Posted by sportsmaven on October 4, 2010
In case you are wondering why the Chicago Bears get very little if any respect from the national sports media, then you haven’t been watching tonight’s game against the New York Giants. Opportunities to get a nationally televised game on your schedule are few, and yet with the exception of last Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears have treated those opportunities to quote the NFL Network’s Warren Sapp, “like a blind dog in a meat house”. Now I don’t know what that means exactly, but it doesn’t sound too good to me.
Respect is something that is earned on the field of play. For the Bears defense, they played their hearts and souls out all night and deserve all the game balls that any team has to offer a unit. Conversely, the Bears offense, and the offensive line in particular, have put the Bears national reputation back in the proverbial trash can, overshadowing all the good things the Bears have done this season. You think the Giants went off on Bears QB’s tonight? Wait until you hear how the national media tees off on the Bears.
The offensive line is a disaster from the top down. the Bears line gave up 10 sacks tonight…9 in the FIRST HALF! If Jerry Angelo is not bringing in a parade of offensive lineman to Halas Hall starting tomorrow, he would be as neglectful a manager as the captain of the Titanic, the guy who was noticeably absent as his ship rammed into the iceberg that would take it straight to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t want to pin all the blame on the lack of blocking. Jay Cutler didn’t do his lineman any favors and neither did Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
The longer this game continues, the more inept the offensive line looks. There may not be any more room in Lovie Smith’s doghouse after this game for those who truly belong. Somewhere, a vindicated Dennis Green is watching this game and telling his dog how right he was about these Chicago Bears.
I have spoken all week about this game being the season for the Bears, and not in the same manner of desperation of which this game is the season for the New York Giants. Playing on the national stage of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, this game was supposed to be a defining moment for a Bears team that many have had doubts about since the opening game of the season. Unfortunately for the Bears, this game has cemented the many opinions of those outside of Chicago, that the Bears are more pretenders than contenders.
In the coming weeks, the commentary will be that the Bears beat the Detroit Lions on a rules technicality, beat the Dallas Cowboys by pure luck, and won the Packers game because the Packers decided to commit 18 penalties to beat themselves. The Bears were considered by many to be the worst 3-0 in the NFL, maybe in NFL history.
Let’s make no mistake, the Bears didn’t lose to a good team tonight. Outside of the outstanding front 4, this Giants team is horrendous. This is a bad loss for the Bears, a loss that can send even the best of seasons spiraling downward. We’ll see if the Bears can recover from this disaster. Now next week’s game against the Carolina Panthers becomes the new season defining game…..
Update: This post was the first post of the Sportsmaven blog written exclusively on the Apple iPad. I used the WordPress app, which is pretty good, but still in it’s developmental stages. The writing experience has been very good and I used the touch keyboard, which I found quite reponsive. While I had no major issues with typing on the type pad, I know some people do. I will continue to use the iPad to write blog entries going forward.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Dennis Green, Detroit Lions, green bay packers, Halas Hall, Jay Cutler, Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith, mike martz, New York Giants, Titanic, warren sapp | 1 Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on September 22, 2008
The Chicago Bears have lost yet another game in this young season that they should have won. Today’s loss makes two in a row, where the Bears have enjoyed statistical dominance, only to be trounced by late and furious comebacks by teams that are arguably average teams from the NFC South, in a weak National Football Conference. Why are the Bears losing games to average teams that they should have closed out and put away? There are 5 main reasons to explain the malaise this Bears team is facing after a very solid opening performance against the Indianapolis Colts to start the season:
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
1. Bears team unable to close out games – two weeks in a row, the Bears have lead games going into the second half. Two weeks in a row, the Bears offense has chances to extend drives to put games away and don’t execute. Two weeks in a row, the Bears defense has let teams come back to score the points that cost the Bears victories. The 4th and 1 play against the Carolina Panthers last week, the 3rd and 2 play in today’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both situations and lack of execution on those plays highlight the Bears inability to close out games. Then the tired Bears defense gets steamrolled by comebacks two weeks in a row.
The Bears need to develop some killer instinct and execution to put teams away, especially at the end of games. The Bears should be 3-0 after this week, but instead they are 1-2 and play a very tough Philadelphia Eagles team this coming Sunday night.
2. Too many mistakes and execution errors/lack of discipline – 22 penalties for 166 yards (average of 7 penalties for 55 yards per game), 4 key turnovers in the last two games. Missed blocks, missed tackles, untimely penalties wiping out big offensive gains. CB Charles Tillman’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the OT was a gamebreaker today. In today’s game, LB Hunter Hillenmeyer makes a key mistake on the TD by Bucs TE Jerramy Stevens by not taking away the inside route. The same mistake was made on the TD pass to WR Ike Hilliard earlier in the game. TE Greg Olsen fumbling the only 2 balls he touches in the Carolina game, both because he failed to tuck the ball properly after making the reception. These mistakes were minimized or hardly apparent in the opener against the Colts, but have been glaring the last two games, costing the Bears two victories against key NFC opponents.
3. Questionable play calling and coaching – when Special Teams coordinator Dave Toub is calling more effective plays than your offensive coordinator, that could be a sign that your team could be in trouble. When Toub bailed out Ron Turner on yet another failed 3rd and 1 call this afternoon with the fake punt, 38 yard run by RB Garrett Wolfe, he did two things that Turner has yet to master this season: he called a play to pick up the yard, and he figured out a way to get Garrett Wolfe into the game. RB Matt Forte is quickly emerging as a star. Forte touched the ball on 46% of the offensive plays in the Buccaneers game, but on a crucial 3rd down and 2, he was nowhere to be found. San Diego puts the ball in RB LaDanian Tomlinson’s hands in that position. Minnesota gives it to RB Adrian Peterson when they absolutely need 1 yard to extend an offensive series. Ten times out of ten, Turner needs to put the ball in Forte’s hands in that position. Two weeks in a row, he has failed to make the correct call.
Lovie Smith failed to challenge the Darrell McClover strip in the Tampa Bay game. Smith has had difficulties managing the challenge process and today was a glaring example of that difficulty. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich made virtually no adjustments at halftime, particularly in stopping the Tampa Bay slant plays. Buccaneers QB Brian Griese threw that slant for at least 15 completions today, mostly on 3rd and long situations. The Bears have yet to stop that play. The high marks the Bears staff received in preparation for the Colts game has been virtually wiped out by the Bears performance the last two weeks. Of course, it is way easier to be prepared with you have six weeks to prepare for that first game.
4. Inability to get key playmakers more touches – The Bears have 3 playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, WR Devin Hester, Forte and now WR Brandon Lloyd. QB Kyle Orton may or may not be a playmaker, but that can’t be determined because the play calling has yet to establish Orton as a playmaker. Until the second half of today’s game against the Buccaneers, the Bears have done a poor job of getting Lloyd more touches. The Bears have also neglected to get Forte into more touches in key moments of the games, moments that would put games away. Hester has yet to be a significant part of the weekly offensive gameplan and now he is injured. Again, Turner has weapons that can be devastating with a little applied creativity. Hester should get about 15-20 touches a game, and not just as an outside receiver. The Bears need to use Hester like they use Forte – lineup in the backfield, receiver screen, slot receiver, on the end of the line at TE. They need to make defenses have to game plan to stop the perception that Hester might be used. This is a HUGE missed opportunity that needs to be exploited more going forward for the Bears offense to have any chance of winning. Turner needs to unleash Orton more often. The interception that Orton threw in the end zone of today’s game was actually not bad; it was nice to see Orton actually throw the ball down field. Turner needs to move Orton around, roll him out a bit more, get the moving pocket working. Orton took three sacks today, standing up as a statue in the pocket. His best moments were in the 3 and 5 step drops where he can move the ball quickly. The Green Bay Packers move QB Aaron Rodgers around all the time, with great success so far. Give Orton a chance to make some plays. I hate that the Bears set him up to “manage” football games. That has to change if the Bears are going to move the offense to the next level.
5. Lack of a NFL caliber offense – this is perhaps the biggest reason of all reasons that the Chicago Bears lose football games. The offense is too bland, too conservative when it needs to be more dynamic. The lack of playmakers is evident in the skill positions. The most dynamic WR on the team is Hester, who also is the WR with the least amount of touches. The most dynamic playmaker on the offense is Forte, but the Turner fails to get Forte the ball in key short yardage situations and on the goal line in consecutive weeks. The defense put the offense in great position on the first two series of the game, only for the offense to crawl into it’s conservative shell of bland, uninspiring playcalling, settling for two field goals when we really needed touchdowns, particularly on that first possession. Comcast Sports Chicago pulled an interesting statistic today regarding the TD reception by Forte. It was the first receiving touchdown the Bears have intentionally thrown to a RB in the last 116 games! Turner has proven to be conservative to a fault precisely at the times where more dynamic touch is necessary. The Bears offense seems very predictable, with virtually no deep game to keep defenses honest. This allows defenses to pick up tendencies before they happen, and with no deep game, defenses stack the line and box, forcing the Bears offense to work much harder for lesser output. This explains how the Bears are so challenged at times to gain a yard on 4th and 1 situations.
The Bears have lots of work to do to reverse the disturbing trends of the last two weeks. The big fear the Bears faced was losing the hard earned respect by the league that was garnered by the Colts win. The Bears could either prove they were for real with a 3-0 record, but with every loss, the Colts victory becomes more of a fluke rather than the decisive victory that signaled that the Monsters of the Midway are back.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Bob Babich, Brandon Lloyd, Brian Griese, Carolina Panthers, Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears, Darrell McClover, Dave Toub, Devin Hester, Garrett Wolfe, green bay packers, Greg Olsen, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Ike Hilliard, Indianapolis Colts, Jeramy Stevens, Kyle Orton, LaDanian Tomlinson, Lovie Smith, Matt Forte, NFC, NFC South, Philadelphia Eagles, Ron Turner, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 2 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on August 6, 2007
The Chicago Bears have what seems to be a very interesting problem: too much depth. Now, I know what you’re thinking, how can a team have too much depth? But that’s what the Bears have, so much so that they have traded last year’s starting SS Chris Harris to the Carolina Panthers and are looking to move another, reserve CB and special teams standout Dante Wesley. I will be the first to admit that I was very hard on Bears GM Jerry Angelo in the early days, but the last 3 years, he has proven that he has not only grown into the job, but has been one of the most shrewdest GM’s in the game in that period.
(Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante)
Angelo has wisely locked up core young talent early at a lesser price then they would have commanded in the open market, has drafted very wisely (has any GM drafted better from rounds 4-7? If so, I want to know who that person is) and has built a roster that is arguably the strongest in the NFC from top to bottom.
The Bears are trying to defy recent history by returning to the Super Bowl a year after losing the Big Game, only a return is not the goal. Winning the Super Bowl is the goal and it seems as though Bears head coach Lovie Smith has every man clearly focused on that goal once again. For the Bears, 5 things have to happen in order to have a chance at returning to the Big Game:
1. Avoid injuries at all cost — having the best bench depth in the NFC (and maybe in the league, west of New England) is definitely an asset, but you need your best players playing in top form all season. If LB Brian Urlacher, QB Rex Grossman, RB Cedric Benson, WR Bernard Berrian, KR/PR/WR Devin Hester, DT Tommie Harris, or any one of the starting OL goes down, the next line of talent is thin at these positions.
2. Offense has to make another leap in performance — The surprise of last season’s team was definitely the performance of the offense. Nobody on the planet thought the Bears would be #2 in the NFL in scoring nor that Rex Grossman would throw 20 TD passes and over 3000 yards passing. For the Bears to jump to the next level, Grossman must improve his completion rate. Last season, he was at 54.6%. This season, he has to eclipse 60% and limit his interceptions from 20 to single digits. RB Cedric Benson is on the spot now, and must rush for at least 1,200 yards and 10 TD’s. WR Mark Bradley must avoid the injury bug and establish himself as the #2 receiver, and WR Bernard Berrian must prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.
3. KR/PR/WR Devin Hester must emerge as a multiple options threat — this is probably the most tenuous of all the options. I can’t recall a return man who has excelled on the offensive side of the ball in recent history. The Kansas City Chiefs tried KR Dante Hall at WR and that didn’t work. Devin Hester could be one of the best open field players in NFL history, but not after one record setting season as a KR/PR. Hester must prove that he is a threat regardless of position. He didn’t stand out as a DB. The offensive side of the ball is where he belongs, but yet again, he is very raw and unproven there….
4. Defense can’t have another late season drop off — It was clear that the defense dropped off significantly in the second half of last season. It was still a very good defense, but a dominant defense wins Super Bowl XLI and that wasn’t the case for the Bears. The Indianapolis Colts rushed for 191 yards in the Super Bowl against a defense missing DL Tommie Harris and SS Mike Brown. That defense stepped up against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game, but the time for the defense to shine is in December and January. New defensive coordinator Bob Babich must bring more energy to the table then his predecessor, Ron Rivera, otherwise the change may be for naught.
5. Young players must perform well — Of any reason listed above, the performance of young players have been one of the biggest contributors to the recent success the Bears have experienced. KR/PR Devin Hester, SS Danieal Manning, WR Mark Bradley, when healthy, DE Mark Anderson, departed SS Chris Harris, K Robbie Gould are all young players that really turned their games on in their rookie or second years, pushing for playing time and putting high priced veterans on the bubble. The pressure will be on this year’s draft class, particularly TE Greg Olsen, RB Garrett Wolfe, and CB Trumaine McBride to fill key roles. If these rookies shine, expect the Bears to be even more potent.
Opening day in San Diego is right around the corner. The time to play the Chargers might be early in the season, but this is a tough opener. The non-division schedule is tough, with games against the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks, but to be the best, you have to go through the best. The Bears will definitely have that to deal with this championship season….
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Bernard Berrian, Bob Babich, Brian Urlacher, Carolina Panthers, Cedric Benson, Chicago Bears, Chris Harris, Dallas Cowboys, Danieal Manning, Dante Hall, Dante Wesley, Denver Broncos, Devin Hester, Garrett Wolfe, Greg Olson, Indianapolis Colts, Jerry Angelo, Kansas City Chiefs, Lovie Smith, Mark Anderson, Mark Bradley, Mike Brown, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFC Championship, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Rex Grossman, Robbie Gould, Ron Rivera, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl, Super Bowl XLI, Tommie Harris, Trumaine McBride | 1 Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 21, 2007
So Sunday is finally here. I am at my usual Sunday morning tailgate writing this blog. As of now, it is currently 27 degrees, and some frozen something or another is falling out of the sky. We decided to eat New Orleans style today, in honor of our worthy opponents, the New Orleans Saints. Jumbalaya, red beans and rice, cornbread, the works…we are doing it up right. This is it….our 12th home game of the season (including the preseason). The 13-3 record, the NFC North Division Title, the Divisional playoff win, the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors all mean nothing without a victory today. I love our chances today, I really do.
I believe the Bears understand this deeply. I believe the Bears will come out with intensity, fire and singular focus. No looking forward, no looking back. For 60 game minutes, the Bears will will lay it all on the line, as they learned from last season’s Carolina loss, there is no tomorrow in playoff football.
I couldn’t sleep last night in anticipation of today’s game. I really wanted to savor every moment of getting to this game, the dedication it took from the every person in the Bears organization from the first day of training camp in July to today’s game. Lovie Smith has consistently called this the “Championship Season” and I want to appreciate every moment of today. The Saints will not go easily into the night; the Bears will have to earn this one, but as a fan, I would really have it no other way. It is their time, and this is not being cocky or talking team of destiny, but it is their time. This began last season with the Carolina Panthers and comes to this moment.
So I plan on eating my jumbalaya, red beans and rice, cornbread, drinking a Blue Moon, walking the 1+ miles to Soldier Field in the elements, thinking of Papa Bear and Walter Payton. I will be on the edge for every single play and might never sit down today, because this is the NFC Championship and the Halas Trophy is on the line. I agree with Lovie, wouldn’t it be nice to win the Halas Trophy at Soldier Field? This is what we play for……so lets get it on.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: All-Pro, Carolina Panthers, Halas Trophy, Lovie Smith, New Orleans Saints, NFC Championship, NFC North, Pro Bowl, Soldier Field, Walter Payton | 1 Comment »