Chicago Bears Week 12: Takeaways

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It’s hard to get excited about back-to-back 21-13 home wins against two of the worst teams in the NFL, but the Bears are now 5-6 and technically still in the playoff picture with a divisional battle at Detroit looming on Thanksgiving morning. With the Bears struggling to score at home against both the Vikings and Bucs I am terrified how they are going to do against one of the top 3 defenses in the NFL, but anything can happen. Deep down part of me still thinks the Bears would have been better off losing the last two games to speed up the rebuilding process, but I can’t help rooting for the Bears to win and as long as the Bears are technically still in the hunt for a playoff spot I’ll still be hoping for miracles. Here are my takeaways from this week’s win:

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1.) Jay Cutler stunk

After a statistically solid outing against the Vikings, Cutler crapped the bed in the first half against the Bucs on Sunday. Granted the O-line didn’t give him time to do much, but even when they did Cutler’s passes were all over the place. It’s not like he was making difficult throws either, which I’ll get to in detail later, it was Trestman’s usual dink and dunk offense that Cutler was having a hard time executing. He was so bad in the first half that with an 11 point lead and about 12 minutes to play in the 4th, it seemed like Trestman was afraid to let Cutler throw the ball. It was an ugly all around game for Cutler who ended the day 17-27, for just 130 yards and 1 TD. He didn’t throw any interceptions, but he did fumble which is becoming a weekly occurrence. Cutler will have his hands full with the Lions fierce D-line on Thursday and will need to be MUCH better if the Bears are going to have a chance to pull off a Thanksgiving upset.

2.) Marc Trestman’s play-calling was simplistic and boring

So after the Bears gained 468 total yards against the Vikings last week on an almost perfect balance of runs and deep passes, Trestman decided to bring back his dink & dunk, John Shoop style offense. The Bears rarely threw the ball over 10 yards and didn’t take one shot deep down field all game even after Cutler’s two long TD passes last week. I really thought that Trestman had a breakthrough last week. I thought he remembered that he had four receiving options 6’3 and over and a QB with one of the strongest arms in the NFL. I guess I was wrong. Maybe Trestman was trying to lull the Lions to sleep for Thursdays game. Make them think that all the Bears ever do is run the ball and throw TE screens. That’s what I’m hoping at least because if I see a repeat of Trestman’s play-calling from this week, I will be taking my Thanksgiving nap a few hours early.

3.) Trestman’s cowardly play-calling almost cost the Bears the game.

Up 21-10 with the ball and 11 minutes to go, the Bears had a chance to put the game out of reach with another score. Instead of putting their foot on the Bucs throat, Trestman got ultra conservative with runs up the middle and his seemingly favorite play, the 2-yard screen pass. I think the longest pass Cutler threw in the 4th quarter was a 6-yard slant on 3rd & 8. Is Trestman that afraid of Cutler turning the ball over? It’s a bad sign when the coach doesn’t trust the highest paid player in the NFL to make a sound decision in the 4th quarter of a home game with an 11 point lead against a 2-8 team. Pathetic.

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4.) At least Trestman let the rookies play this week.

One of my primary complaints last week was the fact that Trestman benched most of the rookies, who had been playing between 25-50% of most games, in order to secure a victory against the lowly Vikings. As much as I’d like to think otherwise, the Bears aren’t winning the Super Bowl this year, and probably not even making the playoffs so the point of this season should be developing the Bears young core. Or at least figuring out which players are worth building around. Last week top picks like Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Ka’Deem Carey, and Brock Vereen didn’t even see the field. Same with promising young players like Christian Jones, Al Louis-Jean, and Cornelius Washington. Trestman basically sacrificed player development so the Bears could eek out a victory and save his job for one more week. It was a pathetic display of self-preservation and I’m clearly still pissed about it. None of those players saw more than 9 snaps last week. Hopefully someone upstairs (Emery, a McCaskey) noticed and reminded Trestman that the Bears will be even worse next year if they don’t develop some young talent this season. This week all of the young players were back to playing almost exactly the snap percentage that they were playing before last week. Christian Jones had the best game of the rookies with 5 tackles and a key fumble recovery of David Bass’s strip sack on McCown. Maybe Trestman was trying to send them a message, but that seems ridiculous considering that the Bears young players haven’t been the crux of the problem on either side of the ball. Hopefully Trestman got the message loud and clear because if the Bears don’t develop any of their young talent this year (they actually have some!) then this season was a total waste.

5.) I felt like I was watching a Lovie Smith defense in the 2nd half

The Bears forced 4 turnovers on Sunday and it really should have been 6. Both Tim Jennings and Jon Bostic dropped what looked like easy INTs. Bostic’s was especially bad as he made a great read on the play and would have had a pick-6 had the ball not somehow slipped between his arms. Despite a couple missed opportunities, the Bears did force 4 turnovers and were actively going for the ball. It was the most aggressive I have seen the Bears defense since week 3 vs the Jets. On a day where the offense only generated 204 total yards, the turnovers were what won the game for the Bears. I can’t imagine how pissed Lovie was afterwards, but it puts a smile on my face thinking about it.

6.) Matt Forte is the Bears best player

With Jay Cutler struggling with his accuracy, Marc Trestman afraid to take any chances with his play-calling, and the Bears trailing the lowly Bucs 10-0 at halftime… Matt Forte came out in the 2nd half and dominated. Forte had two touchdown runs in the 3rd quarter to give the Bears the lead. Then despite the Bucs and everyone in the stadium knowing the Bears were afraid to throw the ball, Forte battled for 89 tough yards on 23 carries and caught 5 passes for another 23 yards, giving him 112 hard-fought total yards and keeping the Bucs offense off the field long enough for the Bears to get a victory. Forte is criminally underrated and easily a top 5 RB in the NFL.