Bears Takeaways – Week 14

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /
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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

10.) Josh Bellamy isn’t an NFL receiver

How is it possible that a player who has played football his whole life still doesn’t know how to catch a football correctly? On my JV football team in high school there was player who jumped whenever the ball came to him whether he needed to or not. He was made fun of for it mercilessly.

Even JV quality high school football players knew that was fundamentally wrong, but somehow Josh Bellamy has an NFL job at receiver even though he is still catching the ball like a bad high school football player.

Bellamy had two more big drops this week. One of a deep third-down pass on an impressive throw from a harried Matt Barkley and the other with the game on the line crucial 4th & 11 during the Bears final drive. If Bellamy catches the ball that hit him in the shoulder, the Bears are in field goal range and probably (who knows with Barth) send the game to overtime.

The Bears are battered at the receiver position and don’t have many other options, but if Bellamy keeps dropping important passes than either the Bears need to find another option or Barkley needs to avoid throwing to Bellamy in clutch situations.

In Bellamy’s defense, he did make a couple of nice catches on Sunday (3-45), but his awful hands and amateurish tendency to jump when the ball is headed his way are costing the Bears games. In the grand scheme of things, it’s better the Bears lose to improve their draft slot, but Barkley and Bellamy’s teammates deserve better.

11.) Not all the Bears young players are showing signs of promise

As good as ILB Nick Kwiatkoski played, his partner at ILB John Timu was awful on Sunday. Timo showed some potential in a brief audition late last season, but on Sunday looked slow and tentative.

Timu is never going to be an asset in pass coverage, but he was one of the Bears best run stoppers last year. He’s got natural football instincts which usually puts him in the right place against the run and he has the strength to shed blocks and make stops.

Against the Lions, Timu was not only bad against the pass but was also a non-factor against the run. It looks like Timu just doesn’t have enough speed to make plays on the edges and if he can’t shed blockers consistently, he’s not going to have much value between the tackles either.

Timu was a key factor in one of the Bears most embarrassing defensive plays of the season when QB Matt Stafford scrambled for a seven-yard, game-winning touchdown run. Timu had a clear shot at Stafford a few yards from the goal-line, but somehow missed him and missed badly.

Timu needs to play well whenever he’s given a chance if he wants to be part of the Bears ILB group next year. If he plays like he did against the Lions, Timu won’t be on the roster much longer.

Another player who had a clear shot on Stafford’s scramble was safety Deon Bush. He was drafted due to his potential as a big-hitting safety. When a slowish QB like Stafford can scramble between the hashes and make an in-the-box safety like Bush miss badly, it doesn’t bode well for Bush’s ability to play well at the NFL level.

Bush also missed what should have been an easy open field tackle on ancient WR Anquan Boldin and was a step or two late in coverage all game. It’s depressing that the Bears passed on QB Dak Prescott in the 4th round to draft Bush and if he doesn’t play better the last three weeks, the Bears may have nothing to show for the selection in 2017.

12.) The referees were worse than usual

I mentioned the suspect refereeing at the top of the post, but there were even more plays that showed the refs incompetence on Sunday. The consecutive questionable holding calls, missed pass interference on Lions corner Nevin Lawson, and two Bears PI calls on the Lions game-winning drive have been mentioned often, but the refs screwed up plenty of calls on both sides on Sunday.

The Bears corners got away with a few clear pass interference penalties earlier in the game, but the Lions offensive line got away with at least five blatant holds that I noted in my review of the tape. OLBs Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee were each held twice on infractions right in front of a referee and Willie Young also taken down on a play that the Lions converted a third and long.

I know that some degree of holding occurs on almost every passing play,  but there were at least five holds committed by the Lions o-line that were way worse than the two called on the Bears on their last drive. If the refs are going to let 0-lineman get away with minor holding infractions all game, then they can’t start calling a different game the last two minutes. It’s amateurish and showed even more incompetence than usual for the beleaguered NFL ref crew.

Random Notes:

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /
  • Daniel Braverman had his first NFL catch, but it didn’t count. On the Bears ill-fated final drive, Braverman made a great catch for a 23-yard game to move the Bears to the Lions 20-yard-line. It was ultimately called back due to a questionable Ted Larson hold, but had to feel good for Braverman, who has spent the whole season on the Bears practice squad.
  • After being mostly a non-factor when any QB except Brian Hoyer was under center, WR Cameron Meredith had a nice game with six catches for 72 yards and a sweet touchdown catch. Meredith has shown enough this year to be in the mix for the Bears third receiver job next year. Possibly the #2 spot if the Bears lose Alshon Jeffery or Kevin White gets hurt again. Meredith, a former college QB, was another good undrafted find for GM Ryan Pace.
  • After being inactive in week 13 (coaches decision), rookie Jonathan Bullard not only suited up but played significant snaps on Sunday. He finished with just one tackle, but was around the ball often and held his own at the line of scrimmage. I had high hopes for Bullard and thought he was a steal in the third round, but he hasn’t shown much so far. Bullard needs a strong showing in the final three games to be in the mix for a rotation spot in 2017.