Yesterday morning on the Livestream, Steven Schweickert and I talked about how this was a winnable game and then we both picked the Bears to win. This was after I cautioned, noting how the Bears always seem to play poorly at Ford Field and that this had letdown game written all over it. Heading into yesterday's game I just had a nagging feeling.
Maybe it was because it truly felt like the first game of the year that the Bears were supposed to win, but I just had a bad feeling about yesterday but I shook it off and told myself "No, this is the 0-5 Lions, we got this."
We did not got this.
There was a lot wrong with the game and yes, there were some bad calls on the part of the refs, but that's not an excuse not a cause. Teams need to rise up and overcome those things. That's what good teams do.
With that out of the way, here are my five takeaways:
1) The Bears are better with Alshon Jeffery
It's easy to forget that just one week ago some people were quietly wondering if the Bears would be better off without Jeffery. If they should just trade him away or let him walk after the season because he can't stay on the field. There were some that didn't outright say it, but it seemed to be implied that perhaps the Bears would be just fine with Marquess Wilson, Eddie Royal, Cameron Meredith and didn't need Jeffery.
While letting him walk or trading him if there is good compensation to be had are still viable options, I don't think there is any doubting that the Bears are the same or better without Jeffery. They are without a doubt a better team with him. The question remains: can they rely on him to contribute consistently and what is his price considering he isn't always available?
Those are difficult questions to answer and will be even if Jeffery is healthy the rest of the season. For his part I say that there is perhaps something to him holding himself out last week. Taking the extra game opened him up to criticism, but he returned at 100 percent and seemed to have no problem with burst, leaping, vertical jump or tackle breaking.
2) John Fox cost the Bears the game as much as the refs
I don't know if I'm preaching to the choir here or if this will be considered a hot take, but I think John Fox cost Chicago the game with his conservative management late in the game.
It's Fox's style, it's his M.O., at one point in the game I just kind of expected it to happen and saw it coming, but it doesn't change the fact or deflect the fault.
After the Bears went up 31-24 with 7:50 to go in the game and then held the Lions to (an equally conservative) field goal I thought "If the Bears run it three straight times and punt they deserve to lose."
They ran it three straight times, punted and almost won.
The Lions hadn't exactly been stagnant against the Bears' defense and while the defense came up with a couple of key stops, I certainly didn't feel the confidence to take the chance to have the D come up with another big stop. But before even that decision, the choice to run it three straight times...
Sure, there's no Ndamukong Suh in Honolulu Blue over there, but the Bears hadn't been running roughshod over Detroit, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford had been contained and were averaging less than four yards a carry, so running three straight times wasn't a sure success to begin with. Plus you had a number of receivers who had been having success against Detroit's secondary, so why not throw it just once? The Lions had all three timeouts, so the clock was going to stop anyway. To me, that lost the game.
3) The cornerbacks are still awful
Calvin Johnson scorched the Chicago secondary, again, but not only that but Lance Moore, who I am pretty sure is 100 years old and Golden Tate also each burned the Bears' defensive backfield on more than one occasion. This is not a strength of this team, it was never going to be mistaken for one, but the effort yesterday was just bad.
There were ugly plays by Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and especially Sherrick McManis. It was bad all around.
4) Turnovers weren't enough
Going into this week, myself and many others were saying that the defense was improving but it was time started getting some turnovers.
Well they got three yesterday, including two on special teams but it made no difference. Turnovers are nice and the Bears even turned those turnovers into 18 of their 34 points but it wasn't enough. Maybe stopping them on more than just eight of their 17 third downs would've been a good start. Or covering Calvin Johnson.
5) The defense is still a work in progress
Yes, this is really just a conclusion drawn from looking at Nos. 3 and 4, but it still stands to reason. The Bears front seven was all right at getting pressure on Matthew Stafford; they sacked him twice but hit him a total of eight times.
But even the pressure wasn't enough. There were a lot of broken tackles as a result of poor form or otherwise, but the Lions racked up near 550 yards of offense, 546 to be exact, including 155 rushing yards to the 32nd ranked rushing offense. It was an ugly defensive day for Vic Fangio's group but if this team is going to be in the vicinity of .500 they will have to do a lot more improving.
What were the things that stuck out to you most heading into the bye week?