Bears Grades: Jimmy Clausen can't trigger offense in shutout loss


Bears Grades: Jimmy Clausen can't trigger offense in shutout loss

The last time the Bears were shut out in a regular season was in 2002, that time by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 15-0, with Henry Burris as quarterback. Jimmy Clausen is not in the Burris conversation, but his inability to trigger the offense on time early and to challenge the Seattle Seahawks defense through the air all but assured the Bears being shut out again.

“We didn’t protect too well, and we didn’t execute well in the passing game,” said coach John Fox, “whether it was routes or protection or delivering the ball.”

Clausen was generally efficient early within a conservative game plan that involved just eight called pass plays in the first half. Clausen scrambled for 11 yards and a second-quarter first down on a third down to sustain a possession. For the day, Clausen complete nine of 17 passes for just 63 yards, took two sacks and six other hits, posting a poor 61.6 passer rating.

The Bears didn’t think they could work deep, and “I think that it proved to be pretty true,” Fox said.

[MORE BEARS: Disastrous effort from special teams in loss to Seahawks]

Clausen completed just three passes to wide receivers, all to Eddie Royal, and his longest completion covered just 21 yards, to tight end Zach Miller. The Seahawks were never at risk down the field and by the second half were able to throttle Matt Forte and the run game, allowing the Bears just 37 net yards in the second half.

“They like to play off and keep everything in front of them and just run to the ball,” Clausen said. “

If there was a puzzling recurring mistake, too often Clausen put his offense under time pressure, taking too long to get plays started. He put the offense in an immediate hole with a delay of game infraction before the game’s first snap, an ill-advised penalty taking too much time that left his line holding in stances and then losing five yards to penalty. Clausen did the same thing on a third down later in the quarter, with right tackle Kyle Long eventually called for a false start. Coaches had to burn a timeout in the second quarter to save another penalty.

Clausen added to the offense’s problems early in the third quarter with another delay of game that worsened field position when the Bears desperately needed some positive momentum.

Moon's Grade: D

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”