Bears

Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

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Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2010
8:30 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The offense managed just three points against a good defense but missed too many opportunities, particularly on throws by Jay Cutler. In a tight game one or two plays are the difference and the offense that made them the past couple weeks did little of that this time. The defense created chances but had a breakdown or two - too many in a game where there was no margin for error.

Quarterback D-
Cutler had one of his poorer games of the season, posting a 43.5 passer rating that was his third-worst of the year. Cutler wasted a scoring chance when he threw an interception in the third quarter, underthrowing Johnny Knox badly in a situation where anything but an underthrow was acceptable. He was sacked six times but was never in synch with the overall offense, completing 21 of 39 passes for 168 yards but taking 51 yards in sacks.

Running back B

Matt Forte breezed past 1,000 rushing yards in the first quarter with runs of 25 and 21 yards and added a 27-yard reception in the second quarter. Forte added four pass receptions in just the first half and finished with a game-high eight receptions on eight passes thrown to him. Fortes 91 rushing yards came on 15 carries for a 6.1 average. Chester Taylor had limited impact (11 yards) on his three carries.
Receivers D

Rashied Davis made something of his chances with Earl Bennett inactive, catching all four of the passes thrown to him in the first half and finishing with a career-high seven catches for 63 yards. Knox was held without a catch for the first time all season, leaving him 40 yards short of 1,000 for the year. Greg Olsen made several difficult grabs among his five catches but only Davis and Devin Hester (one) caught passes among wide receivers, who were not open often enough for Cutler to get rid of the ball with purpose.

Offensive line D

The group got Forte his 1,000 yards in the first half but struggled against an aggressive 3-4 front that blitzed and sacked Cutler six times for 51 yards in losses. Six different Packers had at least a share of a sack. The line was not able to gain any control of the line of scrimmage to the point of sustaining some offense. The Bears had 8 out of 13 possessions on which they failed to pick up a first down. LT Frank Omiyale was beaten for a blind-side sack in the second quarter but the Packers created some coverage sacks. Cutler, however, did his line no favors by not getting the ball out of his hands.

Defensive line C

Henry Melton shared a sack and provided solid pressure. Tommie Harris sack in the third quarter prevented a TD after a first-and-goal from the one and Harris added a tackle for loss and quarterback hit. But the line was credited with just two quarterback hits overall, although the Packers were limited to 2.6 yards per carry.
Linebackers B

Brian Urlacher had a half-sack in the first half and a quarterback hit. Lance Briggs was credited with nine tackles. Pisa Tinoisamoa was forced to play the full way after an injury to Nick Roach and performed well.

Secondary B

Charles Tillman intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, the latter forced by D.J. Moore. Zackary Bowman got some playing time in the fourth quarter but was beaten for a 46-yard completion to Greg Jennings to set up a Green Bay TD. Tillman and Tim Jennings had pass deflections but Aaron Rodgers threw for 229 yards and had completions to nine different receivers.
Special teams B-

Brad Maynard put two punts out of bounds inside the Green Bay 20 and averaged 45.5 yards in difficult conditions. Robbie Gould accounted for the games first points with a 30-yard field goal. Sloppy punt coverage allowed Tramon Williams a 40-yard return to the Chicago 44 in the third quarter. Hester had punt returns of 16 and 19 yards but Danieal Manning was held to 31 total yards on two kickoff returns.

Coaching B

The Bears were ready to play in a game that meant virtually nothing beyond a tuneup by kickoff time. The defense was aggressive and disruptive and the offense produced four plays of 20-plus yards in just the first half. Execution failed in several situations and the Packers made several calls that went directly into vulnerable areas of the Bears play. But a creditable job of motivation was done in a situation where a letdown was very possible.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.