longer. We do want to play him, continue to grow him, continue to grow him and grow the reps that way, especially without having Zach here. So there is a role that — we’re still missing a little bit of a role that we’re kind of splitting between Adam and Dan. 

“But we’ll continue to play him more, and each game will be a little bit different, how it dictates. But yes, we do see him, his role just like Tarik (Cohen’s) to continue to grow weekly.”