Bears

15 on 6: Moving past the New England massacre

338814.jpg

15 on 6: Moving past the New England massacre

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
10:05 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Sunday's score would lead you to believe the Patriots are head and shoulders above the Chicago Bears.

The reality is, in key situations the Patriots are better, but in talent, they are not. The Bears missed out on an opportunity to show the league how good a team they really are.

Where it went wrong

I mentioned in the pregame blog the Bears needed to run the ball utilizing three tight end or "heavy sets," and they came out on their opening drive with that exact personnel grouping and were moving the ball on the ground. The key situation where they failed was on 3rd-and-1 to keep the drive alive.

Again, they needed to weather the storm (literally) by the Patriots offense to keep pace until Tom Brady made a mistake. Instead, Greg Olsen misses his critical kickout block on New England cornerback Devin McCourty. If the 265-pound TE hammers the 190-pound CB, the Bears are looking at a house call to the end zone for Matt Forte.

The Bears were out of this personnel grouping as soon as Johnny Knox's fumble was returned for a touchdown, and in a heartbeat, trailed 21-0.

Chicago did force three Brady mistakes, but did not make the play to capitalize. Defensively, The Bears mixed up their coverages between single safety man coverage with blitz, single safety cover-3, and their staple Tampa-2.

That is realistically about all you can do against QB's the caliber of Brady or Peyton Manning. Unfortunately, the Bears defense was unable to squeeze what could have been three key interceptions.

Frustrated

Jay Cutler seemed to get frustrated after the Knox drop on 3rd-and-18. Martz dialed up a dash play to move the pocket, Jay rolled right and delivered a perfect throw to Knox who has to make the play. Jay already knew the game was lost after that play.

It was the last drive where they realistically had a chance to get back in the game and it was only the middle of the second quarter. Jay must regroup this offense to get them focused on the task at hand in Minnesota - or wherever that game will be played if the Metrodome isn't fixed in time.

They have a chance to lock up the division with a win over the Vikings and a Green Bay loss in New England. He must take care of business under the lights next Monday night.

Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

matt-nagy-washington-redskins.jpg
USA Today

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

During the critical fourth-quarter Oakland Raiders drive for a game-winning touchdown, one former Pro Bowl’er and NFL observer remarked to this writer that he was surprised to see a lot of hands on hips and mouth-breathing by members of the Bears defense – two common signs of being gassed.

Critiquing conditioning – or lack of – is problematic the way judging pain tolerance is. And if the Raiders score were an isolated incident, the question likely doesn’t come up.

But something is amiss. While the Bears defense remains among the NFL’s best, at least statistically, a shadow of concern is falling over the defense and its ability to close out games that it has within its reach.

The Bears held fourth-quarter leads over Denver and Oakland and allowed go-ahead touchdowns. They were rescued by Eddy Piñeiro’s 53-yard field goal in the final second. No such rescue in London.

Fully half of the eight touchdowns scored by Bears opponents in 2019 have come in fourth quarters. (The Bears themselves have not scored a single TD in any fourth quarter this season, but that’s a separate discussion.) By contrast, last season the defense did not allow a fourth-quarter touchdown in any of the final five regular-season games.

The temptation is to look only at the numbers, which are in fact positive. Even with the 24 points the Raiders scored against them in London, the Bears ranked second only to New England in scoring stinginess (13.8 ppg.) and fifth in yardage allowed (312 ypg.).

But the Bears have 17 sacks as a team; only three of those have come in fourth quarters.

Opposing quarterbacks have passed at an 81.3 rating in first halves; they are throwing at a 91.4 clip in second halves.

The defense has allowed 16 first downs in first quarters; 21 in seconds; 20 in thirds.

In 2019 fourth quarters, 34 first downs allowed.

Pulling the camera back for a wider view, extending back to include the disturbing 2018 playoff loss:

Vs. Philadelphia
Eagles drive 60 yards in 12 plays and nearly 4 minutes to score game-winning TD with :56 remaining. Cody Parkey’s double-doink overshadows fact that Bears defense forces Eagles into only two third downs and allows winning score on a fourth down.

Vs. Green Bay
With the Chicago offense sputtering all game and in need of a short field, Packers go on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 6:33 to set up a field goal to go up 10-3 deep in the fourth quarter.

At Denver
Inept Broncos offense scores 11 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-3 Bears lead, driving 62 yards in 12 plays, converting two fourth downs and a two-point conversion. Denver’s second-half drives: 41 yards, 56 yards, 84 yards, 62 yards.

Vs. Washington
Bears build 28-0 lead before one of NFL’s worst offenses scores a pair of largely meaningless second-half TD’s.

Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Drive 92 yards in 13 plays for TD before Bears stiffen to stop two-point PAT and next Minnesota possession.

Vs. Oakland (London)
Raiders win game with 92-yard drive that includes fourth-down conversion on punt fake run despite Bears leaving No. 1 defensive unit in, anticipating fake.

Guess which highly-paid NFL kicker is only making 58% of his field goals?

usatsi_13364483.jpg
USA Today

Guess which highly-paid NFL kicker is only making 58% of his field goals?

Remember that time when the Bears tried out like 47 kickers and put them through a wide variety of arbitrary tests all while fan favorite Robby Gould was using the team's desperation as leverage to become the NFL's highest-paid kicker? Classic! 

It's been like three months since those totally-sane summer days, and reader, things have not gone so hot for Gould: 

Meanwhile, Eddy P is not only 8/9 on the season, but is already well on his way to becomming a fan favorite. We're already calling him Eddy P! After 5 games! 

That said, we won't truly know if the Bears made the right decision until Piñeiro beats out several Hall of Famers -- including someone credited for literally starting the NFL -- on the path to winning an offseason bracket-style fan vote.