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Chicago Bears Find Yet Another Way To Embarrass Themselves On National Television

Posted by sportsmaven on October 19, 2009

The optimistic Chicago Bears fans will say the bounces just didn’t go the Bears way in tonight’s Sunday night nationally televised game against the Atlanta Falcons.  The realist will look at the same game and say that the Bears found yet another way to themselves in front of a nationwide audience, losing on the road to the Falcons 21-14.  The Bears treat nationally televised games like a child’s trip to the dentist.  Lots of fumbling, mental and physical mistakes and stupid penalties marred tonight’s latest sub-par prime time performance.  Once again, there is a big question mark hanging over the head of Bears head coach Lovie Smith when it comes to the quality of weekly game-time preparation.

 (AP Photo/John Amis)

(AP Photo/John Amis)

The Bears looked rusty from the outset of tonight’s game, treating the red zone more like a demilitarized zone on the offensive side of the ball.  Execution in the red zone, offensively, hurt the Bears tremendously.  Bears RB Matt Forte’s two fumbles in a row inside the 5-yard line was the missed opportunity that was the difference maker.  Forte began his careers with an amazing 2 fumbles in 480 touches before those 2 consecutive fumbles on the goal line.  Defensively, the Bears started strong, with 3 straight three-and-outs to start the game…..until the no-huddle neutralized the Bears defense.  Combined with the untimely turnovers, the Bears continued to not just shoot themselves in the foot, but empty the entire clip along the way.

Huge penalties by OT Orlando Pace and OG Frank Omiyale on the final drive of the game killed a promising charge led by QB Jay Cutler and various Bear receivers who are improving with each passing week.  Cutler didn’t walk away without his small share of blame, with his 2 ill-timed interceptions and more than a couple of balls thrown behind or overthrown to receivers.  At this moment, the Bears offensive line is the glaring weak point of the team.  The lack of successful run blocking has stuck out like a sore thumb this season.

At any rate, all the Bears demons came out tonight.  Two Sunday night, NBC prime time games, two embarrassing, bone headed performances.  Listening to NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth describe the play of the Bears is like listening to a sadistic parent criticize the performance of a shell-shocked, underachieving child.  The contrast between his analysis of the Bears and the Falcons was virtually night and day.  It’s almost as bad as listening to former analyst John Madden’s love for anything Brett Favre.  Something about NBC Sunday Night Football brings out the dark side of once promising, talented analysts.  Mr. Collinsworth, if you want to see a top notch analyst in action, tune in to ESPN’s Ron Jaworski for a lesson in expert analysis.

Upon further examination of the remaining Chicago Bears schedule for 2009, there are 3 more nationally televised games left on the schedule, plus the NBC Sunday night flex schedule that could potentially add additional prime time opportunities for the Bears.  At this rate, the Bears could be flexed out of the playoffs by NBC and Cris Collinsworth, or their unmitigated, performance anxiety brought about by prime-time television.

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Chicago Bears Beat Themselves, Green Bay Packers Are Beneficiaries

Posted by sportsmaven on September 14, 2009

Chicago Bears fans, welcome to the Jay Cutler era.  Don’t you wish you had QB Kyle Orton today?  It is incredibly easy to put all the blame on the horrific play of QB Jay Cutler, but he had plenty of help from his teammates and the coaching staff tonight in a 21-15 loss to the Green Bay Packers.  This truly was a total team effort.  The Bears made key mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams.  There was bad playcalling, missed blocking, tackling and coverage assignments, dropped balls, receivers quitting on routes.  The expectation is that no team in the NFL plays an entirely perfect game, but the totality, timing, and magnitude of the mistakes is startling and alarming.

(AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

(AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

The Bears dominated the Packers statistically tonight, but overcoming the many mistakes that were made tonight proved to be beyond the realm of the Bears performance tonight.  Glaring mistakes include:

  1. Cutler’s 4 interceptions — pick one, they were all devastating
  2. CB Nathan Vasher’s blown coverage on Packers WR Greg Jennings 50-yard touchdown, inexcusable
  3. Upsnap from long snapper Patrick Mannelly — the boneheaded play of the game, giving the Packers an easy FG with the Bears leading by 2 points
  4. WR Johnny Knox and TE Desmond Clark quitting on routes — dumbfounding
  5. Game management, especially in the 2nd half, burning timeouts including one on a ill-fated challenge on the failed upsnap play.
  6. TE Greg Olsen — where were you?

I don’t want to take anything away from the Packers, they had to capitalize on the errors the Bears were making.  They didn’t capitalize on every mistake, but the Bears kept them in the game, giving the Packers opportunities time and time again to convert, and I don’t think any Bears fan was comfortable when the Bears kicked the last field goal to take the lead 15-13 with 2:36 left in the game.

So what did the Bears do right?  I liked a number of things:

  1. Receivers played better than expected.  WR’s Devin Hester and Earl Bennett had nice games.  Knox had a good game minus the bailout on the slant pattern
  2. The Bears have a pass rush!  Defensive Line coach Rod Marinelli gets a game ball for getting this group of lineman to constantly pressure Packers QB Aaron Rodgers into an average night (until the last, late TD pass)
  3. Tackles Orlando Pace and Chris Williams were blowing people off the ball with their strong play
  4. SS Al Afalava had a strong game, with 4 tackles and a sack.  Afalava has a nose for the ball and plays big, something the Bears defense needs
  5. P Brad Maynard punted out of his mind tonight, pinning the Packers with bad field position, with 4 punts for 49.5 yard average with 2 punts inside the 20.  Maynard is definitely a weapon for the Bears.

So what do you think the Bears (we hope) learned tonight?  Hopefully plenty:

  1. Jay Cutler can’t win games all by himself.  He needs help and didn’t get much from his receivers (especially the TE’s), early play-calling, and early blocking from a OL that came out of the gate creaky.  Cutler’s bad decisions led to disaster tonight.
  2. Nathan Vasher is not nearly the same player that he was in his 2005 Pro Bowl season.  He is back-up material at best.  Get CB Zackary Bowman in there, early and often.  The Bears secondary leaves Green Bay with the same questions it had going in to Green Bay.
  3. Receivers can’t quit on routes and need to get on the same page with Cutler pronto.  There play wasn’t good enough tonight, especially Olson and Clark.  Clark quitting on that pass in the end zone in the first half was absolutely inexcusable.  He keeps running, easy TD.
  4. Even coaches need to work on fundamentals.  Bad offensive play calling through most of the first half, the ill-advised challenge in the second half on the upsnap play marked and the general look of unpreparedness that seemed to hover around the team, especially the offense.

The Bears play their home opener next Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and may have to play without the heart and soul of their defense, LB Brian Urlacher, strong side LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, and backup CB Trumaine McBride.  The offense needs to step it up three notches and the defense another notch to compete with the Steelers.  Only time will tell if that is realistic, or if the Bears move through the toughest part of their league’s easiest schedule with more blemishes.

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