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Bears vs. Browns: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

Jay Cutler lead us on an emotional roller coaster, but found a rhythm and lead the Bears to a much needed win against the Browns in the Cleve.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears are in first place in the NFC North, if only for 15 hours more. But still, first place! woohoo! That said, let's get down to some brass tacks.

  • Before we get too far, I'll admit I am a Jay Cutler fan, and I think he's the right guy for the job. I told several people before the game that he clearly has to get this start. You have to see him if you're going to move forward, but furthermore, he's got that extra thing that you might need to win games down the stretch. I try not to be an apologist though. That said, I was good with him starting, and I would've been ok with him on a short leash. If Trestman had decided to make a move at half, I'd have understood it.
  • Starting from the opening kickoff, nerves set in. Hester takes it from 8 yards deep, like he does, and gets a 30+ yard return. This happens, strangely enough, by taking the ball and running forward with it, as opposed to a sideline to sideline run hoping for a hole.
  • Back to back running plays, for positive yardage. Feels like the team is trying to set a bit of a rhythm, ease Cutler back into the swing of things.
  • Cutler's first pass is...a completion to Forte, who is somehow able to get 4 yards out of a play that I wasn't sure would be all that successful. Team is really rolling right now.
  • Oh, no, wait, delay of game on Cutler. My fault. Luckily, the next completion to Martellus Bennett extends the drive, exactly the kind of bounceback you'd like to see...
  • Oh, there's the end zone pick. Somebody get the torches, we're running this guy out of town.
  • Early on defense, they're getting into the backfield a bit, but nobody is sniffing out what the backs are doing. The underneath is going to be open all day long, and the first we see of that is a 50 yard screen pass. This drive ends up as a field goal, which is more than we expected from the defense.
  • Back to the Cutler interception - TV broadcast doesn't really show anyone open. Probably should've pitched it out of the back of the endzone, but a not great decision coupled with a not great throw will do that to you. Exactly not what he needed.
  • Bears 2nd offensive drive, Bears are again able to move the ball through the air. Also, there are some pigeons on the field who absolutely do not care about the football game that is happening.
  • 3rd & 8 late in the first quarter, Cutler makes a nifty scramble and completion to Marshall to convert. It's a play that McCown probably doesn't make, and it's the reason someone will pay Jay Cutler a sizable amount of money for the 2014 season.
  • Questionable calls in the redzone on this drive. Run up the middle to Forte is fine. Run to the left call is poorly executed. On 3rd & 8 again, the WR screen pass is called to Jeffery with virtually no chance of converting. Trestman hedging his bets? Maybe. Too early to tell, Bears get a field goal, 3-3 is a lot better than 0-3.
  • My big complaint on the defense today is how open the underneath was. This is due to several things - an absolute insistence to keep Gordon and Cameron from burning you, the interesting blitz calls from Tucker, and the inexperience of the linebackers. You know Campbell's not particularly interested in challenging you downfield. You could probably cheat up just a little bit more.
  • Bostic gets a big run stop, and then Frey gets called for defensive holding, gives up the first down anyways. Add nickelback to your shopping list?
  • Zack Bowman's first interception of the day looks nice. Weird to see the Bears doing that.
  • Drive after the interception goes largely wasted by the Bears. A badly floated pass is the first true showing of rust for Cutler, and shortly followed by the pick-6 for Cutler.
  • Bears then force a punt by the Browns a little bit later, and follow that with the drive that sees them get a false start on 4th & 1, get a holding call on the field goal (which was made) and then end up punting.
  • Direct quote from my notes: "Why is Cleveland always so open underneath? Where are the typically overpursuing linebackers?"
  • Thank the deity of your choice for the fact that Campbell can't really throw the ball downfield. This game could've been over and ugly early.
  • Oooh, Cutler in a two-minute drill in his first game back. This may go well or extremely poorly. This one went well, several solid passes from Cutler to Marshall bring the Bears down, use some clock, and allow the Bears to tie it up.
  • This is a lot of bullet points. How does Schweickert do this every week? I'm going to condense the second half a bit.
  • Zack Bowman's 2nd interception is a pick-6. Where's this guy been.
  • This is shortly followed by the Browns doing some wildcat shenanigans to catch the Bears with misdirection. Why they stopped doing this is a mystery.
  • Martellus Bennett chokes out a fumble that the Browns can return for a touchdown. The Bears offense directly accounts for nearly 50% of the Browns scoring, and over half of their meaningful scoring. (I'm not counting the late Gordon touchdown, which we will get to)
  • The 4th quarter is basically all Bears, as Jeffery adds another INSANE catch to his highlight reel. Should be a pro bowler this year, and if he isn't, it's rigged.
  • Also notable, on the Earl Bennett touchdown, a really good move by the Bears to send Marshall out and into the end zone to clear out the space for Bennett to be open just on the other side of the end zone. More of those red zone passes for Cutler, McCown, or whoever, please.
  • Michael Bush had a 40 yard rushing touchdown. Because why not.
  • The Bears defense wasn't done, though, as they allowed Josh Gordon a 43-yard touchdown reception with a small amount of time left. This could have allowed a better team a chance to get back in the game, but thankfully, that's not what the Bears were dealing with.
  • Back to Cutler. On third down, a perfect passer rating. Pass protection was all right, for the most part, though they allowed a few more hits than I'd like, including one where Bushrod got punked straight into Cutler. Pocket mobility didn't seem to be an issue for Jay, and he didn't seem to have too many ill effects from the ankle. We'll have to see how it looks tomorrow to know for sure.

Now the Bears wait to see what the Lions do tonight. Then they travel further east to take on the Eagles, as McCoy looks to bounce back from an atrocious performance against the Vikings. A Lions loss tonight, coupled with a Bears win next week and Lions and Packers losses next week allows the Bears to welcome the Packers in week 17 with a playoff slot already owned. Let's hope they get there.