That was an excruciating loss for the Chicago Bears. Their defense was giving up rushing yards like it was 2013. The Buffalo Bills ran for 193 yards on 33 attempts for a 5.8 average. You want a recipe for success in the NFL, rush for close to 200 yards and win the turnover battle 3-1.
The Bears were hoping to make Bills' quarterback E.J. Manuel beat them, but they couldn't slow down Fred Jackson (7 rushing attempts, 61 yards, 8.7 average) or Anthony Dixon (5 carries, 60 yards, 12.0 ypc). And speaking of Manuel, the Bears allowed him a career high 72.7 completion percentage. Besides his one interception, he efficiently ran the offense.
For the Bears' offense, Jay Cutler threw a backbreaking interception in the 2nd half and he had a few other off balance "what the Hell are you thinking"' type throws. How much of that was due to having Brandon Marshall hobbled and Alshon Jeffery out is unknown. His overall numbers weren't bad -- 34 for 49, 349 yards, 2 TDs, 2 Ints and a 86.2 passer rating -- but all some fans will remember is that silly throw back across his body on 3rd and 1.
Overall the Bears weren't that bad on 3rd downs, they converted 5-12 (42%). Last year Chicago was 7th in the NFL in 3rd down conversions at 42.1%. Defensively they held the Bills to 4-12 (33%).
The Bears held a slight time of possession advantage, 34:42 - 30:32.
As far as the playing time breaks down, Cutler, Kyle Long, Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills were the only Bears to play all 74 offensive snaps. Matt Slauson played 21 snaps before getting hurt and Roberto Garza made it 29. I thought back up offensive lineman Michael Ola (53 snaps) and Brian de la Peunte (45 snaps) played well in relief.
Even though he was laboring on a bad wheel, Brandon Marshall was in on 93% of the snaps. He was targeted a team high 12 times and he hauled in 8 balls for 71 yards and a TD. Alshon Jeffery caught 5 of the 6 balls thrown his way en route to 71 yards. A bad hamstring limited him to 36/74 snaps.
Tight end Martellus Bennett scored the Bears' first touchdown and he only took four plays off on the day. He had 70 yards on 8 receptions and he was targeted 10 times. With fullback Tony Fiammetta inactive, it gave a boost to the playing time of the back up TEs. Dante Rosario and Matthew Mulligan each had 14 snaps on offense. Rosario caught the only ball thrown his way and he ran for 12 yards. Am I alone in wanting him to be more involved in the offense? Rosario also chimed in with 18 snaps on special teams.
Recently added Santonio Holmes was on the field for 28 snaps (38%). I'd expect his playing time to increase as he becomes more comfortable with the playbook. He caught 2 of the 5 balls thrown his way for 21 yards. Josh Morgan had 50 snaps and Micheal Spurlock added 15 to round out the receivers. I would be OK if Spurlock's snaps were cut down next week.
Matt Forte was again on the field for the bulk of the game. He had 25 touches for 169 total yards and he was only relieved by rookie Ka'Deem Carey for 4 plays. I know Forte prides himself on staying in great shape, but I would love to see the Bears be able to cut his playing time down. Hopefully Carey earns more time as the year progresses.
One thing I was really looking forward to seeing was how the Bears split up the playing time along the defensive line. It was skewed more than I expected. The Bills only ran 57 plays, so it's possible the Bears had a snap count figure in mind for their defensive linemen. The starting defensive ends, who both were over 1,000 snaps last year, rarely left the field. Jared Allen played 53/57 (93%) snaps and Lamar Houston played 48/57% (84%). Each of these DEs had one tackle. Third DE Willie Young only saw the field for 21 plays. Considering he had four tackles, two of the team's three tackles for loss (TFL) and the only sack, I'd like to see more of Young.
Among the defensive tackles, Jeremiah Ratliff had the most snaps at 46. The NFL credited him with five total tackles. Stephen Paea had 3 tackles in his 37/57 (65%) snaps. Rookie DTs Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson had 11 and 12 snaps respectively. Sutton picked up a tackle in his debut game.
The safety rotation didn't materialize that much. Ryan Mundy played every defensive snap and Chris Conte only sat out 11. Danny McCray played for Conte on those snaps. Once again the Bear safeties led the team in tackles and that's never a good thing. Mundy had 7 and Conte had 6.
Rounding out the defensive backs, Charles Tillman played all but one snap and Tim Jennings played all 57. Rookie Kyle Fuller was on the field for 61% of the defensive snaps and he had five total tackles including the other TFL. Tillman and Jennings each had 4 total tackles and Tillman had a QB hit.
As expected, Lance Briggs was the only linebacker that played every snap. He had three total tackles. D.J. Williams had 22 snaps, Shea McClellin had 24 and Jon Bostic had 33. McClellin had two tackles and Bostic had three. The NFL didn't credit Williams with any stats, but if I remember correctly, he did remove a Bills helmet on one play.
McCray was the busiest special teamer with 21 snaps, followed by Sherrick McManis at 20. Rookie undrafted free agent Christian Jones had 19 special teams plays and fellow rookie Senorise Perry had 18, as did Shaun Draughn.
What numbers stood out to you this week?