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Chicago Bears Week 12: Takeaways

You can get my post-game analysis here and my feelings haven’t changed much at all. If anything I am more disgusted after watching the game tape. I don’t remember ever seeing a defensive line dominated that badly since my high school squad played a Mt Carmel team with Donovan McNabb, Simeon Rice, and Matt Cushing (TE for Steelers) on the roster. The Rams O-line vs the Bears D-line & LBs looked like a Varsity vs JV game, like men vs boys. I can’t believe how far the Bears defense has fallen.

The offense didn’t play nearly as bad, but there were still plenty of problems which I’ll get to below. The main issues were the goal-line offense, penalties, both offensive tackles, the use of Michael Bush, and some questionable decisions by coach Trestman.

Marc Trestman: The honeymoon is over. That’s two weeks in a row of Trestman decisions that turned out poorly. Here are the questionable decisions this week:

  • Not kicking a field goal on 4 & goal down by 10.
  • Taking 8 plays to get in the end zone from the 1 yard line.
  • Not even attempting to move the ball into field goal range with 1:11 to go in the half and trailing by 10.
  • Continuing to use Michael Bush in short yardage situations.

Michael Bush: I understand that the majority of Bush’s carries come when the defense is expecting the run. What I don’t understand is why the Bears continue to use Bush when he is clearly struggling in those situations. By any metric you choose to look at, Bush has been a sub-replacement level player this year. He is averaging 1.6 YPC and has an overall grade of -6 from PFF for the season. Bush doesn’t pass the eye test either. He looks slow and twice Sunday he tried to bounce the ball outside instead of hitting the hole with authority. He’s not a good receiver out of the backfield as we saw when he dropped an easy TD pass Sunday. The Bears have an elite RB in Matt Forte who can catch and run both inside and out. At a minimum, he would make the defense game plan for a few different scenarios instead of tipping off the defense that a slow run up the middle is coming their way when Bush enters the game. If the Bears are trying to protect Forte from the hits in those situation, then they should see what rookie Michael Ford can do. He can’t do any worse than Bush’s -.7 YPC and dropped TD pass Sunday.

Shea McLellin: So much for Shea McClellin’s “breakout” 3 sack game against the Packers. This was McClellin’s first game back (hamstring) since then and he looked just like the bust we thought he was before the victory over the Packers. The Rams ran right at McClellin like most teams have done and 150 of the Rams 258 rushing yards came from runs in McCellin’s direction, including Tavon Austin’s run that McCellin completely botched contain on. I understand that it was a clever misdirection play, but if McClellin is going to get overpowered physically on a regular basis, the least he can do is not blow his assignments on defense. That’s just lazy, undisciplined football. McClellin ended the game just as bad as he started it, getting pancaked on two of Bennie Cunningham’s 4th quarter runs on the drive that sealed the Rams victory.

Tavon Austin 65-yard TD run

Chris Conte: It started off with Conte’s bad angle (clip above) on Austin’s TD run, then the PI in the end zone on the Rams next scoring drive, then for the rest of the game Conte managed to avoid any low-light reel plays but didn’t do much positive either. As he’s been for most of the season, Conte was a step or two slow in coverage and continues to take poor angles on rushing plays. Pursuit angles are an instinctive skill and it’s clear that Conte doesn’t have good instincts. In the past he was protected by the Bears front seven, but now that runners are hitting the second level untouched, it’s clear how bad of an open field tackler Conte is. Unless the Bears have a plan to fix the defensive line by next season, they are going to need a new FS.

Julius Peppers: With Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman out, the Bears need someone to step up and be a leader on the defense. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be Julius Peppers. He was a non-factor Sunday. In 42 defensive snaps Peppers had 1 tackle. Way to step up Julius.

Jon Bostic: After three consecutive solid games, Bostic took a serious step back on Sunday with the worst overall grade on the Bears defense (-5.2). He did collect 5 tackles, but 3 of them were down field after significant yardage and he gave up 3 catches on the day, one of them a touchdown to Jared Cook. Bostic did seem to get hurt in the first half, so his poor play could have been due to trying to play through an injury. He’s been good lately, so hopefully Sunday was just a fluke.

Kaseem Greene: Don’t let the fact that Greene led the team in tackles fool you, he had a terrible game. The left side of the run defense (McClellin / Greene) was repeatedly gashed for long runs and on the Rams last TD drive, when the Bears needed a stop for a chance to win, Greene was tossed around like a rag doll by the Rams O-line. In Greene’s defense he probably isn’t ready to be playing this much, but he’s getting dominated so thoroughly that it makes me wonder if he ever will be.

Jermon Bushrod: The Bears allowed 17 QB hurries on Sunday and 7 of them were on Bushrod. If that wasn’t bad enough, Matt Forte gained only 4 yards on 5 runs to Bushrod’s hole. So in summary, he was a turnstile in pass pro and didn’t open any holes in the running game. His grade from PFF (-11.1) is the lowest I have ever seen. For a frame of reference, J’Marcus Webb’s worst grade as a Bears was -7.2.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McCown: The Bears actually out gained the Rams 424-406, but somehow only put up 21 points. That can’t be blamed on McCown (352 yards, 2 TDs) or any of the Bears offensive skill players as they all played well and graded out positively. McCown’s 4th quarter fumble & interception were in desperation time and don’t worry me at all. What hamstrung the Bears was ill-timed penalties and suspect play calling / substitutions in the red zone. Neither of those can be pinned on McCown and he continues to prove himself a capable NFL backup QB.

Tony Fiammetta: Tough day for the Bears starting FB. His first penalty cost the Bears a 29-yard run from Alshon Jeffery. His second penalty (facemask) sparked a melee that resulted in three Bears penalties. His most damaging play was inadvertently knocking the ball out of Matt Forte’s hand in the first quarter setting the Rams up for an easy score. He did contribute a little with 2 catches for 23 yards, but not enough to offset 30 penalty yards and a forced fumble.

Devin Hester: Even though his punt return for a TD didn’t count, it was nice to see that Hester still has the jets to take one to the house.

The Lions loss and the Packers tie mathematically keep the Bears in the hunt for the NFC North title, but the way the defense is playing and the recent inability to turn long drives into points, it’s hard to imagine the Bears wining enough to stay in contention. Maybe they can improve the defense, but it’s not like there are one or two weak spots, the entire unit is struggling and there is no easy fix. As a whole the offense is better this year, but the defense is so much worse it cancels out any offensive improvement. Right now the defense is a joke and unless that changes, the Bears will be watching the playoffs from home.

Twitter: @MikeFlannery_

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  • Gary Gettz

    I also think that going for it on 4th and 1 was bad situational football. First drive of the 2nd half. A 14-play, 79-yard drive that took almost 7 minutes off the clock. You have to get points out of that drive. Regardless of no matter how much you believe in your team, you have to take the ‘sure’ points. the Rams stop Bush then proceed to go down the field and 73 yards in about 5 minutes and kick a FG. It’s not just the points that the Bears left on the field with that call, it’s the time that they wasted doing it. Bad mistake by Trestman. First quarter, sure go for it. Fourth quarter when your down and need a TD to take the lead or get close, sure go for it. First drive of the second half when your down by 10 and you’ve just driven the ball 79 yards to get to 4th and 1 at the 1, no you’ve got to take the sure points.

    About Bush, the pass from McCown in the flat was more difficult to catch that people think. It was under thrown and slightly behind Bush. Running to your right and reaching down and back to catch the ball would’ve been hard for even Forte. A better thrown ball and he catches it. More on Bush. He’s obviously struggling which is most likely do to his lack of reps. Last season, he was pretty much used in all short yardage situations. Forte would get them down to the goal line and then be replaced by Bush. I sense that did not always go down well with Forte, which is probably we see in more short and goal plays this year than last. Also, when ever Bush is in the game in those situations they always try to have the center guards pull. They very rarely just try to just let bush go straight ahead. In many cases when an O lineman knows he’s got to get out quickly and pull, his sits back on his heals so that he can change direction quickly and pivot. This is a tell that D lineman and LBs know to watch for so they know the play is going to the outside. So they shoot the gaps and Bush is not fast or nimble enough to get by them. Bush is only part of the problem. The play calling is too predictable. Like in the Detroit game, McCown would’ve been better to use Bush as a decoy, audibled out of the run and tried to the WRs or TE with a fade or slant. You’ve got a big advantage with the big receivers, so use it. Not sure why he doesn’t do that, but he should be doing it.

    What can you say about the defense. No pass rush exposes a secondary that can’t cover any one. A secondary that can’t cover anyone means really no time to rush the passer. The LBs and safeties are constantly out of position, taking bad angles and biting on every play action fake they see. Bostic is playing more like a WILL than a MIKE. He’s constantly over pursuing and leaving the middle of the field which is not his job. Bostic is a big hitter for sure and I think he feels that’s what he needs to do, but it’s hurting the team because they need him to be in his gap and stabilize the middle more than anything else. He’s young so hopefully he’ll learn. The CBs play soft most of the time which means the QB-receiver timing is never thrown off: the receivers can get into their routes cleanly and no pass rush means the QB has all the time in the world to go through all of his progressions; Conversely, playing soft and letting the receivers run free and clear to where ever they want means that the DL has to win right away at the LOS ’cause they’re are going to be no coverage sacs and the QB can get the ball out quickly. If the receivers were being bumped off their routes, even just a step or two, then maybe that extra second or so would let the DL get in the QBs face and force a hurried throw or get the sac.

    I could write tons on how disappointing Chris Conte is but all I’ll say is Chris Conte = Second coming of Adam Archuleta (at least the AA who played one season for the Bears). Conte seems too small to stop the run (he’s constantly being run over), too slow to cover anyone with speed for any extended period of time, and too eager to stare at the backfield instead of paying attention to whom he’s covering. His tats and mustache look really cool though so I guess that’s something. At least, he’s got Major Wrong to keep him company as he struggles to be even mediocre. Both the safeties need to be rebooted, sat down in the film room and be told how horrible they really are playing because they don’t seem to get it.

    Mel Tucker may just simply be a horrible coach, but he made a mistake by not implementing his own system. Consideration for the Vets is nice, but you’ve got to have the personnel to play that style ’cause when you don’t it just plain sucks. I’d much rather have a coach use a system he’s familiar with and try to fit the players into it, then try and use a system he’s not too familiar with just to keep certain players happy. The coach needs to lead and the players need to play; you can’t have player coaches at this level on the defensive side. Honestly, the D hasn’t been uber scary the past few years, even playing that system and familiarity often leads to stagnation. Challenging his players earlier in camp to learn a new system and new roles would have probably been a good thing, but it’s way too late now. Next year, if he’s still around (I think he will be because Trestman is not going to get fired and Trestman is not going to fire Tucker), for better or worse I think we’re going to see a switch to a different defensive system.