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Bears Vs Lions: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

We're going through our notes and other minutiae from yesterday's game against the Lions.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

  • May as well start with the story of the week, Jimmy Clausen, and his performance. Statistically, not the most impressive outside of two touchdowns and, until the final throw, an interception-free game. Eye test, pretty much the same thing, as both touchdown drives required some continuation from the Lions (Roughing the punter, a muffed punt catch) to give the Bears back the ball deep in Lions territory. Seven drops according to Fox (and I didn't keep an exact count myself, but there were a lot) didn't help matters either. But the Bears took their standard offensive gameplan and gave it to Clausen - lots of lateral stuff, maybe a bit of five-to-ten yard depth throws, some bad run plays (especially past the first quarter), and just hope somebody can break three tackles. As far as I'm concerned, at this point and as I've made the case for as the year has gone on, it's coaching. I just don't know if Trestman and Kromer can put together an offensive gameplan that's meant to actually score points, or if they actually like running two short throws, then on an incompletion or a drop running the ball on third and nine.
  • Really, I'm not sure what you can expect of an offense that goes sideways far more frequently than it does vertically - and the problem isn't so much that it's lateral, it's that those plays are just as likely to go nowhere because the receivers usually have a defender or two sitting right on top of them as the ball gets to them.
  • Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson, especially Jeffery, combined for 25 targets and at least five drops. It just doesn't work when your main receiving targets can't catch - maybe there's an effect from switching quarterbacks. I do think the offense would have hummed along a little better if some of those drops were converted, but given where some of those drops were (shy of the first-down line), not sure it would have made much difference in keeping drives going.
  • The deep throw that just eluded Alshon Jeffery was a really well thrown ball, however. If Jeffery's able to get the half step he would have had had he not been held back, that's easily a touchdown. Both actual touchdown throws were very nicely done; Clausen does have some nice touch on the ball, even if it's not the most accurate thing ever. He made some very good throws, but no matter who's quarterbacking, the offensive playcalls do need to be a bit more aggressive and a bit more in tune with the game.
  • It's disappointing, because this is the week the Bears wasted a (well, for this team...) solid defensive performance, especially in the defensive line. Stephen Paea was extremely disruptive. Jared Allen picked up a sack. David Bass got an escaping Matthew Stafford for another one. Willie Young was playing well before his Achilles injury. Ego Ferguson showed a few flashes this week. Three takeaways, two interceptions and the recovery of a muffed punt. Sure, the Lions aren't the most consistent offensive bunch, but holding the Lions to 20 points is infinitely better than some of the defensive showings this unit's had.
  • I didn't mind the decision to go for fourth down at the one; I also wouldn't have minded picking up the three points at that point, not that those three points mattered. I also don't think that was the spot to finally throw to Eben Britton deep in the back of the end zone, and certainly not a spot for Martellus Bennett to kill the play anyway with an offensive pass interference penalty, then an unsportsmanlike cherry on top. I'd've opted for the "Give to Forte or Carey off the edge or middle/side" play or the "Leak Dante Rosario into the flat for an easy toss" play. The Jeffery bullet screen behind Josh Morgan and Marquess Wilson was a really nice fourth-down solution too earlier in the drive, for a quick hit and quick four yards.
  • Dominic Raiola should be fined and suspended for what is hopefully the final game of his career for intentionally attempting to injure a player, when he stomped on the ankle of Ego Ferguson.
  • Kyle Fuller did a much better job this week against Calvin Johnson than he did in the first matchup on Thanksgiving, and part of that was from a much more persistent pass rush, although Fuller improved his own coverage on Johnson. He seemed like he was playing a little tighter, breaking up a couple passes.
  • Ryan Mundy's interception driving on Golden Tate just shy of the end zone was really well timed; while the announcing crew was trying to get on Mundy for getting there early, if he gets to the space the ball's going to, he has as much a right to that space as the receiver does. It's why I like hockey's definition of "interference" a little better than football's. Mundy really should have had a second interception when Stafford's throw was even behind Mundy, the trailing safety on the play. Vereen's interception was a capitalization on a rushed Stafford throw.
  • The Bears had two less penalties than the Lions, but Tim Jennings' monster third-down pass interference penalty to put the Lions from the benches to the doorstep of a go-ahead touchdown (immediately converted by Joique Bell's insistence that nobody even consider tackling him) was 46 yards of game-forfeiting badness, and may as well be included in the turnover column. There was no reason for that penalty to have happened.
  • Speaking of Joique Bell, can anyone make a tackle?
  • For an offensive line without Kyle Long, the rookie guard tandem of Ryan Groy and Michael Ola held up a little better than should have reasonably been expected. Ndamukong Suh picked up two sacks and a couple run stops, and of course he's going to get some things because he's a really good defensive tackle, but for the assignment, it could have been a lot worse. The rest of the defensive front for Detroit was held relatively silent.
  • Christian Jones had a strong game. Eleven tackles and a sack.
  • So what changed about the Bears after this game? Absolutely nothing. Nothing about this game should have changed anybody's thoughts about the coaching future of anybody in the Bears' organization, no matter which side of the fence you sit on. In the end, the Bears are still a five-win, double-digit loss team heading into the final game of the season and on the outside of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.