Why did Bears abandon the run in second half?


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 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'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.

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

A plethora of NFL quarterbacks are set to hit the open market in the next few weeks in Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum.

With at least nine in-demand signal-callers, the NFL could see a quarterback shakeup unparalleled in recent NFL history. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, there may be “more butts than seats.”

“In this looming game of quarterback musical chairs, I still don’t think we know whether when the music stops, there’s gonna be more butts than seats, or more seats than butts,” Florio said on NBC Sports’ PFT Live. “And there’s a chance that there’s gonna be a team that is left — because they wanted too long to have something lined up — they’re gonna be left looking around saying ‘Who the hell’s our quarterback for 2020?’”

Based on that list of quarterbacks, teams that could have a QB vacancy to fill this winter include the Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Chargers and Titans. There are nine quarterbacks on that list, though Mariota and Keenum may be viewed more as backups by prospective suitors. Therefore, you could have six teams in need of a quarterback and seven on the open market.

The former figure could increase if teams like the Bears or Raiders look to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency. In that case, perhaps there are more “chairs” than “butts” this offseason, meaning some teams may find themselves without a starting quarterback entering the NFL draft.

In that scenario, a team may be inclined to trade for a QB, such as Bengals’ Andy Dalton. How this chaotic situation plays out will determined in the coming weeks, but what’s already certain is this offseason’s free agency could be a frenzy.

“We’ve never had anything even close to this, by way of potential chaos for quarterbacks in free agency and really through the draft,” Florio said. “Who knows how it’s all gonna play out? There’s gonna be a major, major shakeup, potentially. It’s gonna be somewhere between nothing changes and complete and total chaos, but I think it’s gonna be closer to complete and total chaos.”