Yesterday was an incredibly frustrating game to watch. The Bears played poorly, especially on offense, where great play calling has been a strength, was no where to be found yesterday.
The defense put in their work, getting after Blaine Gabbert and sacking him four times, but yet they couldn't contain him and he managed to lead the 49ers in rushing. The game reminded me a lot of the Minnesota game in that the Bears played fairly well and were in the game most of the time, but were clearly not playing great and then collapsed at the end with a chance to win it.
Just as Teddy Bridgewater managed to find openings in the secondary in order to win that game, Gabbert did it in overtime. The secondary broke down just long enough for Torrey Smith to get behind everyone on D and score the winning TD.
I don't believe the Bears deserved to win the game with their play though. This wasn't a game that they had in the bag and then let go on some fluke play or something entirely out of their hands. They simply weren't good enough.
Let's get to the takeaways:
This team is missing something intangible - The Bears have now had three chances to reach the .500 mark this season after starting 0-3; in Week 6 vs. Detroit, Week 11 vs. Denver and yesterday. All three of those games were marred by mistakes and poor offensive displays. I don't know what it is but to have three games that can get you back to the even mark and to lose them all, very close, right at the end of the game (and two of them in overtime), is kind of crazy. I don't want to say the team is lacking "clutch-ness" but there is something seemingly missing from them being able to rise up and overcome in these season-defining games. They showed it in Green Bay and then it just disappeared when they really had a chance to get the season flowing here into December.
The Bears are just bad at home - Chicago is 1-5 at home this season, beating only Oakland. They are 3-11 at home since the beginning of the 2014 season. This is just appalling. Teams are supposed to do well at home, they are supposed to be able to perform better there but the Bears have been unable to do that. I don't know why it is but John Fox needs to do something.
For all of the praise Gase has received, the offense isn't very good - Since the bye week the Bears have scored 20, 22, 37, 15, 17 and 20 points. The Rams game is clearly the outlier there and the team scored two 80+ yard touchdowns, which is a very rare occurrence. The defense, of all things, has kept this team in games. Yes the offense has been shorthanded at times but there are still enough playmakers on paper to score more than the 20.9 that they are averaging. The Bears have not scored a touchdown in the third quarter at all this year. Good offensive teams should be able to go into the locker room at half time, pick out some things the defense is doing against them and use that to their advantage to get in the endzone coming out in the second half. For all the good that Gase has done for the unit, it still has a long way to go.
Have the Bears found replacements for Mariani? Deonte Thompson was activated to the roster before the Denver game three weeks ago. Since then he's returned five kicks for 183 yards, averaging 36.6 yards per return. He nearly took the KR the distance late in the fourth quarter, almost setting up the potential game-winning field goal himself (although we know how that ended). Bryce Callahan returned a punt on the "Johnny Knox Return" play for 34 yards. Yes, it was a bit of a trick play but Callahan looked fast and elusive. Marc Mariani is averaging 6.8 yards per punt return and 24.7 yards per kick return. He has way more value as a possession receiver and blocking WR than Thompson or Josh Bellamy and Cameron Meredith, so he still has value to the team, but perhaps its time to take him off returner duties.
Chicago continues to match their opponents, for better or worse - This team has surprised many fans and pundits alike with how quickly they turned into a competitive team. However, every time the season has a chance to really get things going in a positive direction, they suffer a set back. One of my biggest gripes with this team, and it was on full display yesterday, is that they play up or down to their opponent. Just 10 days ago this team went toe-to-toe with a Packers team that's had their number for the better part of the last half-decade and then comes out against a 3-7 49ers team that has struggled to do anything well or have a team identity and matches them to a T in this bad loss. It's great when the team can come out and play right with teams like Denver, Green Bay or Minnesota but then to also match the mistakes and rudderless teams like Detroit and San Francisco is beyond frustrating. I'm not sure what the coaches and players can do to shake that, but it needs to happen quickly.
What were your takeaways from yesterday's game?