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Bears Vs. Jaguars: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

We discuss the events of Sunday's win against the Jaguars, including the offense's late starts and Brandon Marshall's 17 targets.

Mike Ehrmann - Getty Images
  • One of the first things to note about Sunday's game is the amount of targets for Brandon Marshall - 17 of Jay Cutler's 39 pass attempts were headed in his direction. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of targets - some might say too many targets. And typically, it might be - after all, the more a quarterback fixates on a target, the easier it is to predict where he's going to go with the ball. The problem with that argument is that if a player is being targeted "too much," there's probably a good reason for it - in this case, Marshall was the only receiver getting open consistently. And that's not taking anything away from Derek Cox, who had himself a pretty good game, all things considered - especially in the first half, where on one play he broke up a pass that was already in Marshall's hands. The Jaguars' defensive backs were playing really tight coverage in the first half, continued it into the second, and the Bears' passing offense had to rely on the big Marshall to beat that coverage.
  • The Bears' pass rush may have seemed to have taken forever to get to the field, but like the Cowboys, the Jaguars relied on a few things to keep the rush off Blaine Gabbert - namely, lots of runs, lots of quick passes, tighter formations, and extra men back in protection. And of course when the ball's coming out so quick, there's no time to work on the lineman and bust the play up unless you shoot the gap perfectly. Corey Wootton picked up two sacks, but was the lone defensive lineman to get one. Lance Briggs picked up a sack when he matched up on Marcedes Lewis and Lewis just couldn't stop Briggs.
  • The Bears looked excellent in the second half when they started with the ball, and looked positively miserable in the first half. As much as we all would like to believe the Bears can be the consistent team of the second half that we've seen, and the team that added another couple fourth quarter passing touchdowns to a season full of them, they can't rely on a second half spurt to shut down the good teams of the league. A massive second half helped them against the Rams, Cowboys, and Jaguars, none of which are expected to be among the league's elite. They can't count on two defensive touchdowns and a close first half against teams like Houston later on, the second matchup against Green Bay, or the 49ers. Sooner or later, they'll have to figure out how to score points in the first half. The Bears still have only one first-half passing touchdown all season. It's nice to be able to pass at will in the fourth quarter when you already have the lead, but ideally, the Bears need to be able to pass for those scores in the first to establish the lead in the first place.
  • Charles Tillman was struggling a little bit early against Justin Blackmon, but Blackmon caught a few big first down catches and didn't do much else. Tillman eventually got an interception for a touchdown when he was looking back for Gabbert to throw the ball, and Gabbert obliged and underthrew it badly. At least the Bears sure know how to block for interception returns. Like the rest of the team, Tillman had a great second half. Apparently, it's easier to play defense against the pass when it's the only avenue of moving the ball.
  • Speaking of moving the ball, was it frustrating to anyone else when the Jaguars started getting the ball to Blackmon actually going down the field?
  • Kellen Davis was making some nice plays in the first - then was never heard from again. What gives?
  • Devin Hester is looking more like an NFL receiver (#3 or #4) that returns kicks. He seems like he's back to trying too hard to break that big one - far too much movement laterally and backwards. On one sequence, he caught the ball at the 18, stepped up to the 20, turned and started running backwards and was eventually tackled at the 16. Also, only Devin Hester can poke himself in the eye on a 39-yard diving catch.
  • Gabe Carimi had a horrible day. He allowed the only sack the Bears allowed all day, singlehandedly reduced the Bears' second half opening drive to a field goal with two false start penalties, and also got hit with a holding penalty. By contrast, J'Marcus Webb actually looked pretty good against Jeremy Mincey.
  • The rest of the offensive line did about what you'd expect with a defensive unit that only had two sacks coming in and was largely rushing only four - looked occasionally shaky and let the pocket collapse, but they weren't the offensive hurdle they've been in past years.
  • Shame that Alshon Jeffery hurt his hand on the touchdown reception, because he looked like he's taken over the #2 receiver role pretty solidly, particularly while Earl Bennett's been away. Maybe the bye week will do him some good in that regard.
  • In the second half, the Bears had a field goal and three touchdowns on their four drives. The Jaguars had two drives in the entire half that ran longer than three plays (5 plays). The total TOP for the Jaguars in the second half (7:35) was less than the TOP for the Bears' second-half opening drive (9:18).
  • Maurice Jones-Drew was bottled up really well - he only really had one play the entire game, the 27-yard carry he took to the left side. Everything else, you could tell that the team had reactivated Matt Toeaina.
  • Brian Urlacher was described as "The High Five Guy." That just shows how dominant the rest of the guys on the defense have been.
  • I loved the call to go for it on fourth and one at the 45-yard line. The only problem I have is with the call - even though it worked, I'm not sure why you have to call a pass that requires more development than Brandon Marshall in the slot, dart quickly to the middle, turn and catch. Excellent awareness by Cutler to slide right out of the pocket and let the throwing lane and route develop.
  • Speaking of going to Marshall, Cutler escaped from the pocket on a play and scrambled for the first down. On that play, Marshall was coming out of the slot, and we know how Cutler and the offense have been when it comes to Marshall playing in the slot. It was impressive watching Cutler pass up the throw to a covered Marshall and take the ball himself.
  • Kahlil Bell was inactive for the game. Armando Allen got some garbage time carries and took one for a long, game-sealing touchdown. I'd say the Bears can live without Bell.
  • Cutler had an excellent second half. Now he needs to figure out how to do that earlier in games instead of being outdueled by Gabbert at the end of the first half.
  • Getting into the first-half playcalling... The Bears did have to get the passing game involved, or at least try, but the running game was just tearing things up - if you're going to pass on 3rd and 1 after a 5 and 4 yard carries, why not a play-action curl route or post route? I'll give Cutler about 10% of a pass on the interception, yeah he has to pick up a rolling snap, but he can't just pick it up and fire it in Brandon Marshall's direction.
  • Speaking of Blaine Gabbert, entering the game he only had one interception. I'm almost surprised it wasn't more - he doesn't have much of an arm on some of the out routes. He can get the thing to Blackmon though, he's a big enough target to catch against man coverage.
  • The Bears were flagged twelve times for eighty yards. Easily the most they've been flagged on the year (and probably for the last few years).
  • The Bears' first drive of the second half lasted 9:18 and ended with a field goal. In the final 9:18 of the game, the Bears added a passing touchdown, Briggs' interception, and Allen's run. In the first 9:18 of the fourth quarter, the Bears added both passing touchdowns and Briggs' interception. The point being, 9:18 is a lot of time to deprive the other offense of the ball. It kinda helped the Bears converted the fourth and one and also picked up a horrible roughing-the-passer penalty committed by Jacksonville. Inexcusable on their part, really. Although we can thank Carimi for adding an extra 20 yards for the Bears to traverse in that 17-play drive.
  • The Jaguars had 47 yards total in the second half. The Bears had 310.
  • In the first half, the Jaguars had 129 total yards. The Bears had 166.
  • It should be noted the Bears' two interceptions came with the addition of a little extra pressure, even though they stuck with rushing four for the majority of the game.
  • I'll wrap this up with one final note - the Bears have five defensive touchdowns over the last three weeks. Over that span, prior to the fourth quarter outburst, the Bears had only three offensive touchdowns. The play of the defense has been unbelievable, though let's keep in mind two of their last three opponents were the Rams and the Jaguars. So the Bears head to the bye week, and after that, a Monday nighter with Detroit.