If the Bears are going to play like this all the time on Thanksgiving then I am glad they only get a game on Turkey Day about once every 10 years.
Yesterday started awesome but then as I sat down to my meal, it devolved quickly.
It's almost like a pick your points scenario: Would you rather the Bears get all their points scored in the first quarter or th second half?
It's the same stuff every week; mental mistakes, coverage breakdowns, lack of adjustments, play calling, I could go on (spoiler alert: The coaches' grade isn't great.).
But here we are; an extremely talent but utterly underachieving 5-7 football team.
The defense was bad yesterday, very bad, but the offense once again struggled to put up points after starting so hot.
Let's get down to the grades:
Say what you will but Jay Cutler had a decent game at times yesterday. He was relatively efficient (64.6 percent completion), especially given how many times he was asked to throw (48!!). The short passing game was working well to begin with, and I think it got Cutler into a nice rhythm early, but then as the game went on it went to hell. A few times I thought he held the ball way too long, a notorious Cutler complaint. He also got away from solid mechanics as the OL play deteriorated. His first pick was ugly; the OL actually held up OK, but he stared down Marshall, chucked it off his back foot and while the INT itself was flukey (let's be honest, 70 percent of the time that's incomplete or comes down out of bounds) but Marshall was clearly not open and the defenders were right there. The second pick was inconsequential but after the opening drive his mechanics and decision-making went downhill. His deep ball struggles continue.
Running backs: Incomplete
There weren't enough attempts to get a read on this group. They struggled, as did the offensive line, against the No. 1 run defense unit in the league and one of the best defensive lines around. It isn't necessarily fair to the backs to judge them on only six attempts. There really weren't any holes for them to hit and there weren't enough attempts for them to get in a groove. Matt Forte missed a crucial block in pass protection on Ziggy Ansah and had an all right day as a receiver but overall this group wasn't involved.
Tight ends: B
Martellus Bennett had a very Bennett day: more or less hit and miss as a blocker, a couple head-scratching drops and then some big plays mixed in. He was really the most reliable target for Cutler much of the day. He led the Bears in yards (109) and caught eight of 11 targets. Dante Rosario had no targets and was used as a blocker.
Wide receivers: C+
The receivers played all right, especially Alshon Jeffery who broke some tackles and made good plays on both his touchdowns. Brandon Marshall on the other hand, struggled. While some of Cutler's passes were off target or not great throws, it was still concerning to see a few drops. Overall the receivers just weren't up to snuff. Marshall caught just six of 11 targets for 42 yards (seven yard average) and Jeffery caught eight of 13 for 71 yards. While the short passing game was the order of the day, there weren't enough broken tackles and the inability of the receivers to either get open or connect with Cutler on the few long balls they attempted continued to be problematic.
Offensive line: C-
The offensive line continues to struggle for Chicago. Given the injuries and shuffling that's had to go on, it isn't surprising but it is disappointing given how much they improved last year and how much that has disappeared. Michael Ola struggled much of the day, Jordan Mills' rough season continued and Jermon Bushrod had another poor game. Roberto Garza had two key holding penalties that killed drives. The most consistent lineman was easily Kyle Long and I think I speak for a lot of Bears fans when I say that I hope that come January Long is told to start preparing to move to tackle for 2015. Add OG/C to the Bears' growing list of offseason needs. They could use some tackle depth too. Either way, this unit isn't where it needs to be. Three sacks allowed (one was Forte, but one was on Ola and the other on Mills).
Overall offensive grade: C
A hot start may have given some false hope to fans and I, for one, thought that maybe things would start trending better. I even was getting myself ready for a shootout, perhaps, but it was all downhill from there. Bad OL play, questionable play calling, and poor QB decisions continue to be the downfall of a once-promising unit.
Defensive line: D+
They started so well and it appeared they had picked up where they left off Sunday but, after a hot start, the Lions wised up and began getting the ball out quicker. Jared Allen had the most consistent rush (two sacks, 1 TFL and three QB hits) and Willie Young made some plays (one pass deflection) but was robbed of a sack. Will Sutton had a pass deflection and a nice run stuff on the LIons' first play of the game but other than that the line was quiet. Stephen Paea was credited with a tackle for loss but there were no other impact plays to be had. This was a Lions offensive line that had a lot of poor play and been struggling. Awful.
This wasn't the linebackers' worst game by any stretch but it was far from a grand effort. The biggest indictment I can offer them is by looking at the stat line of those behind them: Ryan Mundy led the team in tackles with 11. When that is happening you know players are getting behind the LBs, however, the Lions did most of their damage through the air so it's not all on them. The TEs and RBs for Detroit didn't do a ton of damage out of the backfield and most of Joique Bell's yards came when the game was out of reach. The LBs did crash hard on play fakes though, leading to plays like Eric Ebron hurdling Kyle Fuller in the open field. On both of Bell's TDs, the LBs failed to make a play; on the first, they crash the line, allowing him to stretch wide and walk in and the second they were just blocked/pushed back and he leaped up and over into the endzone for six.
There was only so much these guys could do. Tim Jennings did not finish the game and the whole secondary is kind of a house of cards, but the defensive scheme could be questioned as well. The continued use of soft coverage and off-play for Calvin Johnson just seemed like a bad choice after a while. Fuller 1-on-1 with him was also a bad choice. The rookie is good but still has a lot way to go, and Calvin Johnson is still Megatron. The Bears could be trotting out Fuller, Al Louis-Jean (who some say could be a player and others say won't be anything) and Demontre Hurst (who has struggled... mightily) for the rest of the season. Does that instill any confidence? Keep in mind that they need to face Dez Bryant, Megatron again, Kenny Stills and Marques Colston in that time as well.
Brock Vereen took the blame for the first Johnson TD postgame as he was not decisive on the play. Mundy led the team in tackles and Chris Conte was unable to finish the game, but the safeties continue to be a dark mark on the whole defense.
Overall defensive grade: D-
The defense played about as poorly as has become expected. The defensive line was the most disappointing given how they've played lately, especially just this past Sunday, but the secondary was hugely disappointing and the Lions' passing game got rolling. The lack of scheme changes continues to be baffling, but we're going to riding with this garbage for at least four more games so let's just see how bad it can get, I guess.
Special teams: B
I actually had to double check but there were NO special teams flags on the Bears. Robbie Gould made a field goal and Pat O'Donnell had a much more consistent game (as he should indoors). O'Donnell 48 yards on six punts, had no touchbacks and put three inside the 20. Marc Mariani continued to impress, only bringing out one kickoff (for 24 yards) and returning two punts for 25 yards. They by no means changed the game but were solid, also on coverage where they allowed 79 return yards.
Marc Trestman's game plan wasn't terrible, it really wasn't. Attacking the number one rush defense with a short passing game is a standard West Coast principle and it replaces the run game, but just abandoning the run all together seemed baffling and after the first couple of drives the screen game wasn't working. Whether it was bad blocking or poor tackle breaking, yards after the catch weren't coming. The amount of play action was surprising given how little they were handing it off and at some point it seemed like trying to get Matt Forte more than just 11 touches (granted he was targeted three more times in pass game that were not receptions). While we all mocked the Alshon end around, it was at least a run formation that opened things up by making defenses think about the different plays but that's disappeared this season. Mel Tucker's lack of a game plan also chaffed me. The soft zones on Calvin Johnson with one deep and, without a pass rush, it allowed Matt Stafford to pick the Bears apart. Another awful day for the coaches.
What stuck out to you yesterday?