For three games the Bears have largely thrived off turnovers generated by the defense and have played largely smart, low-risk and effective offense to win games. Today they got hit hard by the reversal, and the result was ugly. The defense failed to get turnovers early, and Jay Cutler suffered an ugly case of regression to put the team in a hole. The result was an eventual 30-10 first half lead for the Lions, and the end of the Bears perfect record.
Where does this put the team? Plenty of members of the fanbase have immediately forgotten the 3-0 start or undoubtedly thrown it away as a mirage in order to jump on the team and it's quarterback as shitty. That's to be expected. I won't defend the way Cutler played today. I, like everyone, was hoping these kinds of days were behind him. A few stupid turnovers, however, does not entirely undo the progress this offense has made. As of right now they're averaging 32 PPG (or 26.5 if you take out defensive scores), up from 23.4 PPG last year (or 19.5 PPG without defensive scores), and their 360 YPG average is well above their 310 YPG average from last year. This offense is undoubtedly improved. Bad Jay, as he always does, will disappear once again for a few weeks before rearing his ugly head again and making us all want to choke ourselves in another game down the road. That's fine. They'll survive as they always have. There's no reason to ignore progress on so many fronts because of that.
The defense remains my going concern. It seemed to me like Julius Peppers played pretty well even outside of his strip sack, but the first start for Nate Collins was underwhelming, and Stephen Paea had his worst game yet. The Wootton/McClellin combo was once again a no-show. The secondary actually managed to hold the Lions passing game in check as much as could possibly be expected given the lack of a rush, but all three units failed miserably when it came to slowing down the run game or mastering the manly art of tackling. I'm slowly losing my confidence that they're going to all round into form at some point, and that's going to be an issue next week with Breesus coming to town.
In the end, the Bears are 3-1, tied for first place (yes, Detroit fans, use the tiebreaker excuse if you want because that's totally relevant before the second game has even been played), and get back to back games at home in the next two weeks. This offense was always going to have it's growing pains, but it's still given us plenty of reasons for hope going forward.
Alshon Jeffery: Alshon caught five balls for 107 yards (with his sideline grab at the end of the first half being maybe the best yet of his young career) and a TD, and also had a 27 yard run. His development is going to pay big dividends down the line.
Charles Tillman: He had to leave the game several times, and is clearly hurting, but he managed once again to largely make Megatron a non factor. Get well, P'nut.
Matt Forte: He had 14 rushes for 95 yards and a TD before the scoreboard forced the team to abandon the run. Hopefully the next time these teams meet the game won't get out of hand so fast and he can continue to gash them as he has done most of his career.
Jay Cutler: That sucked. To his credit, Jay admitted the loss was on him. It certainly was. While the defense was less than spectular in the first half, Jay put them in bad spots with every turnover, and is actually lucky they didn't come away with as many points as they could have. I'm not going to sweat this, however, because every Bad Jay game feels like the end of the fucking world and he has never failed to rebound yet. It was also good to see that Marc Trestman called Jay out for it very calmly, and Jay responded without anger or any of the usual chirpiness. It was a pipe dream to think that his penchant for these kinds of games would completely disappear, but he has a chance to show actual growth in his response to this going forward. Let's hope he does. A win over New Orleans next week would make all of the negativity disappear quickly.
Run Defense: Jesus Christ. Pick a man. They all had a hand on a Lions runningback at some point and failed to make the play. The sad thing is that the run game was the only department where they Hadn't been shitty this season.
Thom Fucking Brennaman. Again. God I hate this man. Apparently in Thom Brennaman's world, any sort of pass on a play where you have only a yard to go to pick up the first down is worse than child abuse. YOU MEAN TO TELL ME, THAT A TEAM IN THE NFL WOULD PASS IN A SITUATION WHERE DEFENSES WOULD ACTUALLY BE GEARED TO STOP THE RUN? UNBELIEVEABLE.
That's all for now. Losing sucks. Let's just not do that again.