- The first step is to congratulate Matt Forte on setting the single season receptions record for a running back, beating out Larry Centers' 101 with his 102nd reception on the year. The second step is to point out how the Bears' offense was completely figured out to the point where Forte picked up not even three yards per reception. It's good for Forte to pick up that record, but forcing the ball to him with that frequency and with people on him immediately isn't a sign of a cohesive offense.
- Speaking of cohesive, the lone touchdown in the game came off of blown coverage; Tim Jennings did not go back into his cover-3 zone to stick with the receiver and/or cover that zone, and because of that, the receiver was wide open. I haven't seen a receiver that wide open since Illinois blew coverage allowing a Louisiana Tech receiver wide open for a deep throw on Friday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The fact I'm mentioning maybe the worst team to make a bowl game this year should say something.
- Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte had 16 of the team's 23 receptions and 23 of the team's 36 targets, and it's no coincidence the two posted the lowest yards-per-reception on the game (of course, due to the nature of most tight end and running back routes, but even a running back, especially Matt Forte, shouldn't be hitting 2.9 yards per reception). But it does further show how predictable the Bears' offense became.
- And if you're Josh Morgan, why are you running out of bounds on the final drive before receiving the ball?
- Of course, that's not the only complaint with the offensive output. Run plays - the Bears called four in the first four plays, then two consecutive penalties hit, and the Bears immediately called two short passes to Forte for a combined three yards. On their second drive, they followed a short pass in shotgun with another run play, then called five consecutive passes before their next run play for three yards. Three plays in the first half went for more than ten yards, including a 19-yarder to Alshon Jeffery which, again, came on a short throw.
- Penalties kill offensive drives, but going through the play-by-play and checking the immediately following play, I'm amazed how many incompletions or short plays for nothing follow penalties, which makes it impossible to get anything going. I counted twenty total yards on the remainders of series immediately following penalties (not counting additional penalties except on the final drive - because that final series had a penalty not part of a back-to-back penalty set). Of those twenty yards, ten came on one play, and eighteen came on the final two called plays to be just short of a first down on fourth and nine. No, I'm not expecting constant first downs after penalties, but I am expecting at least competitive offense on a penalty to be a threat for a first down. Even one false start with this offense is the end of a drive, which doesn't work for a consistent offense.
- By the way, a delay of game off a false start can only be beat by the false start coming off a timeout. Thankfully, the timeout was two plays before the false start.
- The Bears were given two golden opportunities for a touchdown, on the interception by Kyle Fuller and the kick return by Marc Mariani, and neither was converted for a touchdown, especially starting at first and goal from the nine yard line. (It was first typed nein, and I was really tempted to leave it like that, for all the result it had.) I'm aware that the takeaways of these last two bullet points are, again, the Bears aren't a good team, and the Bears don't have a good offense.
- Marc Mariani has good vision for a returner, but he has no speed to make the most of it.
- Yes, I like Shea McClellin and I think he is/can be a serviceable enough linebacker, and I don't think he should go anywhere next year. That being said, Christian Jones and Jonathan Bostic had pretty strong games. And if those are the three best linebackers on the team (which, I can kind of believe, since Khaseem Greene apparently can only see the field from the bench), get them all out there. However, there needs to be some significant improvement from all angles in the offseason.
- (And, I know McClellin still has trouble getting off blocks, which has been a problem for him since leaving college as a defensive end/pass rusher. That's probably not something he'll develop out of completely, unfortunately. Which probably means he'd be better off developing in coverage or being a free-rusher, if he can avoid the blocker.)
- David Bass (The WCG Sunday Livestream favorite and my guy) got the second-end opportunity and turned it into a sack with a nice little inside move. Jeremiah Ratliff picked up another sack himself with a good up-the-middle rush. In the ex-Bears department, Corey Wootton picked one up against his former team, and also gave the Bears a free-play on Jay Cutler's one intercepted throw.
- Speaking of interceptions, this is the first game since the victory against Atlanta where the Bears didn't have a turnover. Of course, they'd lose the game on a game when they couldn't move the ball at all. That, plus penalties, plus failing to do anything in the red zone will usually spell a loss. I'm not sure what the actual numbers are, but I imagine the number of wins scoring less than ten points in league history is... well... small. (Actually, having looked it up on PFR, I immediately retract that statement. The last time a team scored less than 10 points and won was game 12 of 2012, when the Jets beat the Cardinals 7-6. The last time the Bears won with ten points or less was Week 11 of 2006 against the Jets, winning 10-0.)
- Also, Ka'Deem Carey got absolutely zero snaps in this game. (This is the required Ka'Deem Carey note.)
- There's not exactly a whole lot else to say. It wasn't a particularly exciting game, wasn't a particularly well-executed game, and sure wasn't a game that had a whole lot of meaning to it. It was a formality. The Bears played all the players that indicated they wanted to win the game, then mostly called a gameplan designed to get a player a record and not do much to try to win the game (outside of a couple drops and the missed Alshon Jeffery touchdown - speaking of, his leg still hasn't touched down). Though I think the Bears should have gotten a touchdown based solely on the Demontre Hurst and company carrying Kyle Fuller across the line.
- That being said, the Bears' season is over now, and we're looking forward to which directions the team goes in terms of coaching, the draft, and other player acquisitions. And the Bears have a lot of work ahead of them to get back on the right track.
The Bears' season has ended, and we're going over our notes and other minutiae from the final game of the season.