The word of the day was pressure, and the man who felt it all day was Jay Cutler. The New Orleans Saints sacked Cutler six times, including five times in the fourth quarter, en route to a 30-13 victory over the Chicago Bears. The Bears offensive line looked terrible all day and there was no pocket for the Bears QB to get comfortable in throughout the game. One bright spot was Matt Forte, who gained 49 yards on the ground and 117 yards receiving.
The Bears offense began the game with an ugly three-and-out, but the Bears defense held the Saints to the same result on their first possession. Cutler and Forte then led the Bears down the field on a long drive, aided by a few key Saints penalties, ending in an eight-yard pass to Dane Sanzenbacher for his first career touchdown. That was the last time the Bears offense made any real progress in the game.
Cutler was running for his life all game long and fell back on his old, bad habits again—throwing off his back foot, holding the ball too long and not throwing the ball away. A combination of missed assignments and bad blocking by the offensive line and tight ends spelled disaster for Jay.
Mike Martz didn’t help, either. The Bears ran 52 passing plays resulting in 19 completions, six sacks, 26 incompletions and one quarterback run. There were only 11 running plays called all day. If history has told us anything, it’s that when the Bears don’t establish the run, they are doomed.
The Bears defense played pretty well, considering the Bears offense had six three-and-outs and one turnover. The Saints gained 16 first downs and ran for 118 yards, while Drew Brees threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Compare that to the top-ranked Green Bay Packers defense that gave up 477 total yards and 27 first downs to these same Saints last week.
One glaring mistake the Bears defense made in the second quarter was when Major Wright allowed Devery Henderson to get behind him for a 79-yard touchdown, the only time the Saints found the end zone in the first half. The Saints were also forced to kick three field goals, two from the red zone. Going into halftime, the Saints led 16-10, and the Bears were happy to be within only a touchdown.
The second half started well with a three-and-out by the Saints’ O and a field goal by Robbie Gould, making it a three-point game. But on the Bears next possession, Cutler was blindsided by Turk McBride and fumbled the ball. Jonathan Vilma scooped it up, and the Bears couldn’t get past the Saints 47-yard-line the rest of the game.
I’ll spare you all of the grizzly details (as you probably saw the end of the game), but Cutler was, visibly, pissed off and, metaphorically, pissed on until the end of the game.
To make matters worse, 2011 first-round pick RT Gabe Carimi was injured in the second quarter and didn’t return. Frank Omiyale filled in for him, and the biggest impact he made in the game was picking a fight after one of Cutler’s sacks. Wright also left the game in the third quarter with a head injury and wide receiver Earl Bennett was popped on a catch over the middle, resulting in a chest injury. Neither Wright nor Bennett returned to the game.
A few bright spots from the game came from the superb play of Forte (who accounted for two-thirds of the Bears yards from scrimmage), and the emergence of Sanzenbacher (3 catches for 33 yards) as a reliable option for Cutler. Cornerback Charles Tillman also forced and recovered a fumble from Saints rookie running back, Mark Ingram, late in the game. Lance Briggs contributed 11 tackles, while the Bears D stopped Brees on nine of 17 third downs and two of four red zone tries.
In the end, the Bears offense just couldn’t find a rhythm and had no answer for the Saints’ constant blitzing. Cutler didn’t look comfortable from the get-go and the role the crowd noise played was obvious. (Fullback Tyler Clutts ran the wrong way before one snap and Cutler had the yell at him to go where he was supposed to go.) Devin Hester also looked out of sync, being targeted nine times but only catching one ball for 17 yards (though a few passes were uncatchable), while also fumbling a punt return out of bounds.
Most of the BearGogglesOn team predicted that the Bears would drop this game, but I’m sure no one thought the offensive line would collapse the way it did. If Carimi is out for an extended period of time and Martz doesn’t establish a run game early, we are going to see a repeat of the start of the 2010 season. And Jay Cutler is going to be under just as much pressure off the field as he was on the field against the Saints. Let’s hope the Bears are better prepared for the Green Bay Packers next week at Soldier Field. Stay tuned for more updates on injuries and game analysis.
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