I thought the Chicago Bears' defense played a good enough game to win yesterday. They only allowed 21 points, but they did allow Reggie Bush to go off for 89 yards on nine rushes in the 2nd half after only having five attempts for 16 yards in the 1st half. There was some gap discipline problems, and some tackling issues, but I also thought the defense wore out a little.
The D had four players play all 62 snaps, Chris Conte, James Anderson, Jon Bostic, and Tim Jennings. Defensive backs Major Wright and Charles Tillman had the next most with 59 and 57 respectively.
Also with 57 snaps was defensive end Julius Peppers, and in my opinion playing 92% of the snaps is just far too high for anyone on their defensive line, especially a player that is 33 years old and struggling through his worst season as a pro. Corey Wootton had nearly as many plays as Peppers, with 56/62 (90%), and defensive tackle Stephen Paea was right behind with 54 plays.
Adding to the snap counts for those three, was their special teams play. Both Paea and Peppers had five snaps, while Wootton had nine.
For all of Pep's and Wootton's playing time, they had 1 tackle and 1 pass defended between them. This is probably a good time to mention that not only were the Bears held without a sack, they also didn't register a single QB hit on Matt Stafford according to the NFL. Pro Football Focus had the Bears with a couple QB hits, and five QB hurries, but the Lions had a mostly clean pocket to throw from all afternoon.
With Shea McClellin a late scratch due to his hamstring injury, it forced the Bears into shortening their d-line rotation, and it gave David Bass his first career start. Bass had a career high 40 snaps, and DT Landon Cohen chipped in with 31. The only other defensive linemen to log any playing time was rookie DT Christian Tupou with four, and rookie DE Cornelius Washington with six.
The Bears hope to have McClellin back this week, but DT Jeremiah "Don't call me Jay" Ratliff is still at least a couple weeks away from making his Chicago debut. With the return of Lance Briggs also looming, is it conceivable that the overall play of the defense will improve when all these players lace 'em up? I sure hope so.
To counteract Detroit's personnel, the Bears were in nickle quite a bit on Sunday. Nickleback Isaiah Frey played 76% of the defensive snaps in place of rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene who only played 15/62.
On offense, the quarterback breakdown was 63 snaps for Jay Cutler and 12 for Josh McCown. I feel McCown should have had more second half playing time. I was OK with Jay receiving the start, and apparently so was Jay as he went 12-18 (67%) in the first half. But in the 2nd half he was clearly laboring, and he only completed 8 of 22 passes (36%). Whether it was the ankle injury as was reported, or his non throwing hand which was swollen, or even some groin fatigue, he simply wasn't the same player in the second half.
Only the five offensive linemen played all 75 snaps, but Matt Forte was in for 74.
Would it be possible to get Forte's snaps down to about a 75/25 split with either Michael Bush or Michael Ford? I'm not sure if Forte is wearing down, but he sure is playing a lot of snaps. Speaking of Bush, he only had that lone 4th down snap, and Ford only saw 12 on special teams.
Back to Forte, he had 17 carries for just 33 yards, and 21 touches for just 49 yards. He sure seemed to be going down after first contact a lot yesterday. Is that a sign of fatigue?
Of the receivers, Alshon Jeffery had the most PT with 72 snaps, followed with Brandon Marshall with 68 (91%). Earl Bennett had 43 and Marquess Wilson had eight. It's interesting to note that Jeffery led the Bears with 18 targets, and Marshall was next with 12. Both starting Chicago wide outs went over a hundred yards receiving, and both are still on pace to eclipse a thousand yards on the season.
Tight end Martellus Bennett had 65 snaps, pseudo-TE Eben Britton had 22, and Dante Rosario had ten. Fullback Tony Fiammetta chipped in with 12 offensive snaps.
Rosario also added 19 special teams snaps, which was second to the 22 from Blake Costanzo.
What are your thoughts on the playing time distribution?
Do you think the d-line is wearing down?
What about Forte?