Pernell McPhee

Bears grades: Which units escape an 'F' after blowout loss in Philadelphia?

Bears grades: Which units escape an 'F' after blowout loss in Philadelphia?

QUARTERBACKS: F

Mitchell Trubisky completed 17 of 33 passes (51.5 percent), with some significant accuracy issues contributing to that poor completion percentage. He threw two interceptions and fumbled twice (though none of those fumbles were lost), and his 38.3 rating was a career low. “I didn’t play the game I set out to play or the game I’m capable of,” Trubisky said. The Bears averaged 2.9 yards per play, gained 140 total yards and had eight first downs on Sunday. And while the Eagles clearly have the better team, there’s not a curve for a last-place team facing a first-place team. 

RUNNING BACKS: F

The Eagles have one of the very best run defenses in the NFL, and Jordan Howard (seven carries, six yards), Tarik Cohen (two carries, -11 yards) and Benny Cunningham (one carry, minus-one yard) combined for 10 carries for minus-six yards, good for an average loss (not gain) of 0.6 yards per carry. On the bright side, Howard and Cohen each had two catches on two targets, but there was no way the Bears’ offense was going to have any success with its running backs averaging a loss every time they carried the ball. 

WIDE RECEIVERS: F

Dontrelle Inman caught four of his nine targets for 64 yards but had a couple of drops, while Tre McBride and Kendall Wright combined for four catches and 35 yards on 11 targets. Some of this had to do with Trubisky’s accuracy issues, but his receivers weren’t doing enough to make his Sunday easier. 

TIGHT ENDS: F

Adam Shaheen missed a run block early and only played 17 of the Bears’ 55 snaps, and caught his one target for one yard. Dion Sims returned from an illness and played 20 snaps, so it’s not like Sims was taking snaps away from Shaheen. Daniel Brown, though, played 30 snaps, which was more of a function of the Bears having to run their two-minute offense for most of the game. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: F

This group did do a halfway decent job protecting Trubisky (two sacks, five hurries) against an Eagles defense that was able to pin its ears back and do quite a bit of pass rushing against a Bears offense that had to pass quite a bit. But the six rushing yards the Bears managed are the second-lowest total in franchise history, and there’s no getting around that. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: D+

Akiem Hicks (two TFLs) and Eddie Goldman (four tackles, one hurry) both were solid at times, while Jonathan Bullard had his most disruptive game of the season (one sack, two hurries, one TFL). A depleted and ineffective linebacker corps was the bigger culprit for Philadelphia’s average of 5.3 yards per carry, but this unit didn’t have enough big, game-changing plays to prop up the rest of the defense. Worth noting: Hicks played 69.2 percent of the Bears' defensive snaps, with his only lower percentaged (69 percent) coming in that Week 2 blowout loss at Tampa. Hicks has been a workhorse on the defensive line this season, but given he was limited in practice last week, perhaps the Bears will manage his snaps a little more now that they won't be playing meaningful games in December. 

LINEBACKERS: D-

Pernell McPhee was largely invisible, only recording two sacks with no hurries, though Sam Acho had a solid game with four tackles and two hurries. Christian Jones had one pass break-up and five tackles, and Nick Kwiatkoski only had one tackle while playing 62.8 percent of the Bears’ snaps. Isaiah Irving recorded one tackle with no hurries or sacks in his first extended un in the Bears’ defense. This unit sorely missed Danny Trevathan and Leonard Floyd, to say the least. 

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D

There was a lot of bad from this group, with Eddie Jackson struggling against the pass and run and dropping an interception in the second half. Adrian Amos allowed Zach Ertz to burst free for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Philadelphia’s first of the game. Prince Amukamara committed two penalties, and Kyle Fuller had an uneven game, with the lowlight him falling down on a first down conversion to Alshon Jeffery in the first quarter. But give this group credit for Amukamara and Cre’Von LeBlanc both forcing fumbles (Amukamara was officially credited with it, though Amos, no pun intended, had a hand in it as well), while that pair each had two pass break-ups as well. And overall for the defense, no unit gets an "F" here because there were players from each unit (Goldman, Acho, LeBlanc in particular) who had decent games. It's harder to identify those guys on offense. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Pat O’Donnell had some uncharacteristic struggles, with his first punt going only 34 yards to the Bears’ 44, which preceded the Eagles’ first touchdown of the game (he did rebound to have his next punt stick Philadelphia inside its own 10-yard line, and had a 58-yarder later in the game). Cairo Santos was put in a tough situation on his 54-yard field goal — his first field goal attempt since Week 3 and his subsequent groin injury — but did connect on a 38-yard field goal that ensured the Bears wouldn’t get shut out. Both Marcus Cooper and Jonathan Anderson were flagged for penalties on returns that led to the Bears starting first-half drives inside their own 10-yard line. 

COACHING: F

We’ll start here: About five and a half minutes into the second quarter, the Bears mistakenly began to send their punt team into the field on third down, then had to call timeout because only 10 men were on the field. Having Santos attempt that 54-yard field goal on fourth and four was a questionable decision — why not let Trubisky have a crack at converting a first down? The Bears were woefully undisciplined, and ended the first half with more penalty yards (36) than offensive yards (34). That the Eagles were actually the more heavily penalized team (11 for 70 yards for Philadelphia, nine for 56 for the Bears) doesn’t absolve this group, and in fact makes it look worse that the Bears managed to lose by four touchdowns against a talented, yet sloppy, opponent.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Film breakdown: Mitch Trubisky's most egregious sack and Brett Hundley's back-breaking scramble

Film breakdown: Mitch Trubisky's most egregious sack and Brett Hundley's back-breaking scramble

The Green Bay Packers headed to Chicago on Sunday with only 13 sacks in eight games, then dropped Mitchell Trubisky five times at Soldier Field. After the game, Trubisky shouldered the blame for that total. 

“Me holding on to the ball, I have to get it out quicker,” Trubisky said. “I have to identify the coverages and we just need to execute as a whole and get better.”

One sack, in particular, stands out because the whole stadium saw an open receiver with plenty of open field around him. The breakdown of that play, which came on a first and 10 late in the third quarter:

The red arrow is Josh Bellamy, who will go in motion to his left on the play. Had the Bears run the ball on this first down, the Packers would've have eight men in the box for Jordan Howard to deal with; calling for what should've at least been an easy throw here was a good change of pace. 

Trubisky flows to his left along with Bellamy (red circle), while Packers cornerback Davon House is matched up with Dontrelle Inman (yellow circle). 

House passes off Inman to safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (yellow arrow), and identifies an open Bellamy in the flat (red circle). Bellamy isn't outrageously wide open, but House is still about 10 yards away from him. Trubisky is pressured by linebacker Nick Perry but has time to get rid of the ball. 

Here's an alternate view -- you can't see House in this frame, which makes Bellamy look a little more wide open than he actually was. 

It's too late for Trubisky to get rid of the ball, and he takes a sack for an eight-yard loss. Perhaps he was looking downfield toward Inman, but a deep throw rolling to his left with Clinton-Dix lurking would've been difficult. While Bellamy maybe only would've gained a couple of yards on the play, that would've been far better than an eight-yard sack on first down. Trubisky needed to be more decisive here in taking the easy completion. 

***

The Bears’ defense hadn’t allowed an explosive rushing touchdown since Minnesota’s Jerrick McKinnon went for 58 yards Oct. 9, and the longest run this group allowed after that was a 30-yarder to Baltimore’s Alex Collins Oct. 15. Carolina’s longest run was 14 yards (Cam Newton), while New Orleans’ was 18 yards (Mark Ingram). 

But in the second quarter on Sunday, Ty Montgomery dashed 37 yards for a touchdown. What happened?

The Packers design this run well, going away from Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks (it's worth noting Eddie Goldman was not on the field for this first-and-10). Green Bay blocks it well at the line of scrimmage, but what makes it an explosive play is happening on the right side of the frame. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson (red arrow) keys on safety Eddie Jackson, while Prince Amukamara (blue circle) is the "last line of defense," as he put it after the game. 

Nelson (red arrow) pays no attention to Amukamara (blue circle) and makes a beeline for Jackson. A hole opens up for Montgomery (yellow arrow). 

Amukamara (blue circle) fills that hole, while Nelson meets Jackson in another hole the Packers' offensive line created between Mitch Unrein and Jonathan Bullard. 

Was this holding? The angles Nelson and Jackson took to meet each other may have made it look more egregious than it actually was. A quick refresher on how the NFL defines holding: 

Use his hands or arms to materially restrict an opponent or alter the defender’s path or angle of pursuit. It is a foul regardless of whether the blocker’s hands are inside or outside the frame of the defender’s body. Material restrictions include but are not limited to:

  1. grabbing or tackling an opponent;
  2. hooking, jerking, twisting, or turning him; or
  3. pulling him to the ground.

Anyways, back to the play:

Amukamara (blue arrow) is too close to the line of scrimmage to make the play, while Nelson seals off Jackson (red circle), leaving an open hole for Montgomery to run through into the open field and, ultimately, the end zone. Amukamara felt he jumped the hole he went into too early, leading to the big play. 

“That touchdown was all on me,” Amukamara said. “I just have to wait back and just fill out where the running back is cutting because I’m the last line of defense. I talked to my coach about it, I talked to (Vic Fangio) about it, and as a vet, should’ve known that, but just being aggressive and trying to make a play.

“I’m the last line of defense, so if it goes outside, that’s me, if it cuts inside I just have to be ready for wherever it cuts and I just shot my shot too early and the running back shot through.” 

***

Newton’s 14-yard run was the longest by a quarterback against the Bears until Brett Hundley ran for 17 yards on a critical third down in the fourth quarter. This was a stop the Bears’ defense sorely needed, but did not get:

The Packers line up with two receivers (Randall Cobb and Nelson) and a tight end (Lance Kendricks) at the bottom of the frame, while at the top, Nick Kwiatkoski is matched up against running back Jamaal Williams, leaving Christian Jones as the only linebacker in the middle of the field. Hicks and Unrein are the two down linemen, with Floyd and Pernell McPhee lined up outside of the tackles. 

McPhee is the key to the play for Green Bay. He's one-on-one with left tackle David Bakhtiari (blue circle), while Unrein (red circle) draws a double-team. Hicks and Floyd (yellow circle) are one-on-one. 

McPhee (blue arrow) makes a move inside, with Unrein (red arrow) continuing to soak up the double team. Floyd (yellow circle) keeps contain. The play is flowing to Hundley's right, so Floyd and Hicks do a good job of making sure Hundley can't move with the play. 

Had McPhee kept contain, and this play could've easy broken down. But as soon as Hundley recognized McPhee's inside move, he knew it would leave plenty of open field to his left. McPhee and Unrein are surrounded by three Packers' offensive linemen, and Hundley has an easy decision to make. 

Christian Jones (white circle) was flowing with the receivers and is too far away from Hundley to make a play. Hundley scrambles for 17 yards, setting up his touchdown throw to Davante Adams that put Green Bay back ahead by 10. 

There was some speculation on the television broadcast that McPhee thought Unrein would make an outside move to contain Hundley, but coach John Fox said that wasn’t what was called. 

“It was just a decision (McPhee) made to go inside,” Fox said. “We weren’t covered on that.”