I was wrong about the Saints. In our Staff Picks, I called the Saints overrated based on the fact that their schedule has been relatively weak ( TB, AZ, MIA) and three of their four games were at home. I take it all back after watching them come into Soldier Field and handily beat the Bears 28-17. I’m ready to admit that the Saints are a better team than the Bears. It was the first time this year I felt the Bears weren’t the better team on the field. The Bears only had 1 turnover, Cutler threw for 358 yards, and the defense held Brees under 300 for the first time 11 games, but they still lost and it wasn’t as close as the final score made it seem. The Bears lost because they aren’t as talented as the Saints right now. Luckily it’s only week 6, so the Bears have time to improve, but if they are going to be anything more than a 1 & done team in the playoffs, they need to get a lot better because they will probably see this New Orleans team again in the playoffs.
Despite the loss, there were a few bright spots for the Bears which I’ll cover below after I complain for a bit:
Bears D-Line: Where is the pressure? If you give a QB as good as Drew Brees time to throw, he is going to find an open receiver. The Bears were content to rush Brees with only 4 D-lineman most of the day and it was a mistake. DT Nate Collins did get to Brees for a sack in the 1st quarter, but as the game went on there was less pressure on Brees and he picked the Bears apart with short passes. I understand the risk in blitzing, but you aren’t going to beat Drew Brees without pressure and I am surprised the Bears didn’t at least attempt a few blitzes to rattle him. This is becoming an ongoing problem.
Run game: Going into the 4th quarter, Matt Forte had 8 carries. That isn’t close to enough for arguably the Bears best offensive player. The Bears need to establish the run earlier in the game, especially when the line is struggling to keep Cutler clean. The Bears have become a one-dimensional team early in their last two games (both losses). It was understandable against Detroit since they were down big, but this game was close in the first half and the Bears were too pass heavy in my opinion.
Jermon Bushrod: For all the talk about Aaron Kromer being familiar with the Saints offense, it seemed like the advantage was the Saints being familiar with Jermon Bushrod. They sent multiple bliltzers to Bushrod’s side often in the first half and it created confusion between Bushrod and Forte and resulted in 2 sacks and a fumble. The Saints third sack came on a delayed blitz up the middle. To the Bears credit they made some adjustments at half and didn’t allow another sack, but the early blitzes put the Bears in a couple 3rd & long situations and kept them from putting together any prolonged drives till the end of the half.
Earl Bennett: Do the Patriots still need a WR? I know I am overreacting a little here to the 4th down drop that basically ended the Bears comeback chances, but it’s not like Bennett has played great all season. He’s been a non-factor and with the emergence of Jeffery and the addition of Martellus Bennett in the offseason, the Bears have 3 solid receiver options. I think it’s time to give Joe Anderson or even rookie Marquis Wilson a shot to see what they can do with the 3rd WR slot. If the Bears can get something on the trade market for Earl, then that’s gravy.
Jay Cutler: With the Bears down by 13 and 10:41 left on the clock, Jay Cutler was in the midst of his “Mr. 4th Quarter” routine, but it was interrupted by Earl Bennett dropping passes on 3rd & 4th downs. It is difficult to write about Earl’s drops without using some colorful language, but let’s just say the drops are unacceptable and leave it at that. Cutler finished with a season high 358 yards and despite his 1st quarter fumble, played very well even though he was under constant pressure all game. This loss can’t be pinned on Jay. Or…