That title image just about sums everything up about this season, doesn't it. So let's lay it out.
This team is not a good football team.
- The Chicago Bears have, returning from last season's #2-ranked-by-points offense, one top tier receiver; another rapidly rising receiver; a top tier running back; a good tight end; and a quarterback that was just handed a seven-year, triple-figure contract. What they got yesterday, and for most of this season, was more of the usual - screens, screens, more screens, an occasional deep/intermediate incompletion/batted ball, another screen... You get the point. The Bears just don't seem to have a handle on what an offense actually can do, especially in terms of progression down the field.
- Don't get me wrong, I love seeing Alshon Jeffery take a bullet screen and run tough through a couple tackles straight to the end zone. And I get what a screen is designed to do, plus with how good the Bears are at running them, and how vulnerable the Lions were to them against the Patriots. But if I ever see another screen on 3rd and long again, it'll be too soon. If I see another pass to Matt Forte that only goes to the line of scrimmage with a linebacker bearing down on him, it'll be too soon.
- Speaking of odd Matt Forte plays, I'm sure I saw the most convoluted run for loss I've seen in a long time. Also, the run game was so shut down by the Lions' front four and lead, as well as the Bears' own odd playcalling tendencies, likely coupled with an extremely effective (read: league-best 3.1 YPC allowed) rushing defense heading into the game, that Ka'Deem Carey was the team's leading rusher, with eight yards on two carries. Please try to restrain your mirth at that statement.
- The Bears got a couple deep attempts in, but nothing came home at all. Which makes it really easy for teams to just load up and count on stopping the ball carrier out of the backfield or short by a couple yards. But there's just not even any intermediate concepts. Unless throws through the sideline count. And when the Bears do try an intermediate one, it gets deflected up and intercepted because Brandon Marshall is in double coverage late in the game.
- Martellus Bennett had statistically a fantastic day (and building on a great season), but he also had a couple drops that just made everyone in my Thanksgiving living room shake their collective head.
- Jared Allen's two sacks look great in the stat sheet; his second sack should really have been credited to Will Sutton and Willie Young for flushing Matthew Stafford out of the pocket and in Allen's general direction for Allen to pop out and lay the final hit on him. And the first one, where he recovered the forced fumble, took a strong lunge for Stafford's arm to dislodge. But, I'm okay with Allen looking a step slower if he's still able to make plays (honestly, I expressed some disappointment when Cornelius Washington got hurt yesterday, because he seemed like he was going to provide some of the missing pass rush the Bears needed from their rotational folks). My question becomes, how did Allen get that ball away from Rob Sims?
- So what happened to the Bears' defense after such a good opening drive against the Lions? Calvin Johnson happened, as he got healthy really quick against the Bears. It seemed like anything Johnson wanted against Kyle Fuller was what he'd take, especially given the frequency of Fuller playing off and allowing Johnson all the room he wanted most of the day. 16 targets, 11 receptions, and 146 yards with two touchdowns later, including on one well-defended throw against Fuller, Johnson looks like he's back.
- Golden Tate really does bring something else for Lions' opponents to worry about, and it's something they've been missing for a chunk of Johnson's tenure there - a truly reliable number two receiver (or, for a large chunk of this year, a second number one).
- For some reason, Joique Bell's production amuses me, because he's more useful than I used to think.
- Not as useful, Bears' defensive scheming in general. The second quarter was just miserable to watch in terms of the Lions just going up and down the field as they pleased. Three drives into the second-quarter possessions led to three second-quarter scores, taking up 11:29 of clock and going for 228 yards. That turns into a defense that just doesn't look interested in stopping anybody. Long drives do some real work as far as killing clock and closing distance on the scoreboard, and the Bears allowed far too many over that quarter and the course of the game. Let's add in another twelve play, 95-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that crossed an additional six minutes, and the Bears just couldn't stop the Lions from grinding out long drives.
- If I see another slant to Johnson or cross to Johnson or intermediate to Johnson I am going to oh there's another throw to Johnson. I think you could have thrown a snowball at Johnson and he'd have caught it completely intact.
- Chris Conte got hurt again. Not exactly sure how the Bears would have improved defensively had he stayed healthy, but for the chances Brock Vereen and Ryan Mundy had this game, I thought things were... generally okay.
- I think the bigger problems defensively were the Bears' defensive backs playing off and the pass rush not getting home in general. Allen's two sacks, especially the second, were both extended plays. Willie Young had a sack nullified because he jumped to take away any possibility of Stafford quickly throwing the ball away, and came down on Stafford's head. Beyond that, Will Sutton had a couple of good penetrations, including on that second Allen sack. But Stafford just needed a bit of time to have Johnson or Tate make their break across the middle, and just got it straight to them. Not much time needed there.
- So this game should all but kill the final playoff hopes for the Bears, whatever had remained. Defensively, they just can't hold down offenses enough to give their own offense enough opportunities. Offensively, with exceptions (like, within ten yards after a fumble forced), they just don't take advantage of their opportunities or execute on the opportunities they do have, be it through playcalling or through a missed play, or executed poorly. Or by taking a penalty that just instantly takes everything out of whack. The point is, this team wasn't a playoff team for the entire year, and they won't be now.
- Next up is the Cowboys on Thursday night, and really, I'm not looking forward to another Thursday night game, but I'll still be hoping for wins.