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

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We look at some of our notes and other minutiae from yesterday's 51-20 drubbing of the Titans.

  • At three or four different times, I put into my notes that Charles Tillman was playing "balls-out football" without realizing the pun related to how much arse was being kicked by Tillman. Seriously, at this point, he's a definite Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner. Defensive backs just don't do what he's done over his career and certainly this year. And forcing four in a single game is just mind boggling. Yes, today's Notes edition is going to be chock full of defensive praise; deal with it. If Tennessee isn't going to make ball security a priority heading anywhere near Tillman, he's going to make them pay. And Chris Johnson on two of those, that's not a good look for him.
  • The blocked punt was a thing of beauty on Sherrick McManis' part. Brian Billick made a rare good point on the broadcast when he said that going for a block, blockers should go for the path of the ball instead of going for the ball immediately off the punter's foot; you don't want to cause a roughing the kicker penalty on such a gamechanging play. The punt looked like it was going to be a low line drive, but McManis was right on top of it, and Wootton had shot his gap perfectly to grab the ball nearly untouched. McManis has actually been a pretty nice pickup for the Bears this year - quietly done his job on specials until that one.
  • Speaking of Wootton, pretty nice day turned in by him on what's a make or break year, since he's finally fully healthy. Shea McClellin didn't have too many opportunities and didn't really make the most of them when he was in. On the tackle side, Stephen Paea again looked good, driving Hasselbeck straight to Idonije for Izzy's sack.
  • Brandon Marshall blocked one guy in the run game until Forte was one-on-one with him, then moved on to the next blocker immediately as Forte stiff-armed the first guy; without Marshall's good blocking, that 15-yard gain in the first quarter is probably stopped behind the first down marker. And late in the third quarter, his hurdle and continual fight for yardage was kind of pretty. Sorry, I'm still getting used to seeing an actual good receiver in a Bears uniform.
  • Jay Cutler looked a lot better this week compared to last; I'm willing to write off last week's performance on the remnants of his rib injury. That being said, the offense still has a lot of work to do to straighten out.
  • To be fair, Cutler was actually pretty good today when he could throw. Brandon Marshall was really the only receiver that did much of anything (outside of one Forte screen I'll discuss later) but if all Cutler had to do was hit Marshall, well, that's exactly what he did. ESPN's abomination of a rating hated Cutler, but more traditional metrics had him at a 138.1 QB rating for the game and a perfect 158.3 for the fourth quarter. And if all Cutler has to do is throw for about 230 yards and get two or three touchdowns, I think we'll take that in a win.
  • However, Cutler has had a hand in all twelve of the team's turnovers (8 INTs, 4 fumbles). There's not much he can do outside of throwing the ball quicker, but it really is a credit to the team that largely, they're playing mistake-free ball. Preaching that in addition to taking the ball away.
  • Plenty of that improvement has to come with J'Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi. Webb had a pair of really bad penalties, one that was just inexcusable in his own end zone (causing a safety) and another that buried the Bears deep in their own territory, and Carimi looks like he's wearing cement loafers when he comes up against a speed rush. Also, any time Mike Tice wants to stop putting Kellen Davis on an island against Kamerion Wimbley is fine with me. Carimi in the run game doesn't look too bad, but as far as runs go, the interior looked like it got swallowed up a little too easily (even though I thought Louis had a great game). But for the most part, I could swear the Bears had a blocking allergy.
  • As far as Tice himself goes, he wasn't particularly unbalanced, though I do question why he unleashes long drops on spread out, empty backfield, five-man protections.
  • So, on three consecutive plays in the first quarter, I think I had three directly contradicting thoughts on each play regarding Jay Cutler's ability to hold onto the ball. It went something like this: THROW IT AWAY JAY. DON'T THROW IT NEAR A DEFENSIVE BACK JAY. WHY'D YOU THROW IT AWAY JAY.
  • I do wonder why Michael Bush decided to go for the "Dive over the Pile" on second down at the Tennessee 9 with goal to go, but that's neither here nor there.
  • Lance Louis, the former tight end from San Diego State, caught a tipped pass. The only thing that would have been better would have been finishing the catch with a touchdown.
  • Who says Matt Forte doesn't have the power to score rushing touchdowns? Sure he needed some help from Louis and the rest of the offensive line, but that pile pushed into the end zone just fine.
  • Statistical anomalies: Earl Bennett caught four passes. For 22 yards.
  • Matt Forte's screen was really well executed - Lance Louis had sprung out immediately to take out the guy that would have hit Forte immediately, and the rest of it was Forte running laterally to set up blockers to carve out greater chunks of yardage. The Bears may not know how to block them naturally, but Forte's running with the ball really sets up his blocks well.
  • Statistical anomalies: No tight ends listed as tight ends (which means excluding Evan Rodriguez) were targeted. At all. Zero targets. Rodriguez had one, but again, excluding him. What's this "big role" they play in the passing game, as a blocker?
  • Chris Johnson may not be done, but his best work was clearly in large part due to the quality of run defenses he faced. He finally broke an 80-yarder, but it was already in garbage time and with the Bears' backups in the game.
  • Speaking of rushing attempts, okay, Hasselbeck, I'm sorry for insulting you and your old man quarterback legs, thinking that you couldn't run for anything.
  • Now, for how long Hasselbeck has been in the league, he should know what Brian Urlacher does in this defense. So why did he throw to where Urlacher was covering on the touchdown interception? Either he never saw him or he wasn't aware that Urlacher's knee is as good as it's been all hear - yes, he's that slow on the runback anyway.
  • Kelvin Hayden took more of DJ Moore's nickel back reps, and I must say, it actually agrees with him. He looked pretty good in his time on the field, and almost took one of those fumbles back for a touchdown. Seriously, the Bears' ability to stay around the ball and make plays is astounding.
  • As soon as I typed that the Titans were getting through too easily on run plays, the Bears ran a well-executed draw into a four-man (3-down plus rover/LB) rush for 13 yards and a first down.
  • The Titans tried to score on the Cutler fumble. It was cute. The sack happened due to Rachal vacating his hole to block for Forte's screen route when Cutler wanted to take advantage of single coverage on Marshall. It didn't happen. Side note: If you're going to run with the ball, pick it up and run with it instead of kicking it along for twenty yards.
  • On Kamerion Wimbley's sack in the third quarter, Wimbley and Davis were all alone on the left side as the Bears ran a play-action to the right side (with extra pressure coming down the right side too). The Bears were in max-protect too, but that really doesn't matter when a one-on-one gets blown up as badly as Davis was.
  • Into the second half, the Titans starting running more to the weak-side for greater effectiveness, something the Bears might want to work on before facing Arian Foster.
  • On Nate Washington's touchdown, Jennings' only crime was his lack of height, and the ball was right on the sideline, so there was very little Conte could do in the way of getting over to help. Just a well-delivered ball.
  • I think the Titans might have gotten screwed on a bogus horse-collar call; the defender's hand never went into the pads.
  • Special teams really helped the Bears with good field position; the Bears scored on drives of 8 yards, 16 yards, 27 yards, and two yards. Of course, that's leaving out their drives of 73 yards, 76 yards, and 65 yards, two of which ended in field goals instead of touchdowns. Speaking of, only the Bears can get a fumble recovery on the first play of the game, then promptly give up a three and out.
  • Here's an eye opener. The Bears had two less drives thanks to defense and special teams touchdowns, and crushed the time of possession battle. CHI 37:01 / TEN 22:59
  • Al Afalava is a safety on an NFL team. Remember him, Bears fans?
  • Three announcing complaints. First, get Rob Riggleman off my TV. Second, yes, the Bears' opponents were 14-28 entering the game. The Lions are a game away from going over .500 and the Colts could be a playoff team, so it's not like they haven't NOT played anybody. Oh, right, they lost to the Packers. Cool story, doesn't mean that they haven't taken care of business, however sloppy it may have been, since then. All teams can do is beat who's on their schedule.
  • Tim Jennings was really good on the other side of Tillman, too. His pass breakup in the fourth quarter is the perfect "hit at the perfect time" hit to force an incompletion.

That's what I've got for you this morning. What'd you like, dislike, or find interesting about the game?