Chicago Bears struggle in loss to Broncos
Nov 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach John Fox and Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) meet at midfield following the second half at Soldier Field. Denver won 17-15. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Another grade that was difficult to come up with, the coaching staff had its ups and downs Sunday against a team that formerly employed Bears Head Coach John Fox and Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase.
Let’s start with the good.
I liked the Bears’ fight Sunday, particularly given that this would have been an easy game in which to rollover. Playing without some of their best starters on offense, the defense giving up yards in chunks and Osweiler having a good day, the Bears could have found a reason to mail it in. The 2014 Bears would have done so after it was 7-0 Denver.
Nov 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford (33) scores a touchdown during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field. Denver won 17-15. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Instead, the team scrapped with Denver, fighting back from deficit after deficit before Jeremy Langford – invisible for the entire game – scored a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left but was subsequently stopped on the two-point try.
The fact that Gase was able to coax 260 yards out of a limited passing game was also a good note. Missing their top two wide receivers, Gase was able to get Wilson and Bellamy involved Sunday, and the two responded with a combined 159 receiving yards.
The pass rush plan developed by Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio was also successful, as Adrian Amos, Willie Young, Eddie Goldman, Bruce Gaston and Chris Prosinski all tallied a sack. The Bears’ pass rush is inconsistent, but the scheme Sunday proved effective.
Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase looks on before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Now for the bad.
I’m at a loss to describe the problems with the red zone play calling. With about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bears had a first and goal at the Denver seven-yard-line. A swing pass to Langford got them to the Denver four. A poorly thrown pass in the corner of the endzone to Bennett fell incomplete. A short pass to Wilson on third down fell incomplete. Three plays inside the 10-yard-line, nary a run play to be found, a way-too-familiar storyline this season.
The Bears should have kicked a field goal on fourth down from the Denver four. That would have made the score 17-12 with about 10 minutes left, and more importantly, the Bears would not have needed the two-point conversion, which turned out to be the difference in the game.
Of course, there’s no way for them to know that, but there was enough time left that the Bears could have planned on getting the ball at least one or two more times. Kicking the field goal would have put them in a position where a touchdown wins it, not ties it.
Nov 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) intercepts a pass for Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford (33) during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Instead, Cutler’s fourth down pass fell incomplete.
The two-point play, a shotgun handoff to Langford, was a questionable call, but I’m not sure what else I would have called. Cutler had failed to complete most short throws near the goalline, and the offensive line had just cleared the way for Langford on the touchdown run.
Nov 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Owen Daniels (81)is tacked by Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Fangio also isn’t without blame. While his pass rushing schemes worked Sunday, whatever coverage and run defense plans he drew up should go in the burn barrel. The Bears, while they didn’t give up any long run plays, routinely allowed five- and six-yard chunks to Denver’s limited running game. As for the coverage … the Bears cornerbacks have looked good at times this year, but rarely were they in position to challenge completions against the green Osweiler.
On the whole, the coaching job wasn’t terrible, and now they have a short week to prepare for Green Bay, who looked solid against Minnesota later on Sunday. If Jeffery and Forte can play, the Bears have a faint shot of knocking off Green Bay and at least having the knowledge that they aren’t too far behind the Packers.
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