Monday, Sept. 19, 2011
Posted: 10:22 a.m. Posted: 4:00 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Missing two of its top three wide receivers (Earl Bennett, Roy Williams) and two starting offensive linemen (Gabe Carimi, Lance Louis) and playing in one of the NFLs most difficult venues against an accomplished blitzing defense, the Bears and Mike Martzs offense ran the ball not just badly, but barely, and with what are now becoming predictable results.
The 12 rushing attempts by the Bears tied the second-lowest total in franchise history, a mark the Bears have reached on four previous occasions. The head-shaker here is that the Bears ran exactly twice in the entire second half, Matt Forte once, Kahlil Bell once, while calling 29 pass plays over the final two quarters.
The rationale will be: The escalating deficit on the scoreboard dictated that the Bears throw in hopes of quick scores. But the inexplicable fact is that the score was 16-13 after one Bears possession in the third quarter. At that point Martz had called 23 pass plays (one resulting in a 12-yard Jay Cutler scramble) and nine Forte runs.
The New Orleans edge jumped to 23-13, still not out of reach or cause for abandoning a game plan, after the next Chicago possession.
That was the one on which Cutler was sacked and stripped of the ball, setting up the Saints offense at the Chicago 29, from where the Saints scored five plays later.
Three of those five New Orleans plays were runs.
Second-guessing is always easy. But the Bears trailed by 10 points with half of the third quarter and all of the fourth in front of them. Yet a shaky offensive line missing two starters was put in a position of trying to hear as well as trying to pass-protect, and the Bears could have lost far more than the game.
Blocking it out
All of the sacks of Cutler came after right tackle Carimi had left the game with a knee injury, suffered in the late moments of the second quarter when he was rolled up on during a play. The Bears one significant run, Fortes 42-yard rush in the first quarter, came around the right side.
Exact responsibility for sacks is often difficult to determine, without knowing protection calls or assignments. Not all of the six sacks of Cutler came over Carimi replacement Frank Omiyale, or over Chris Spencer, filling in for injured right guard Lance Louis.
Indeed, the most devastating blow to Cutler came when defensive end Turk McBride effectively sprinted right past tight end Kellen Davis to hit Cutler from behind and force a fumble that was the turning point of the game.
Davis also turned Atlantas Lawrence Sidbury loose virtually untouched last week and the Falcons defensive end delivered a blow from behind as Cutler released the ball, leaving Cutler momentarily stunned.
We'll make our usual Monday visit with my Springfield boys on WFMB-AMSportsRadio 1450 at 4:40 p.m. And Tuesday morning I'll check in withDave Eanet on WGN-AM 720 for some more Bears happnin's. BTW, it'salways an honor to spend time with a Hall of Famer, and Dave is - hisplay-by-play work for Northwestern is a Chicago gem.
The coverage breakdown by Major Wright that cost the Bears a 79-yard TD pass to Devery Henderson on a third-and-12 situation could cost the young safety his starting job. Wright was beaten deep, something that is supposed to never happen in the Lovie SmithRod Marinelli Cover-2 scheme.
The immediate decision on Wright may in fact make itself. Wright was forced to leave the game with a head injury, did not return, and likely will be held out at least a week, as is becoming more of a policy in the NFL after head injuries.
Brandon Meriweather was out of the game at that point and veteran Chris Harris was inactive with a hamstring injury. Rookie Chris Conte arrived too late to attempt anything other than a diving tackle, which missed, but the fate of Wright will have to play out following what will not be pleasant film session.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.