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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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