Chicago Bears Week 11: Takeaways
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears lost another winnable game this week, 17-15 to the Broncos. There were numerous mistakes in all three phases of the game and perhaps most glaringly by the coaching staff.
The Bears were down 17-9 at the start of the 4th quarter and things looked bleak before Jay Cutler drove the Bears down the field with ease. He had an impressive 18-yard run with a late hit tacked on after and then a beautiful 40-yard lob to Marquess Wilson to get inside the Broncos ten-yard line.
Then the Bears offense stalled in the red zone for the 4th time of the game, but instead of taking the three points and cutting the lead to five with ten minutes to go… John Fox decided to go for it on 4th and goal from the 4-yard line. As we all know by now, Cutler threw an incomplete pass to Jeremy Langford and the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
Enough has been written by smarter people than me about Fox’s decision to go for it, so I won’t harp on it too much. I just felt that with 10 minutes left the Bears should have taken the three points and cut the lead to five. According to Fox, he went for the TD because he didn’t know if the Bears would get that close to the end zone again.
To me that shows a disturbing lack of faith in his offense, but to Fox’s credit the Broncos do have the #1 defense in the NFL and the Bears had struggled to move the ball all day. I also appreciate that the normally tight-lipped Fox gave the media his reasoning for the move. Whether you agree with the decision or not, it came back to haunt the Bears.
After losing the ball on downs the Bears defense allowed the Broncos to move the ball fairly easily to about midfield before they were able to stop the Broncos on 3rd and short after good penetration from rookie Eddie Goldman.
The Bears were starting to move the ball again but Von Miller beat Charles Leno Jr and hit Cutler’s throwing arm forcing a fumble, the ball bounced off the back of Patrick Omameh and right into the arms of a Broncos d-lineman. It was just a bad break for the Bears and things looked about over, but the defense stepped up again.
After two short Bronco runs, they attempted a play-action roll out but DC Vic Fangio had his defense ready for it and Willie Young read the play perfectly forcing Osweiler to give up on the play. The Broncos punted the ball back to the Bears at the 35-yard line with 1:49 to go and just one timeout left.
Mr 4th Quarter had one more chance to bring the Bears back… and Cutler came through again driving the Bears down the field, scrambling out of trouble, throwing accurate passes, and taking advantage of Martellus Bennett’s size advantage to draw a pass interference call. Cutler was poised in the pocket and ran the two-minute drill to perfection before the Bears finally scored a TD on a 2-yard run by Jeremy Langford with :24 seconds left in the game.
After deciding against a field goal on their previous drive, the Bears needed a two-point conversion to tie the game. Despite struggling to run the ball all game (3.4 ypc) and moving the ball well through the air their last two drives, the Bears decided to run the ball with Langford and he was stuffed for no gain and the Bears lost another game they had a chance to win.
The Broncos defense came into the game as the #1 defense in yards allowed and were impressive Sunday holding the Bears rushing attack to just 86 yards. The lack of a running game forced Cutler to throw more than the Bears probably would have liked, but Cutler was able to throw for 265 yards with almost another 100 yards in pass interference penalties.
The Bears were able to move the ball well despite missing their two top offensive play-makers (Forte, Jeffery), but just couldn’t convert in the red zone with three field goals, a failed 4th down attempt, and finally a TD on their final drive but a failed 2-point conversion that ultimately cost them the game.
A win Sunday would have given the Bears legit playoff hopes with a relatively easy schedule after their Thanksgiving match-up with the Packers, but at 4-6 now they can only afford one more loss to even have a chance at the playoffs. The Bears arguably should have won their last seven games and are a much better team than their record reflects, but in the grand scheme of things this isn’t a Super Bowl roster and a high draft pick may be better off for the Bears long-term future.
I’ll be breaking down both the good and bad individual performances below in this week’s takeaways.
Next: Week 11 Takeaways