Well that sucked. I wish the Bears losing to a beatable Redskins squad was the worst news of the day, but instead news broke this afternoon that both Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs are out for at least 4 weeks each. So basically the Bears most important players on both sides of the ball are out for their next 3 games (@GB, DET, BAL). At least one of the weeks is a bye, but of course this is probably the Bears toughest three game stretch on the schedule. It’s a very real possibility the Bears will be underdogs in all three and could be looking up at most of the North with a 4-6 record when Cutler & Briggs return. Sorry for the doom & gloom outlook, but with a back-up QB and a defense that was bad even with Briggs, it’s hard to find anything to be positive about.
Jay Cutler: All around awful day for Cutler. From his first pass of the day which bounced a few yards short to his groin injury on a play that looked relatively harmless, Cutler just didn’t have it today. Maybe he would have found his touch in the 2nd half, but after three very solid games in a row, this was looking like a regression game against a defense that has struggled to stop the pass most of the season (25 in the league before Sunday). As bad as he played Sunday (8.3 QB rating), he is still the best QB on the roster and the Bears will struggle to win games without him. Hurry back Jay.
Josh McCown: Before the game my friends and I were joking about how screwed the Bears would be if Cutler got hurt. There were jokes about McCown being a high-school coach last year and comparisons to Bears luminaries like Jonathon Quinn and Shane Mathews. Then our imagined worst possible scenario transpired and McCown’s first throw made us wish we still had Jason Campbell. There were jokes about being shut out the rest of the way, doing shots for every McCown completion, and bets that DeAngelo Hall would have more catches by the end of the game than Brandon Marshall. Then McCown came out and played like a seasoned vet (119.6 QB rating) leading the Bears to 24 2nd half points and putting the Bears in position to win the game. It will get more difficult for McCown once teams start game-planning specifically for him, but for one half of football at least he gave Bears fans hope that the season wasn’t a lost cause without Jay Cutler.
Lance Briggs: I’m not sure which loss hurts the Bears more, Jay Cutler or Lance Briggs? At least McCown was decent as Cutler’s replacement. When Briggs left with around 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, the defense fell apart giving up 234 yards and 3 touchdowns. The defense is the playing the worst football I can remember and losing their best player and captain could result in unprecedentedly bad play for a team that has prided itself on its defense for as long as I can remember. After Sunday’s disaster, the Bears rank 25th in the league in total defense and it’s most likely going to get worse without Briggs. To Briggs credit he was playing well Sunday before getting hurt. In a little more than one half of football, Briggs had 8 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and 1 hit on RG3.
The defense: Gross. There is no other way to describe giving up 499 yards of total offense and blowing a lead with 4 minutes to go in the game. This was the worst performance yet by the Bears defense and that worries me even more than Cutler’s MRI results. There is no one coming back from injury and no impact players on the waiver wire that can help. Suddenly a team that has been defined by their defense my whole life has a bottom tier defense and can’t win even when the offense scores 41 points! There were signs this was coming the last few weeks, but I didn’t want to believe it. I’m depressed.
Pass rush: The Bears did manage to sack RG3 once (James Anderson) and did get credited for 11 hurries which is their 3rd highest total of the season, but those hurries didn’t translate into stops. RG3 was able to scramble out of pressure almost every time and either gain yardage on the ground or find a (wide) open receiver. The Redskins were 7-13 on 3rd downs (54%). To give you an idea how bad that is, Denver leads the league with a 52% 3rd down conversion percentage. The Bears still can’t generate pressure just rushing four and while they did blitz more this week, the results were negligible. For the 2nd week in a row, Corey Wooten was the only d-lineman who generated consistent pressure with 4 of the team’s 11 hurries.