A number of positives from the past two weeks went the other direction, with the Bears taking the Detroit Lions to overtime but making myriad mistakes that seemed out of phase with the recent past.
For one thing, the Bears appeared to shrink in overtime with two three-and-out possessions that each began with a Matt Forte run when the Lions had limited Forte to 3.1 yards per carry through the four regular periods. The Bears in fact were three-and-done in three of their last four possessions, the exception being the four-play drive for the game-tying field goal when the offense pushed the ball downfield.
“(Running the football in that late-game situation) is pretty standard,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “You want to get them to burn all their timeouts. We felt good about the runs.”
The reality is that the Bears did score 34 points despite just three touchdowns in eight red-zone trips and several short fields with which to work after takeaways by the defense and special teams.
“We scored 34 points,” said coach John Fox. “In this league, that’s usually enough. Today it wasn’t.”
The reason was on defense. Forget the carnage wrought by Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford and Detroit’s passing offense of 405 yards. More alarming was the NFL’s worst rushing offense (49 yards per game) trampling the Bears for 155 ground yards (4.8 per carry). The Bears were repeatedly out of alignments and assignments, missed tackles, left areas of the field open and generally were not entirely ready to play at the level of the Lions.
Players are professionals and responsible for their own preparations, but the Bears admitted to not being properly prepared with intensity. “The defense has got to pick it up and match their intensity,” defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins said.
Coordinator Vic Fangio’s schemes are consistently solid and players’ execution was ultimately at issue vs. the Lions. But coaches assume accountability for the overall, and the Bears being thrashed in so many areas falls on the top as well as the players.
The offense did net season-highs of 444 total yards and 34 points. But the offense stagnated inside the Detroit 20 and also failed to attack the Lions late.
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Adam Gase schemed to put early pressure on a depleted Detroit front seven, going with no-huddle on of the Bears’ first seven plays. He also unveiled a goal-line play using defensive tackle Mitch Unrein as a lead blocker for Jeremy Langford in a formation somewhere between a wishbone and offset-I, getting Langford in for a second-quarter touchdown.
Special teams coverage was generally excellent and in position to capitalize on two mishandled punts.
Moon's Grade: C