The Denver Broncos came in with a first-time starter at quarterback (Brock Osweiler) and a run game averaging 86 yards per game. They left with a win on the strength of 170 rushing yards (4.7 yards per carry vs. 3.8 prior, 27th in the NFL). The Bears knew the Denver plan was to run and the Bears were able to do less than nothing about it.
"They came down with a plan to run the ball down our throat and they ran the ball down our throat,” said linebacker Pernell McPhee. “We have to do a better job of preparing ourselves to stop the run.”
Linebackers were slow closing in run support early and overmatched in pass coverage, leaving too many receivers open underneath when linebackers’ primary job was to drop into coverage underneath. The Broncos exploited Bears pursuit and reactions in the fourth quarter on a drive that produced a decisive touchdown, and linebackers too often appeared to hit wrong gaps, giving the defense two players in one gap and none in another.
“I don't think we laid down,” McPhee said. “I think they did a lot of good schemed-up things that a lot of young guys on our defense hasn't seen and they took advantage of it."
Shea McClellin blitzed to force a throwaway by Osweiler that was arguable intentional grounding in the end zone. Christian Jones closed on a fourth-and-goal run by Ronnie Hillman to keep the Broncos from going up by two scores in the third quarter.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
But Jones, who led the Bears with 8 tackles, was out of his gap and slow to react to a 15-yard run by C.J. Anderson in the fourth quarter, and none of the linebackers reacted to a tight-end screen to Vernon Davis that netted 18 yards, also on the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to come in running the ball,” McClellin said, “and they just got the better of us.”
Moon's Grade: D