Bears

Bears' defense back to its old ways

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Bears' defense back to its old ways

DETROIT Once again the Bears managed to keep All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson from running amok in their secondary. The Detroit Lions put 327 yards on the Bears defense and converted half of their 14 third downs but needed Matthew Stafford throwing 42 times to stay close to the Bears.
DEFENSIVE LINE B-
Israel Idonijes sack and forced fumble recovered by Julius Peppers was a huge turning point in the second quarter, setting up a TD on a 10-yard drive. The rush harassed Matthew Stafford with some consistency and forced the fumble and an interception despite registering just two hits (Peppers, Corey Wootton).
LINEBACKERS B
Nick Roach finished with a team-high eight tackles and a pass deflection. Lance Briggs added six tackles, one for loss, and the Bears allowed no run longer than 13 yards, limited Mikel Leshoure to 57 yards on 15 carries (3.7).
SECONDARY C
The Lions found openings for a first-quarter drive that included third-down conversions but was stopped for a field goal. Consistent tackling was a problem.
Tim Jennings intercepted his ninth pass of the season in the second quarter to set up a scoring chance and the overall coverage of Calvin Johnson was excellent again. Johnson had just two catches (on eight targets) in the first half and finished with five for 72 yards and zero touchdowns, leaving him with five for the year.
COACHING B
The Bears offense could not put the game out of Lions reach, forcing the Bears to play under pressure throughout. Several lapses, however, allowed the Lions back into the game after falling behind 20-3 in the first half. Breakdowns on third downs were alarming.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Special teams gave the offense a gift with a fumble-recovery on a Detroit kickoff return and kicking was crucial in a surprisingly close game against a poor team.
KICKING A-
Olindo Mare converted four of five field goal tries, missing wide right from 43 yards. Adam Podlesh was superb with four of five puts inside the 20 and one touchback, all with a 43.8-yard average.
COVERAGE A
Joe Anderson forced a fumble and is a clear favorite to land a roster spot next season, and Eric Weems recovered the ball on the first-quarter kickoff. Coverage units were in position on punts but did allow Joique Bell to average 27 yards on two kickoff returns.
RETURNS D
Devin Hester continued his season of undistinguished returning and sometimes that would be putting it politely. His failure to get the second-half kickoff beyond the Chicago 5 was appalling and gave the Lions a shot at momentum after theyd closed the first half with a TD. Hester finished with a 19.7-yard average on kickoff returns but was no threat to the Lions.
COACHING B
The Bears were prepared and allowed the Lions few seams or opportunities in the return game in a game that was one-score through much of the second half.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: