Bears

Report Card vs. Lions: No A's for this road win

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Report Card vs. Lions: No A's for this road win

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
4:54 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A win is a win and thats what the Bears took on the plane home with them from Detroit. Workmanlike, sometimes decidedly lackluster, but the Bears did manage to rally in the second half and deliver several key stops when the game was in danger of getting away from them.

Quarterback B

Jay Cutler had a very effective if unspectacular game, managing to avoid interceptions despite pressure that sacked him four times and forced a fumble. He completed 21 of 26 passes for 234 yards and a score to give himself a 117.0 passer rating with his fourth game without an interception since the off week.

Running backs B

Chester Taylor got the Bears even with a one-yard run at the end of the first quarter and he and Matt Forte combined for 97 rushing yards on 22 carries (4.4 per rush). Taylor also caught five passes and Forte two for an additional 67 yards.

Receivers B

Earl Bennett caught three passes for 35 yards on a game-tying drive in the first quarter, two for third-down conversions. Bennett led all receivers with seven catches for 104 yards, just the second 100-yard game for a Bear receiver this year. TE Brandon Manumaleuna was overrun for a Cliff Avril sack in the third quarter but scored the winning touchdown on a seven-yard flip from Cutler.

Offensive line C

Cutler was repeatedly unable to achieve rhythm in the pocket as the pressure was in his face too often and flushed him into running five times in addition to being sacked four. Run blocking against DTs Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams was solid but RT JMarcus Webb had problems with end Cliff Avril, who had two sacks at his expense and abused a number of protectors.

Defensive line C

Pressure on neophyte Drew Stanton was next to nil too much of the game, allowing him to gain confidence and let receivers work open. DEs lost containment in situations to allow corners to be turned and the Lions ran for 134 yards, too many of them before runners were hit. Julius Peppers had the only sack of Stanton and only Israel Idonije among DLmen was credited with a quarterback hit.

Linebackers B

Stanton was able to score easily on a QB draw in the first quarter. Losing Pisa Tinoisamoa with a knee coming in and Nick Roach (hip) during the game sent Rod Wilson in at SLB. But Brian Urlacher turned in his best game of the year with 17 tackles and a half-sack while Lance Briggs added seven. Wilsons three tackles off the bench were all contributions.

Secondary C

Poor tackling in run support contributed to 110 Detroit rushing yards in the first half and 134 for the game. Charles Tillman drew a tough assignment covering Calvin Johnson and held Megatron to three catches but one was for 46 yards and a TD just before halftime in a blown coverage among DBs. D.J. Moore had a sack of Stanton

Special teams B-

Robbie Gould converted a career-long 54-yard field goal to salvage something from a 30-yard Devin Hester punt return in the third quarter, Brad Maynard put two of his three punts inside the 20 and averaged 45 yards. But Stefan Logan averaged 38.7 yards on three kickoff returns and hurt Bears coverage units.

Coaching C

The Bears were flat in a game with much at stake even against a sub-standard opponent. Execution was a problem but credit OC Mike Martz with sticking with the run against a fifth straight opponent to help take heat off the offensive line. Special teams seemed out of positions at times and disorganized, and the defense was run over in the first half when the game was close to getting away from the Bears.

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.

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:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.