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NightLink: Bears Looking For Closers

Brad Biggs of the Sun Times has a nice piece about the Bears looking to improve at closing out games.  With this being Atlanta week (who will ever forget the final 11 seconds last year?) it seems like a perfect time to discuss the Bears second half game-planning, and their ability to close out on their opponents.

Here's the link to the Biggs article, right here.  Last year many fans called into question the inability of Lovie Smith and his staff to close out games from an X's and O's standpoint.  Were they failing at the halftime adjustments?

They squandered double-digit second-half leads in two of the first three weeks in losses to Carolina and Tampa Bay, and they went to Houston in the season finale knowing a victory would put them in the postseason. The Bears led the Texans 10-0 before crumbling.

The most stunning of all was the Week 6 meltdown with 11 seconds to play at Atlanta. The Bears had rallied for a one-point lead on a 17-yard pass from Kyle Orton to Rashied Davis in the Georgia Dome against the upstart Falcons. A bad Robbie Gould squib kick, a bad defensive call combined with poor execution and a 48-yard Jason Elam field goal later, they left stunned losers 22-20.

On thing that surprised me was Smith's overall record when leading after 3 quarters, the last couple years not so good, but before that, stellar.

The Bears were 26-1 under Smith in his first three seasons when they led after the third quarter. Since 2007, they are 12-6, including the lead they squandered at Green Bay to open the season.

When protecting a lead late, much of the onus falls on a good pass rush, something the Bears lacked the last two years, but this season...

With 14 sacks through the first four games, they're at half their total from 2008 and on pace for 56, the most since the Bears had 70 in the 15-game season of 1987. It's far easier to rush the passer with a lead late in the game, and the improved play by ends Alex Brownand Adewale Ogunleye has been encouraging.


In case you missed it, last week on, Larry Mayer wrote about the Bears offense doing some self evaluation, and this interesting stat caught my eye.

Although the Bears have been outscored 31-7 in the first quarter, they've outscored their opponents 68-27 in the second half.

I know the Packer game slipped through the cracks, but so far I've been impressed with some of the 2nd half adjustments by the coaching staff. 

I think it's just a matter of time before the Bears start to find some early momentum.  Last year they seemed to get points on so many opening drives, but this year the offense has so many new parts so I'm not surprised by the slow starts.  They'll get it rolling soon enough.