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 April 26, 2008
There have been countless mock drafts, endless expert analysis and general watercooler, beer garden, happy hour sports conversations on what exactly the Chicago Bears will do with their draft picks in today’s NFL Draft. The consensus? Nobody knows exactly what the Bears will do…..and that’s exactly the way that Bears GM Jerry Angelo likes it.
ESPN’s expert NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks the Bears will go with a offensive lineman, specifically Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams. Todd McShay from Scouts, Inc is going with Boise State OT Ryan Clady (personally, I think he’ll be long gone by pick 14). Fox Sports analyst Jay Glazer has the Bears picking Illinois standout RB Rashard Mendenhall. And finally, the guru of all mock draft analysts, the most accurate mock draft expert, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning Star has the Bears choosing Virginia OG/OT Branden Albert. Other late circulating rumors have the Bears entertaining trade offers and the possibility of moving down in the draft (which is real, since Jerry Angelo seems to prefer that strategy over all others.)
One thing is certain about this draft: This is a make or break draft for Jerry Angelo. He has to hit big in this draft and he has to hit big with picks on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears have many holes to fill: OT, OG, WR, RB, possibly QB. The Bears need at least 2 starter grade picks out of this draft and and probably 4-5 major contributors in order to compete in the NFC this coming season.
The NFC will be a vastly improved conference this coming season, and in particular, the NFC North Division. The Minnesota Vikings look drastically improved with the addition of WR Bernard Berrian to strengthen the offense and DE Jared Allen to a underrated defense, the Detroit Lions look to make a step up from last season if they play their draft cards correctly and the Green Bay Packers are the reigning division champions, who many feel will drop off after the retirement of QB Brett Farve. (I believe the Packers will be in contention for the division title all season long.) In addition, teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks are bulking up to compete for the NFC crown.
The Bears hold 11 draft picks and 4 of the first 100 picks. The Chicago Tribune ranked the top GM’s in the NFL in terms of draft picks that went on to become starters in the league. The top GM was, surprisingly Arizona Cardinals GM (and former Bears Director of Pro Personnel) Rod Graves. The Bears Jerry Angelo made it into the top 10 at #10, mostly on the strength of his defensive picks. Offense has not been good to Jerry Angelo draft picks, which puts even more pressure on hitting this draft big. The Bears need playmakers, explosive players, football players, not combine gym rat types. Jerry Angelo stated this week that this was a 10 man draft at the top, which is not good if you hold the 14th pick. While I don’t envision Angelo trading up, it wouldn’t surprise me if he traded down. The OL pick in the first round seems to be the majority opinion in mock drafts and analyst opinions. Which means that it’s most likely Chris Williams. 2nd round RB and third round WR/OL. After that, it’s more of a crapshoot, which makes predictions a waste of good time. Good luck, Jerry Angelo……you’re going to need a lot of it.
By the way, some of the players I like in this year’s draft that I would be thrilled to see the Bears pick:
RB – Rashard Mendenhall, James Stewart, Ray Rice, Matt Forte
WR – Mario Manningham, Malcolm Kelly, Eddie Royal, James Hardy, Jordy Nelson
OL – Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Chilo Rachal, Duane Brown, Anthony Collins, Chris Williams
QB – Chad Henne, Joe Flacco, Dennis Dixon
Safety – Tom Zbikowski
DT – Marcus Harrison, Pat Sims
LB – Jordon Dizon, Xavier Adibi
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: 2008 NFL Draft, Anthony Collins, Bernard Berrian, Branden Albert, Brett Favre, Chad Henne, Chicago Bears, Chilo Rachal, Chris Williams, Dallas Cowboys, Dennis Dixon, Detroit Lions, Duane Brown, Eddie Royal, ESPN, green bay packers, James Hardy, James Stewart, Jared Allen, Jerry Angelo, Joe Flacco, Jordon Dizon, Jordy Nelson, Malcolm Kelly, Marcus Harrison, Mario Manningham, Matt Forte, Mel Kiper, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, NFC, NFC North, NFL, Pat Sims, Philadelphia Eagles, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Rick Gosselin, Ryan Clady, Seattle Seahawks, Todd McShay, Tom Zbikowski, Xavier Adibi | 3 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on December 18, 2007
If you haven’t already realized it, the Chicago Bears are officially a national embarrassment. Tonight’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t a decisive Vikings victory in the least. In fact, it appeared to me that the Vikings were a little less inept that the Bears, in pulling out a 20-13 victory on Monday Night Football.
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Tonight was QB Kyle Orton’s 2007 coming out party and he was OK tonight. He didn’t get any help tonight from anyone on the offensive side of the ball. To fully explain how painfully horrible this game was for the Bears, consider the following:
- The Vikings turn the ball over 4 times, including their first two possessions of the game, with Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson throwing 3 of the most ugly interceptions seen as well as helping RB Adrian Peterson fumble a handoff.
- The Vikings muff an extra point attempt after their 3rd quarter touchdown
- The Bears are +3 in turnover differential and STILL lose
- The Bears miss 5 tackles on one play, resulting in a 71 yard completion to Vikings WR Robert Ferguson, the longest reception of his 8 year career.
- The Bears commit 11 penalties for 95 yards, many on false starts and holding calls on the offensive line.
I really don’t know what to say about the Bears team as a whole. This season has been a colossal collapse from all aspects of the game, save the special teams, K Robbie Gould, and WR/KR Devin Hester, most notably. The offensive line is getting worse week to week, not being able to run block all season (the Bears are dead last in the NFL in rushing) and not pass blocking much better. The offensive rushing game lacks explosion, consistency (other than being consistently horrible). The offense on the whole misses too many blocks, too many unforced errors, and mental mishaps. Too many 3 and outs, killing the effectiveness of the defense. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner is definitely on the hot seat in Chicago.
On the defensive misses too many tackles, too many undisciplined jumps out of gap coverage, players out of position, too vulnerable to cutback runs and cutback moves, can’t prevent the big plays. The Bears may be looking at the potential of two new coordinators next season.
The Bears are hitting new lows each week and there are so many holes to fix on this team that it’s becoming a full blown rebuilding project. The worse the Bears play, the more the feeling is that last year’s Super Bowl run was a fluke. Next year isn’t looking so hot after a bad Monday night loss to a not so good Vikings team.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Chicago Bears, Chicago Sports, Devin Hester, football, Kyle Orton, Minnesota Vikings, Monday Night Football, NFC, NFL, pro sports, Robbie Gould, Robert Ferguson, Ron Turner, Tarvaris Jackson | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007
22After the Dallas Cowboys160167 game a couple of weeks ago, I began to doubt whether or not the Chicago Bears 161168had a jinx of their own. It seems as though the Bears can’t win a game on national television. The Bears record on Monday Night Football has been an atrocious 18-32 going into the 2007 season. Their record on Sunday Night Football has been a little better, 2-1 going into last night’s game with the undefeated Green Bay Packers162169.
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
With the Cubs death spiral in the playoffs, as well as the 1-3 start for the Bears, going into last night’s game, many thought it would be a long winter for sports in Chicago. After the first two drives, it was going to be a REALLY long winter, as the Bears looked about as bad as you could look. But they were still in the game, trailing only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 17-7 going into halftime. The Packers somehow couldn’t get past the Bears, keeping them in the game with turnovers, penalties, and mistakes.
ESPN made some references to airing Lovie Smith’s halftime speech to the Bears, but it never made any mention of it after that teaser and I fell asleep waiting for it, so I never got to see it, but whatever he said, it must have worked, as the Bears finally showed up in the second half, played good football, and won the game 27-20.170
I have to admit that the Bears didn’t look very dominant in any phase of the game last night. They looked over-matched both offensively and defensively in the first half. The defense came out much tougher in the second half and the offense did just enough to capitalize on sloppy play by the Packers, but I felt that the the outcome wasn’t so much a Bears victory as it was a Packers loss. I am still not convinced that the offense is much better than it was. Bears QB Brian Griese171 had a good game and the Bears TE had great games. (Finally — TE Greg Olsen172 gets involved and it pays off!)
The Bears defense needs some work, as they let the Packers run on them all night. They did a great job of picking it up in the second half, but I have yet to see the Bears play a complete game this season and we are entering week 6. I am optimistic that the Bears are moving in the right direction and the Packers win was the biggest of the season. We have the Minnesota Vikings173 at home this week and we need to make this game our next make or break game of the week. At 2-3 we are still 2 games behind the Packers and need to close ground every week now. Like it or not, every divisional game is a must-win, that’s the situation we’re in.2
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Chicago Bears, Chicago Sports, football, green bay packers, NFC, NFL, pro sports | 3 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 »