Well so much for the good-feelings from last week’s win over Green Bay. This Sunday’s game was hard to watch as the Bears left plenty of points on the board and lost a game that I feel they should have won by at least a touchdown. The missed opportunities on offense allowed the Lions to sneak out of Chicago with a 21-19 win and wasted a solid effort by the defense who held the explosive Lions offense under 21 points and held Calvin Johnson under 100 yards for the 5th consecutive time. At this time last week, the Bears were tied for 1st place in the North and in control of their playoff destiny, now they are a full game back of the Lions, can’t win the tiebreaker, they lost Pro-Bowl CB Charles Tillman for the year, and Cutler added two more injuries (high-ankle, left wrist) to his existing groin problem. What a difference one game can make. Here are my takeaways from the game:
Marc Trestman: From hero to goat in one week. Trestman’s stubborn refusal to pull Cutler despite obvious injury(s) may of cost the Bears the game, but unlike most Bears fans I can’t fault Trestman for sticking with Cutler. If Cutler says he can play, than what message would it send to his captain and his team if he pulls him? As good as Josh McCown has looked in limited duty, Jay Cutler is the only QB on the roster who can lead the Bears to a Super Bowl. Trestman showed faith in his QB, a team captain and supposed leader on the field, by taking him at his word and giving him a chance to win the game. It didn’t work out and may of cost Cutler a few games in the process, but I understand the decision. Personally I think he should have pulled him at the start of the 4th quarter when it was clear to everyone that Cutler wasn’t 100%, but if things would have went slightly different (Alshon catches either TD pass, no hold on Forte’s TD run, etc) then no one would be complaining. Same thing with Trestman’s decision to go for it on 4th & 1 in the 1st quarter. Last week he was a brilliant gambler, this week he is a moron? C’mon, football is a game of inches and the Bears didn’t get them this week. Save your blame for the offensive & defensive lines which I’ll cover below.
Jay Cutler: Is anyone questioning Cutler’s toughness this week? I wonder if past comments from the media and rival players about Cutler’s machismo had anything to do with him trying to gut this one out. Cutler was clearly less than 100% out there Sunday. Every time the camera panned to Cutler he was limping , holding his groin, or flexing his swollen left hand. It was obvious to anyone watching that he was injured, and in hindsight he should have told the coaches as much. The O-line didn’t do him any favors by letting the Lions immoral d-lineman have their way with him after almost every pass. At some point you need to realize you are hurting your team and stop trying to prove to everyone how tough you are. Cutler left the game with two new injuries (high-ankle, left wrist) and is out for at least this week’s Ravens game if not longer.
Offensive line: After performing admirably in the win over GB, the left side of the o-line fell apart Sunday. The Lions have a fierce pass rush, but giving up 19 hurries, 9 hits, and 2 sacks is unacceptable in a must-win home game. After grading out as the Bears best lineman against GB, Matt Slausen was the worst Sunday grading out a -4.5 (according to PFF). Kyle Long was the only Bear lineman who graded out positively on the day. The rest of the O-line hung an injured Cutler out to dry.
Brandon Marshall: One guy who can’t be blamed for Sunday’s loss is Marshall, who had another stellar day both catching the ball (7-139-2) and run blocking (2.4 grade).
Alshon Jeffery: 9 catches for 118 yards is a heck of a game, but it could have been better. Jeffery had his hands on two different passes in the end zone and couldn’t bring in either one. If he does, the Bears probably pull this one out as they didn’t get in the end zone on either drive after the drops. I’m being a little tough on Jeffery here as he has become a legitimate weapon in the passing game, but great WRs make those plays.
Defensive line: On Matt Stafford’s 35 pass attempts the Bears d-line totaled 0 sacks, 2 hits, and 2 hurries. Gross. If those stats weren’t bad enough, the Lions gained 145 yards on the ground. The Bears didn’t blitz much in this one as the rest of the team was focused on stopping Calvin Johnson or Reggie Bush out of the backfield, so it was up to the D-line to get pressure on Stafford and clog running lanes. They did neither. Stephen Paea was the only Bears d-linemen who graded out positively on the day (1.7).
Shea McClellin / David Bass: It’s too bad McClellin missed the game with a hamstring injury and couldn’t build on his 3 sack performance against the Packers. At least Shea doesn’t have to worry about losing his job to rookie David Bass, who made no impact in his first start and finished with the worst overall grade on defense (-3.3). I’d be surprised if we see Bass in the starting lineup again.