“What the hell were they doing… They could have done pretty much whatever they wanted” – Anonymous Vikings player.
I was thinking the same thing. I know Robbie Gould is a heck of a kicker and I had little doubt that he was going to make that kick, but it still doesn’t make sense to pass up an opportunity to get a little closer. Field goal percentages increase as the distance decreases, it’s not rocket science. The Bears had two more plays to get Gould closer and increase his chances of success, but Trestman didn’t trust the offense enough to run another play. More on this later.
This is the third week in a row that Trestman’s decisions have left a bad taste in my mouth. I wrote last week that the honeymoon was over, but it’s way beyond that now. Fans are calling his head, which I think is ridiculous, but doesn’t change the fact that it’s true and that Trestman has lost the goodwill and grace period that comes with taking over for a coach who had lost the trust of the fan base.
As you know by now, the Bears lost a heart-breaker to the lowly Vikings 23-20 in OT. I led with Trestman, but there is plenty of blame to go around. The defense again was run over, this time by Adrian Peterson to the tune of 211 rushing yards. The defense also let Matt Cassell lead a 82-yard FG drive in the closing minutes of the game despite having Cassell in a 4th & 11 situation from his 8 yard line. The offense moved the ball at will, but again struggled in short yardage and on 3rd down and could only manage 20 points despite 480 total yards. For the third week in a row, penalties were an issue (6 this week, 29 last 3). There were a few bright spots (Jeffery, McCown, Forte, Peppers) but overall it was another pathetic performance by a team that doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the playoff conversation.
Josh McCown: He’s played so well that the morons are calling for the Bears to let Cutler go and give McCown the job next year. I’m all for bringing him back as the Bears #2 at a significant raise in pay after the way he’s played this year. He had another solid mostly mistake free game Sunday, but for the 2nd week in a row the Bears had over 400 yards and not enough points to show for it. At least some of the blame for that has to fall on the QB. Don’t get me wrong, he has exceeded all expectations, but 2-11 on 3rd down conversions isn’t going to cut it.
Alshon Jeffery: Wow. I’ve watched the highlights of the catch below at least 10 times now and it keeps getting better. Jeffery was a beast Sunday with 12 catches for 249 yards and 2 TDs. He’s a borderline #1 WR right now and keeps getting better. One position the Bears don’t have to worry about next year is WR.
Julius Peppers: It looked like someone snuck some HGH in Pepper’s Wheaties on Sunday. He had 2.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, and 8 total tackles. It looked like the 2008 version of Julius Peppers. He’s played at a pro bowl level 2 of the last 3 weeks so hopefully he’s snapping out of his early season funk.
Marc Trestman: I touched on his decision to kick on 2nd down in OT at the top of the article, but I’m not done. His rationale for the decision is that he wanted to avoid a fumble, penalty or “unique” play like what happened to the Vikings on their previous drive. So basically he didn’t trust his offense to not make a mistake on one play. The same offense that was gaining almost 5 yards per carry on the drive and as the Vikings player put it, doing whatever they wanted, but Trestman was afraid to run another play. Coward.
Short Yardage: The Bears had four 3rd & 1 situations Sunday and failed to convert any of them. I don’t know how that is possible, especially when they averaged 5.4 YPC on the day. After last week’s 7 carries for -5 yards, Michael Bush didn’t get any short yardage opportunities, but Forte didn’t fare much better on his two 3rd & 1 carries. This has been a problem all season and no matter what Trestman tries in short yardage situations (inside / outside runs, passes) nothing is successful.
DTs: What a difference some new blood makes. Jay Ratliff made his first start for the Bears Sunday and Steven Paea played for the first time in three weeks. It made a big difference. I know the Bears gave up 246 rushing yards, but for one week it wasn’t primarily the DTs fault. They did a good job clogging the middle and only 66 of Peterson’s yards 211 came on inside runs. Paea (1.8) had a sack and two pass deflections, Wooten (1.6) had 4 tackles and 2 pass deflections, usual scrub Landon Cohen played pretty well (1.3), and despite a limited snap count newcomer Jay Ratliff was effective (.3). It was the best performance by the interior of the d-line since week 3 vs the Steelers and a sign of hope that maybe the Bears defense can turn things around.
Missed Tackles: The Bears missed 11 tackles Sunday giving them 111 on the season which is the 2nd most in the league (Was-112). The Bears have had 6 games with 10 or more missed tackles in the same game. Before this season they have had 6 games with double-digit missed tackles in the last 5 years! The tackling has been pathetic all year and Sunday it was the usual suspects Conte (2), McClellin (2) and newcomer Craig Steltz (3) leading the way.
Craig Stelz: He started out good at least. On the Vikings first drive it seemed like Steltz made more plays (2 tackles) than Major Wright did the last three weeks. It was all downhill from there though as Stelz led the team in missed tackles and gave up 2 catches for 43 yards to Viking tight ends. On the day Steltz earned the 2nd lowest overall grade (-4.6) on defense, which is even worse than Major Wright’s worst per game average among all NFL safeties (-2.2). Looks like the Bears are stuck with Wright when he comes back. Great.
Devin Hester: He had some mishaps early. It’s so frustrating to watch when Hester runs backwards, but for the 2nd week in a row he proved he still has enough speed to make an impact on special teams. His 57-yard kick return with 0:20 left in the 4th quarter gave the Bears a chance to get in field goal position before the end of regulation. Obviously they screwed it up, but Hester proved he’s still a weapon in the return game.
Offensive Line: After a dreadful performance last week, the Bears offensive line bounced back with a solid game. Jermon Bushrod, who was destroyed by Robert Quinn last week, pretty much neutralized Bears nemesis Jared Allen. Allen had one sack but it was on a McCown scramble, not a mistake by Bushrod. The interior of the line kept McCown clean all day and blocked well enough in the run game that the Bears averaged 5.4 YPC on the day. Rookie Jordan Mills struggled a bit (1 sack, 3 hurries) but overall it was a solid day for the offensive line.
*All grades courtesy of ProFootballFocus