There are several things that just shouldn't happen during a football game if you're a good team, and especially a good offensive team, if that's your coaching and personnel focus. Let's go over them one by one, because the only way to really look at this game is the giant clusterbleep that it turned out as.
Let's start with first downs. Getting thirteen first downs by virtue of offensive performance does not get the job done (and picking up a first down on a penalty doesn't help anything when you get nothing out of it late in the game).
Losing the total yardage battle 393 to 224 doesn't help anything, when you're getting 4.4 yards per play and 3.7 on the ground per play.
Losing the turnover battle three to nothing also doesn't help anything; the Jay Cutler interception went straight to an open area of the field (possibly a miscommunication on either himself or Santonio Holmes, or simply a bad throw as Holmes was open on the left side) and two fumbles on a sack and a reception by Dante Rosario.
All this ties into losing the time of possession battle by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, which is one thing if you're putting together quick scores. It's another thing when drives are ending due to turnovers, bad incompletions, drops, an inability to run the ball, and checkdowns on third down before the first down marker.
Every time we look at the scoreboard at the end of the game, the Bears have at least 20 points scored, and four times between 24 and 28, but a team shouldn't be able to hold the Bears to 14 like that, nearly effortlessly.
Outside of one or two flares, this is not a strong offensive team like we thought it was. And really, it's inexcusable that a team with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, and Jay Cutler sits here at week 7 with what amounts overall to a league average offense, coupled with a nearly league-average defense.
I don't know how much of that is Cutler's execution, or lack thereof, or how much is on Marc Trestman himself and his sometimes-interesting playcalls (though I'm not as down as others on the deep play call to Jeffery in the first quarter - early in the game is not a bad time to take that kind of risk, but a Dolphins' defensive back was in Jeffery's pocket pretty much all game). That being said, there's enough blame to go around, especially for this one.
Not every game in which the offense fails to live up to expectations should result in a "Jay Cutler Sucks! Jay Cutler Rules!" debacle. Not every time Cutler throws a pick does it mean the offense's failures are on him.
But right now, this is a team that, with an improved defense, still needs the offense to execute, play mistake-free or reduced-mistake football, and put up points. When the defense allows 20 points or less, the Bears are 3-0. More than that, and the Bears are 0-4. In three of the last four games, the Bears have now allowed 38, 31, and 27 points to the Packers, Panthers and Dolphins, scoring a combined 55 points in those three games. And in those three games, the Bears' offense has looked extremely out of sorts, exactly as they did on Sunday. No execution. No willingness to find or stick with something that works. Protection continuing to slip.
The question is, what do the Bears do about it? Marc Trestman has to improve his playcalling and gameplanning, because there's no reason to come into a game like this completely not ready to go. Jay Cutler needs to not make the throw that got picked off; certainly not as he threw it. Alshon Jeffery needs to come up with more than two catches when thrown to seven times. Pass protection needs to improve. There's a long list of things that need to improve before Sunday against the Patriots.
With that being said, let's head into some bullets.
- I think I noticed some of the same reaction about Shea McClellin in his return to action this week. His hitting the ground on Charles Clay's touchdown got the ball rolling, and on Tannehill's 4th and 1 scramble for 30 yards when he slightly overpursues and is blocked out to create a gap for Tannehill, the Twitter reaction was a little overly strong. Houston got blocked out of the play. Nobody else was able to clean up the gap. Nobody got a hand on Tannehill for another 29 yards. The defense's failures are not all on McClellin, and while he had a fairly rough return, nobody's kicking him off the team just yet.
- A linebacker who didn't help himself, DJ Williams. In his return to action, he looked slow, picked up two tackles and what should have been an interception on a tipped pass... had he been aware of said tip. Instead, the interception clanked against Williams' helmet, and the Dolphins went to tack on more points.
- Jeremiah Ratliff was a destructive force, snagging three and a half sacks and leading the team in tackles. It was a move I was really unsure on when it was first made, but he really came to play.
- Alshon Jeffery had 7 targets in the game, but only hauled in two of them for nine yards. The Dolphins did a good job of putting a defensive back in his pocket the entire game, but Brandon Marshall didn't do the greatest job of taking advantage either, picking up six receptions on his ten targets. Here's the thing - Matt Forte is a great weapon to have, especially with his ability to catch out of the backfield. But putting the ball in his hands constantly is ideally supposed to open up the intermediate and deep game, which is not something we've seen with much regularity, if at all. The two longest receptions in the game were a Forte 24-yard pass and a Martellus Bennett 21-yard reception on third down to secure a first. If your running back and your tight end have your two longest catches on the day, you have to wonder where your deep passing game or ability to get the ball into your wide receivers' hands with space has gone. Put this in the above "Things A Good Offense Does" category.
- Ka'Deem Carey's one snap on offense is a backwards pass that he has to scramble on top of for a loss of ten, only to further disappear into the aether. I'm going to start calling him Wisp, because I'm never sure if he's actually a thing that exists until he's seen once, then, poof. Also, I hear the Bears need a second running back to further their run game. I just have no idea where they can find one. Hmm.
- Ryan Tannehill's a quarterback that needs to be on the move to make a play, or needs the threat of being able to move. There were very few snaps where the Dolphins didn't run some kind of read-option look, even in decoy, and the Bears just didn't know what the hell to do with it the whole day.
- I wouldn't be surprised to see if Les gives Cutler marks for two of the three sacks; he was holding the ball for far too long on a couple of plays. You can wait all day for a route to come open, but if a guy's going to get there before the route develops, get the ball to the sideline as fast as possible.
- I thought Brock Vereen played okay, though he wasn't really tested a whole lot.
- Chris Williams returned a kick to the 25 yard line! And another to the 50! What is this nonsense?
- Hey, for once, a game that the Bears were the lesser-penalized team. At least they cleaned up that part a bit.
- Caleb Sturgis had one field goal fly wide right, and a second field goal blocked; Bears special teams were doing just fine on the day. Now, offensive players tackling after an interception, that's another thing.
- Jared Allen got his first half-sack on Soldier Field grass this year; maybe he's coming alive a bit more.
There's not really a whole lot more to add. That was a miserable game by an offense that couldn't do much of anything for the majority and a defense that still got manhandled by the same read option they were up against much of the early going of the year. Let's just hope they clean stuff up in time for New England.