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.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Code Red: 32-16
Mrs. Code Red: 29-19
San Francisco 49ers (1-2?!) @ St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Iggins!: Last week, hopefully, was a massive haymaker to the face for the Niners. The Rams gave them trouble last year, but that was because the Rams literally knew every play San Fran was running. Niners get back on track.
Erik: As much as the Niners have looked like garbage the last two games, there’s just too much talent on that roster to believe this is who they are now. A week ago I might have taken the Rams, but their defense is clearly not as consistently great as I believed. Niners grind this one out.
Code Red: The Rams defense looked really solid in all phases last year, but this year the D-Line has remained stout while the secondary has really struggled. Which is good, because f*&k Cortland Finnegan. 49ers haven't sunk that far.
Elyse: God, it feels weird that I'm even debating it. Goodness gracious, Colin Kaepernick. Still, they aren't that bad. 49ers win.
Chicago Bears (3-0 :-D) @ Detroit Lions (2-1)
Erik: Looking back on the game last night, I feel pretty confident that a lot of those “errors” were actually just super-conservative playcalling allowing the Steelers to stay in the game. Hopefully Trestman learns from that and takes a bolder stand against a team that can score as quickly as the Lions. Pass rush still concerns me, as does Tillman’s availability against Megatron, but for the first time since the Lions were “good,” I feel confident saying we can keep up even without a Pro Bowl performance there. Bears win, 28-21.
Code Red: Yeah, we'll never know what game Trestman would have called if they hadn't been up 24-3 before you could blink. I understand not wanting to chance that on the road, and when he called deep drops to try and get 'em moving again in the 3rd quarter the OL suddenly couldn't block. Bears can score on the Lions. Really looking forward to Suh vs. Kyle Long. Bears 30-24.
Elyse: Kind of did not expect this to be a battle for first place, but I'm not impressed with Detroit. Bears win 30-21.
Iggins!: I’ll take the Bears to win because it’s bad luck not to, but I’m pretty sure we lose here, randomly, and for no reason. Just a hunch!
New York Giants (0-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Iggins!: So apparently the Giants are terrible? The signs were all there, I guess. Terrible linebackers, mediocre secondary… if the d-line fell apart that defense would be crap, and it did. More concerning has to be Eli failing while having Nicks and Cruz to throw to. Also, that Chief defense is a nightmare. Chiefs win.
Erik: I really wasn’t that surprised. Even the years they won the Super Bowl, I have a hard time describing those teams as “good.” Certainly they had good players who put on good performances, but they’ve always (and by always I mean in the last five or six years) been flying by the seat of their pants and just scraping by. Eli’s protection has been shit, which has prevented him from putting on those Incredible Hulk performances that hide all the flaws under a barrage of TDs. It doesn’t get any easier against the Chiefs.
Code Red: that defense was shit last year, too. Then they made no additions on D and lost players on offense. Why does this shock people? I mean, the turnover hilarity is surprising even with Eli being Eli, but otherwise not surprised. Chiefs win, Eli gets caught in a Groundhog's Day like infinite loop of INTs.
Elyse: Woof. Chiefs are going to decimate them. Chiefs win.