Yesterday, the Bears lost to a Seattle team that was 3-18 in their last 21 road games. Was this a game the Bears could have won? What went wrong? And is the NFC North as bad a division as the NFC West? John Scanlon and I talk about the loss, and what can be done. What are your thoughts? Did we miss Lance Briggs too much? Is Cutler getting shell-shocked? Should everyone in the front-office just be fired, or do you think they should be deported to Botswana as well? Weigh in, and tell us how these problems get fixed. Or, just vent.
John-The offense looked pretty pathetic. Sure, there were a few BIG downfield passes, but consistency is the problem. There are two main reasons that the Bears couldn't move the ball. First, it all starts up front and the line couldn't pick up Seattle's blitzes (especially by safeties). As a result, Cutler was unable to stand upright ling enough to throw the ball well. This is also partly why we were unable to, and have been unable to, convert a third down. Secondly, Martz's game planning was atrocious. The Bears threw the ball way to often. If I remember correctly, Forte had a pretty amazing game the previous week. The Bears shouldn't be throwing more just because Cutler is back. The Seahawks were able to send blitzers freely and keep only a few guys in coverage because they knew pressure could be applied easily and only a few defensive backs would be needed to stop a potential pass. If the Bears want to be a competitive contender, they need to have more balance on offense and address the pathetic line play (lookin' your way, Tice).
Don-Well John, to me the story of this game begins and ends on the offensive line. Too many guys missing way too many assignments. That line is lost out there. What's most distressing about them, is that they are changing Jay Cutler's mechanics, and not for the better. He's tentative, and he's hearing footsteps. When he wasn't rushing throws, he was holding the ball too long. At times he looked as though he was afraid to lift the ball to throw (or even pump fake) because of all the traffic whirling around the backfield. There were some nice completions, particularly to Johnny Knox, and the run game showed signs of life in the 1st quarter.But, 0-12 on third downs? A safety?
John-The Bear's defense did not play well. This most definitely is not because Briggs missed the game. I thought Iwuh filled in adequately, even though he missed a few tackles on Marshawn Lynch (he wasn't the only one...). Peppers was basically invisible due to great play by Okung. No pass rush was generated whatsoever, and this lead our secondary into getting burned multiple times on pass plays. Hasselbeck is not a great quarterback, but he sure played like he was. He tore up the Bear's D by hitting Mike Williams up deep a few times. Our inability to tackle Lynch, generate a pass rush, or guard receivers were the defining factors of our poor defensive performance.
Don-While the defense did give up two long TD drives (80, 92) and the Bears were not getting great penetration, they played well enough to win, for most of the game. They gave up a TD on 37 yard drive in the first half, that was mostly indicative of the offense's inability to move the ball. Having said that, while there were some hard hits, the success of this defense is predicated on getting turnovers, which they failed to do yesterday.
John-Special teams was the one phase that the Bears actually excelled in. In terms of coverage, they stopped Tate many times for negative yardage on punt returns. They also were able to primarily contain Leon Washington on kick returns as well (he only broke one big return). In terms of kicking/punting, Brad Maynard did a solid job (like always). Gould hit a field goal, but missed the 54 yarder (stupid call to kick there). Where the Bears really excelled was in the return game. Manning broke loose for a kick return touchdown (which was called back). Hester had potentially the most important play of the game (for the Bears), which was the punt return touchdown. He not only set a record with it, but it kept us in the game. My only problem was that our average starting position was atrocious.
Don-Yep. Special teams did it's job yesterday. Golden Tate never got anywhere for Seattle, and Hester seems to be back and on his way to breaking the return record. On the negative side, they couldn't muster any return yardage in the first half and no one in a Bears uniform even got close to the onside kick. And yes, Robbie Gould shouldn't be asked to kick that far, unless it's the last play of the game. Along with the defense, these guys have kept in every game this year.
John-I had multiple problems with the coaches in the game. Martz threw the ball WAY too much and we never had a pretense of a running game. This is even worse considering how we ran the ball last week. Whoever made the call to kick the 54 yard field goal screwed up. Everyone knows that even though Robbie is "Good as Gould", he can't kick very far. Also, it is apparent that Tice may not be the offensive line guru he is said to be. While Cutler only got sacked 6 times (better than 10, right?), there was constant pressure and plays couldn't develop. Maybe this is as good as this combination of linemen could play together and Tice is doing fine, but if so, Jerry needs to be out of a job (don't get me started on Angelo). Overall, the coaching was very mediocre, with many flaws that need to be addressed.
Don-The Bears have a 'College of Coaches' in Smith, Martz, Tice, and Marenelli. So why does all the decision-making look so bad? With a stitched-together o-line, and the franchise qb returning from a concussion two bare weeks from an NFL record setting mauling, why on Earth is he being asked to hold the ball so long? I'm wondering if we're not witnessing the undoing of an All-Pro quarterback. And that begs another question: Why did we abandon the running game, the minute we got behind in the score? There were still 3 quarters left to play, and even a below-average running game, would have taken some of the (physical and mental) pressure off your qb. As much as Bears fans have complained about "caretaker quarterbacks" and uninspired play-calling in the past, this is the time for run plays and short passes that get the ball out of Cutler's hands in a hurry. In this year's parity-intensive NFL, and an incredibly underachieving NFC North, a team that minimizes offensive mistakes and relies on it's defense and special teams, is a shoo-in. And fix the line. Seriously. Fix it.