You know, there was a time, apparently on a playing surface far, far away, that this game was actually competitive. You would think that being down by 8 heading into halftime, getting the ball to start the second half, the Bears might be able to pull something out with Jimmy Clausen and the game could still be close and competitive late.
It's really funny how fast things can spiral out of hand before you know it.
Sure, the Bears had their chances early and throughout the first half. Jay Cutler was having a perfect passer rating type of day, making great throws and reads, making plays with his feet on unplanned plays and on option keepers. He was doing it with a wide receiver corps held together by baling wire, string, three wads of chewing gum, Josh Bellamy, and what can only be considered the element of surprise. The defense, if not for the two huge defensive pass interference calls, was holding somewhat well - or as well as allowing 21 in the first half can look, when allowing an opening kickoff return for a touchdown.
Then The Interception II: The Tackle Attempt happened.
Last week, I made a comparison to the "Tell Martz I said F*** You" season, in which Cutler was breaking the pocket at will left and right, making reads as he would and generally playing at a higher level. Yesterday, he was playing at a higher level, before throwing an interception and hurting himself on the tackle attempt. The Bears didn't win another game that season with Caleb Hanie at quarterback. There's a lot of time left in this sesaon, so I don't think we're looking at 0-16, but things look bleak if Cutler can't go for any length of time.
- I'll get to some individual play/detail notes in a bit, but some game-context stuff first. Such as both quarterbacks (Cutler and Carson Palmer) having "QBR" of over 96 (96.9 for Cutler, 99.1 for Palmer) and both having passer ratings over 115. Both were really playing well.
- For the second consecutive game, the Bears couldn't get a quarterback on the ground. They did get a little more actual pressure on Palmer this time, but nothing resembling a threat of a sack. This is going to need to turn around heading into next week against Seattle, and given Russell Wilson's mobility, that's a tall damn order.
- Larry Fitzgerald had himself a "turn back the clock" game, going for over 100 yards and catching three touchdowns; the first time he's had multiple touchdowns since November 24, 2013. That was also a career high in receiving touchdowns in a game for him. A day matched up against Kyle Fuller apparently can do that, as Fuller got destroyed this game.
- Maybe it's just me, but the right side of the line just hasn't been holding up well. It should get better, but Kyle Long right now is struggling at tackle and Vladimir Ducasse isn't quite there at guard either.
- I'm okay with seeing Jeremy Langford on the field; I get why the Bears went to Matt Forte on 3rd down and 1 to run the stretch and pick up that yard, but despite going for a 4.1 YPC, the Cardinals did a solid job cutting down Forte when possible, and they were glued to him on that carry. I can't help but think that Langford up the middle could have gotten that yard; however, it's just one of those plays where if the Bears execute, we aren't talking about it.
- Seeing Chris Johnson not in a Titans uniform is weird.
- The Bears were 2-12 on third down. That isn't going to work. I feel like a disproportionate amount of those were in the hands of Jimmy Clausen. (They were; the Cutler-led Bears were 1-2.)
- Raise your hand if you committed more penalties than the Bears on Sunday. No one should be raising their hands. Two of those were on disgusting first-half defensive pass interference penalties that both continued on for touchdowns, could have been called for another that directly was already a touchdown... Some huge chunks of yardage that made an already bad situation worse. Will someone please locate the ball before trying to make a play?
- So, Cardinals, going for it on fourth down with five minutes to go up by 25? Okay.
- The opening kickoff return for a touchdown was nothing short of brilliant blocking by the Cardinals made much easier by a guy with actual speed and mobility. Funny how having one of those guys helps you flip field position like that, as opposed to a guy who's best known for being sort of sure-handed. Well, Marc Mariani at least looks good catching and running through tight punt-return traffic.
- I feel like you should be informed Zach Miller made his first regular season catch in four years and didn't snap in seventeen pieces. Early on, Miller has been getting some more of the looks in the passing game.
- The Cardinals really took note of how the Bears moved the ball on the ground last week, and really tried to shut Forte down early, sniffing out a screen and filling inside gaps hard.
- Josh Bellamy's first ever NFL catch for a touchdown came from somebody really blowing their assignment; there's no other reason he should have been as wide open as he was. Jay Cutler's been sharp early at keeping his eyes open and keeping plays alive, as well as finding the open guy.
- Cutler looks really smooth running that football off the read option.
- The second touchdown drive, really kept alive by Cutler's legs and fumble-recovery-out-of-bounds, featured a lot of Jeremy Langford, and it's clear he'll have a role in this offense going forward, especially capped by Langford's first career touchdown.
- Two defensive pass interference calls against the Bears, two touchdowns for the Cardinals. Not sure what Alan Ball did on his (Fuller's was well earned), but both defensive backs really need to figure out what a "football" is and locate it in the air first before they start flailing for it.
- Pickwatch 2015: Jay Cutler's one incompletion went for a pick-six interception, which, after a really solid day, ended his day on the tackle attempt of the interception. The throw, behind Bennett, looked initially like a bad throw, but Bennett stutter-stopped on his route and Cutler threw to the spot.
- Injurywatch 2015: If Cutler's injury is his hamstring, then I must have been walking on the wrong set of limbs my entire life.
- Does Jimmy Clausen have the ability to throw over a defensive lineman?
- Welcome to the 2015 season, Jared Allen. You and your tip-pick can stay.
- End of the half analysis of Clausen - if Cutler's gone for any length of time, I really, really hope he gets a little extra prep and work. And by a little, I mean please, he needs some work. Two turnovers net six points and barely 10 yards?
- Dane was needling me during the pre-game stream about running a flea flicker. Of course, the Cardinals would run one for a touchdown. Because why not. Shea McClellin was totally guilty of pass interference, but because it was a catch anyway, they just ate the flag. Apparently good coverage wasn't discussed in camp.
- Pernell McPhee played much better in this one, but, fewer penalties on low late hits on the quarterback, please. I guess I should take "low late hit on the quarterback" as an improvement on "no hits, no pass rush"?
- Alan Ball finally made a play on a ball, you guys! ... Unfortunately this has been an awful game by him and Kyle Fuller all game.
- How did Lamarr Houston end up covering Larry Fitzgerald on a reception? (Of course, with the expected outcome of such a combination.)
- Adrian Amos whiffed a tackle, as well.
- Jimmy Clausen just was given credit for not dropping a snap badly enough to have to take a safety. He dove forward and still lost a yard. This game went to this place to get a silver lining.
- Fuller was benched for Terrence Mitchell midway through the 4th quarter.
- The Bears racked up 170 penalty yards, the most in franchise history since that many yards in 1944.
In summary, you just hope that it was one game, that this kind of thing won't happen again, but after last year, this team is simply in desperate need of a talent infusion. We'll just hope things can get better next week. The season's not over, but after two games and a 25-point defeat, it feels like a really steep hill to climb with this bunch.