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Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Hurts

This is a tough loss. It's a damn painful loss. I don't remember ever seeing a game in which so much went so wrong for the Bears and yet they stayed so close till the bitter end. I have to congratulate the 2010 Chicago Bears. I really do. I had them at 11-5 before the year and would have been okay with the knowledge that they would bow out in the NFC title game. Of course, in this situation it's hard to see the positives. So many missed plays, missed opportunities. An absolutely piss poor gameplan.Why wait till Hanie is in to switch to the gun? Why try an end-around on 3rd and four with a hot Hanie? Why was Todd Collins Ever the #2 quarterback for a playoff contender?

Those are the things that will keep me up for awhile. I know already that I'll spend months defending Jay Cutler even more than usual. What I know about Jay Cutler is that I've seen him take 87 sacks in two years. I've seen him twice get hit in the chin so hard that it left him bleeding and he came back into both games with stitches. I've seen him refuse to slide multiple times. I've seen him do this:

So no. I don't think he lacks toughness, and as usual I find the brayings of a bunch of asses sitting at home on their couches to be absolutely ridiculous. If the Bears ever get Jay the protection up front that he deserves, well, he'll answer his critics resoundingly. But I fear that's a long way aways. The sad part is that I think Jay Cutler played a very poor first half this game. I really do. I think it would be fair for people to question his accuracy or decision making, but alas, take the lowest possible reason you can find to criticize someone and they'll do it every time. It's sad. Very sad.

As for the rest of the team? Well, there were some players out there who did some really great things today. Brian Urlacher shrugged off a few early series and some bad missed tackles to come back and have a monster game, although I just can't see how the hell he managed to get tackle by Aaron Rodgers on what should have been a pick six. I just can't. Matt Forte was the Bears only offense for most of the game. Caleb Hanie nearly pulled off the impossible and threw a damning wrench into my respect for Lovie Smith by forcing me to ask why the hell Todd Collins was still #2 on the depth chart after the way he played earlier this year.

Obviously there was plenty of bad. The offensive line got manhandled on the interior. I love Olin Kreutz. I really do, but the statement no one wanted to make all year is that many of the problems the Bears had on the line were his fault. Pressuring the QB consistently starts with a good push by your defensive tackles, and teams have done that against Kreutz all year long. He struggled mightily against BJ Raji and Cullen Jenkins. He had his moments, and he's certainly been in slow decline. I wouldn't even be opposed to bringing him back next year, so long as his replacement is on the roster. That goes for Roberto Garza as well. Chris Williams played well at guard as the year went on. Omiyale and Webb actually played well enough to at least compete to keep their jobs next year. But Garza and Kreutz are on thin ice. Greg Olsen also disappeared in this game, but I have to question whether that was his fault, Martz's fault, or just the lack of a QB to throw to him.

On the defense, well, Tommie Harris and the rest of the defensive tackles really disappeared early. The Packers actually ran the ball well early on and that allowed Rodgers his early success. Julius Peppers had a few pressures and played well in spots, but was also neutralized more than I would have hoped. It's hard to bitch when the Bears gave up just 14 offensive points to the Packers and really held Rodgers to some miserable numbers, but this was still a team loss.

I'd really like to throw the coaching staff under the bus, here. The Bears actually played outside of themselves on defense early on. They stacked the box and over-committed to stopping the run. That doesn't make a fucking load of sense. Green Bay hasn't run the ball well all year long. You line up in your usual defense, assume that you can make a few plays and you focus on stopping Aaron Rodgers. You don't overreact to a few early runs and allow it to shake you. They gave up the big play on those two TD drives and it hurt them big. That isn't their game.

As for Mike Martz, well...this one hurt. Martz appeared to attempt to run the exact same game plan against Green Bay this week that he ran in week 17. Apparently the fact that they scored just 3 points was lost on him. Why he refused to move Cutler out from under center really puzzles me. During the Jets game, Cutler took some shots early, threw a pick six, and was really out of rhythm. Rather than back away, Martz put Jay in the gun, threw early, got him going, kept him from those hits, and they crawled back into the game. Today Martz waited until Hanie was in the game before resorting to the gun. He also didn't attempt to roll Cutler out or do any of the things that had brought them success against defenses of this sort before. He didn't go away from the run, which was nice, but his approach to the passing game was erratic. And that end-around. They had to call a timeout for that? How about throwing the slant to Earl Bennett on that play, since he was uncovered at the line of scrimmage? Or how about running the ball with Forte, since they had struggled to stop him in the second half. A reverse is a low % play with a very, very big chance of ending up with negative yardage. That was the dumbest call of the year for Martz. Without a doubt.

The people who though the Bears would go 5-11 this year are already coming out of the woodwork, as though the Bears suddenly morphed into a bad team with a 7 point injury-plagued loss in the NFC Championship game. Oh well. I know this offseason is going to be long and miserable. I'm prepared for it. Hopefully the Bears will make the right moves they need to get an offense that can actually carry the defense some times and to get the depth they need for an aging defense. Hopefully they'll be right back here next year. But damn, September is a long ways away.

As for Green Bay, I naturally hope that Pittsburgh fucking destroys them, but I'm still impressed with what they've done. Congratulations, even if I say it through clenched teeth.

Go Bears, but damn, this hurts.

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