Bears Grades: Secondary routinely burned for big gains


Bears Grades: Secondary routinely burned for big gains

After allowing just 16 pass plays of 20 yards or longer through five games, the Bears allowed four in just the first 15 minutes of Detroit Lions possession Sunday, setting a course for problems that eventually doomed the Bears. The Lions put up eight pass plays of 20 or more yards, including two in the fourth quarter and a 57-yarder from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

“I just saw Matt,” Johnson said. “Once I’m running downfield, he always tells me to keep my eyes on him because he’ll throw it up. I saw him do the ‘crow hop’ so I knew it was coming. I was just trying to keep the defender in a good place so I could make a play off of him.”

The defender on the play was rookie safety Harold Jones-Quartey after cornerback Kyle Fuller had passed Johnson off to the deep coverage. “He’s a tough cover,” said Jones-Quartey. “He’s big, he’s fast, he can jump. He’s Calvin Johnson, a great player. But that’s no excuse. When your number’s called, you’ve got to make a play.”

Johnson has made a career out of abusing secondaries and spent much of Sunday doing the same. He finished with six catches for 166 yards and a touchdown, nearly all of the receptions coming at what seemed to be the most precipitous moments.

Johnson worked into an open area of the Bears’ zone for a 43-yard gainer in the second quarter, then beat cornerback Tracy Porter for 39 yards to set up the third Detroit touchdown. “It was a lot of (coverage) variety,” Porter said. “I was on him most of the time, but we mixed it up a little bit, tried different things.”

[MORE BEARS: Upon further review: No interception for Bears as Lions get TD]

But Johnson was far from the only problem for the Bears. Stafford finished with 405 passing yards and four touchdown passes, exploiting major breakdowns by virtually every member of the secondary at one point or another.

Fuller had a day nothing short of tumultuous. The second-year cornerback saved a touchdown with an open-field tackle of Johnson in the second quarter. Fuller then gave up the score when he lost focus as Stafford extended the play and Detroit backup tight end Tim Wright worked free for a virtually uncontested catch of a eight-yard touchdown to finish that drive.

Fuller failed to seal against a slant to wideout Golden Tate in the Chicago end zone late in the second quarter.

Missed tackles and poor leverage allowed a 22-yard completion from Stafford to Tate, a catch-and-run in the first quarter that was followed by poor coverage on which Sherrick McManis allowed wideout Lance Moore an easy catch on a slant for a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Moore finished with five catches and a total of 106 yards.

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McManis also completely lost Moore in the secondary in nickel coverage to allow a 42-yard completion late in the third quarter. McManis was spared embarrassment several plays later when he missed running back Theo Riddick on a long gainer that was nullified by a pass interference call against Johnson.

Fuller committed pass interference on what would have been a third-down stop late in the fourth quarter, sustaining a Detroit drive.

The Lions put particular emphasis on working deep against the Bears, “and I’m glad we did,” Johnson said.

Moon's Grade: F

Under Center Podcast: What should we expect from Mitch Trubisky vs. New Orleans?

USA Today

Under Center Podcast: What should we expect from Mitch Trubisky vs. New Orleans?

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and John "Moon" Mullin look at the likelihood Mitch Trubisky returns on Sunday against the Saints, and what the Bears should expect from him when he comes back (02:00). Plus, JJ is concerned about how the Bears can attack standout Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (09:00) while Moon and Cam dive into what positions need to be better to help Mitch out (11:00).

Listen here or via the embedded player below: