The bad news is the Chicago Bears played as bad as could be in all three phases. The offense just couldn't get into a groove, the special teams was sputtering all night, and the defense was it's usual awful self. Even Lance Briggs' return couldn't spark the struggling unit.
The good news is that the Bears still control their playoff fate. Win in week 17 and the Bears are in the playoffs.
You may say, 'Who cares, the Bears will never go far in the playoffs!" But I counter with, there are no guarantees in the National Football League. Especially in this topsy-turvey 2013 season.
The Bears obviously have some business to take care of this Sunday, but in the post season everybody starts fresh, and anything can happen. We only need to look at recent NFL history for an example of anything, and I did tweet these nuggets out this morning so follow me @wiltfongjr for some daily Bears hits.
In 2009 the Arizona Cardinals were defeated 47-7 in week 16. They won the following week to finish at 9-7, they won the NFC West, and they went on to play in the Super Bowl.
In 2010 the Green Bay Packers had to win in week 17 to snag the final wild card spot, they did much to Bears fans dismay, then they went on and won the Super Bowl.
In the 2011 season, the New York Giants lost 5 of their final 8 games, and had to win in week 17 to clinch the NFC East at 9-7. They did, and they also went on to win the Super Bowl.
The Bears laid an egg on the road, it happens. Just one week prior it happened to the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost to the four win Minnesota Vikings by a score of 48-30.
But as to this Sunday Nighter, the numbers were pretty bad.
It's never good when a safety leads the team in tackles, and Chicago's Chris Conte tallied 10 tackles in 52 of 64 plays. Conte also forced a fumble so he had that going for him. Fellow safety Major Wright was 3rd in tackles with seven. He played all 64 snaps. Craig Steltz came in for those 12 snaps while Conte was being checked for a concussion and he picked up 1 tackle.
The actual tackles were few and far between though, as the Eagles had two backs top the hundred yard mark. The Chicago run defense gave up a season worst 289 yards.
In all Philly racked up 514 total yards and 28 first downs, while converting 5 of 9 3rd downs and their lone 4th down try.
The returning Lance Briggs looked a step slow on some plays, but he did play 57 snaps (89%). His conditioning will improve, as will his tackle numbers. He only had 1 assisted tackle.
I was surprised that rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic stayed on the field for every defensive snap. His 8 tackles, including 1 for a loss, and a fumble recovery looked nice on the stat sheet, but he still had some youthful mistakes defending the Eagle rushing attack.
James Anderson was the linebacker that came off in nickle, and he had 3 tackles in 41 snaps. Nickleback Isaiah Frey played 27 snaps and tallied 5 tackles.
Corner Tim Jennings played the next most snaps, 62, and he picked up 4 tackles. The other corner, Zack Bowman, played 60 snaps and had 3 tackles.
There were two other defensive backs to appear on defense, Sherrick McManis saw 2 snaps and Derrick Martin had 4.
With the fast break Chip Kelly offense clicking, it's hard to get a good defensive line rotation going. Once someone subs in, he's probably staying until the Eagles score or punt. With that being said, Julius Peppers led the Bears d-linemen with only 70% of the defensive snaps (45/64). He had a couple tackles.
Jeremiah Ratliff (42 snaps) and Corey Wootton (38 snaps) again were the starting defensive tackles. Wootton had a sack and Ratliff shared a sack with the starting DE Shea McClellin, who saw action on 39 snaps (61%).
Rounding out the d-line rotation, DE David Bass had 2 tackles on 32 snaps, NT Stephen Paea and DT Landon Cohen had 24 snaps each, and DE Cheta Ozougwu had 19.
The only other defender to see action was Khaseem Greene who filled in on 3 snaps.
Over on offense the only players to play all 65 snaps were the five offensive linemen. They didn't have their best day, but the five sacks allowed weren't all on the o-line. I'll break down the sacks later this week in Sackwatch.
Tight end Martellus Bennett logged 58 snaps, and had 5 catches for a game leading 85 yards. The wide out duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery played 53 and 52 snaps respectively. Each were targeted 9 times on the evening, with Jeffery catching 6 and Marshall catching 4 including a TD grab.
Third wide out Earl Bennett had a couple catches including a two point conversion in his 41 offensive plays. Matt Forte found little room to run on his 9 attempts. He ended up with 29 yards on the ground, but added 4 receptions and 25 yards in his 53 plays. He was also tackled in the end zone for a safety, and while I'd like to see him power through an arm tackle, the Eagle defender that tripped him up blew by Bears rookie right tackle Jordan Mills.
It was empty the bench time as receiver Eric Weems played 12 snaps on offense. Also chiming in with 12 snaps was running back Michael Bush and back up quarterback Josh McCown.
Jay Cutler started at QB, played 53 snaps, and somehow was the national whipping boy for the 54-11 loss. Some people must have glossed over the Bears defense allowing 47 points, or the fact that the Eagles scored 21 points before Cutler even threw his 2nd pass on the night, but somehow the Cutler/McCown debate was rekindled.
Cutler did throw a late pick-6, but the score was 40-11 at the time. He ended up 20 of 35 for 222 yards and a TD to go along with that pick. He was also sacked a season high 5 times, and hit and pressured on numerous other occasions. Jay didn't have a very good game, but he wasn't alone this night.
The Bears only went with fullback Tony Fiammetta for 3 plays. They went to back up tight end Dante Rosario for 20 snaps and Eben Britton checked in as an eligible receiver for 21 plays.
In searching for something nice to say about the Bears performance, I discovered that they tied a season low with just 2 penalties against them.
What were your thoughts on the numbers, the Bears' playoff chances, and on the mainstream media making this game about a QB debate?
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