Bears

Why did Bears abandon the run in second half?

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Why did Bears abandon the run in second half?

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.

Talkin' Bears

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.

Duly noted

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.

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

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USA Today

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

The Bears were pleased with what they saw from their overhauled running back room during non-padded OTA and minicamp practices during the spring, but consider that an incomplete evaluation. 

David Montgomery, in particular, impressed with his quickness, athleticism and route running. Nothing Mike Davis showed dissuaded the team from believing in the free agent signing’s untapped potential. Positive things were said about seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. and second-year undrafted free agent Ryan Nall. 

The only running back returning from 2018’s unit is Tarik Cohen. But while Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and the Bears’ talent evaluators did their homework on their new players, they won’t really get to see what they have until the pads come on in Bourbonnais (Nagy expects the first padded practice of training camp to be Sunday). 

“I know (Montgomery) kept asking coach, ‘when do we put the pads on?” Pace said. “And so we’re to that point. One of his greatest strengths is his contact balance and his ability to break tackles, and now we’re at a point where that can be showcased.”

It’s one thing for a rookie to stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Tight end Adam Shaheen did two years ago, bodying up NFL-caliber defenders to make some impressive plays in those non-padded practices. But he faded when pads came on in training camp and didn’t play a significant role in 2017’s dour offense. 

The Bears believe Montgomery’s ability to break tackles — he forced the most missed tackles among FBS running backs in 2018 with 99, per Pro Football Focus — will translate to the NFL, giving their ground game a dimension it didn’t have in 2018. Jordan Howard avoided 22 tackles on rushing attempts last year, 28th in the NFL and nearly half the total of Kareem Hunt. Hunt appeared in 11 games (five fewer than Howard) before the Kansas City Chiefs released him after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman; Montgomery’s style of play has favorably been compared to Hunt’s.  

As for Davis, Pace said: “I think I feel like he’s a little bit under the radar right now. Mike’s had a great offseason and we’re fortunate to have him. That’s a strong room — we talk about the receivers, we feel the same way about the running back room. And Mike Davis is a real important part of that.”

The Bears feel like Montgomery, Davis and Cohen leading their running back room will allow them to be less predictable and more efficient on offense. Last year, Howard carried the ball two-thirds of the time he was on the field, while he was targeted with a pass on just six percent of his plays. Yet no skill position player (except Mitch Trubisky, of course) was more involved in the Bears’ offense last year — 33 percent of the Bears’ total plays involved Howard. 

All three of the Bears’ top running backs in 2019 will be expected to catch passes out of the backfield as well as running the ball with a blend of efficiency and explosiveness. We’ll begin to find out this week in Bourbonnais if Pace’s overhaul of that corner of his depth chart will produce the results the Bears’ offense needs. 

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

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USA Today

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is starting his first (overdue) season as an NFL head coach. 

It's his first time running the show, making the rules, etc. One particularly important rule that Fangio has emphasized to start the year? Music has no place on the football field! 

Fangio won't be playing music during practice because, as noted Grump Bill Belichick can attest to, if you're having fun, you're not getting better. Here's his rationalization: 

"There's no music in games. And when it comes to the point where we need to simulate crowd noise in practice, which we will do, it will be noise. It won't be music," said Fangio, via NFL Network's James Palmer. "Noise, by definition, sounds annoying. Music sounds nice."

He's not wrong - music DOES sound nice. That's about where he stops making much sense, though. 

Vic Fangio: still kinda grumpy!