I toyed with the idea last night while writing this up of just ending paragraphs in ellipses and just trailing off the end of the piece and leaving you guys to wonder just what the hell happened. However, unlike Brian Hoyer and the Bears yesterday, I at least try to finish my pieces.
No, when you allow a 51 yard passing touchdown and 17 points in the final quarter of the game, that’s not a way to finish out a defensive performance. So why is my first mention about something on the offensive side of the football? For that, let’s go to the recap, because while things started out pretty promising, they went horribly south starting at about 1:47 remaining in the first half.
The Jaguars started out after a punt and marched the ball 12 plays deep into Bears’ territory. The Bears couldn’t get out of their own way with defensive pass interference penalties to twice extend the Jacksonville drive, the first a relatively meaningless 2-yarder, but the second a killer 3rd down penalty that gave the Jaguars the ball at the Bears’ 6 yard line. Blake Bortles tried to fire a low bullet to Allen Robinson, but he bobbled it and Tracy Porter snared the interception. Eleven plays and 58 yards later, Connor Barth knocked in his first field goal of the game.
After a three and out, Hoyer led an impressive 16 play, 86 yard drive featuring spreading the ball around to Alshon Jeffery, Zach Miller, Cam Meredith and a somewhat more stifled running game. But that running game finished the job as Jordan Howard pounded the one yard score home for his first rushing touchdown of the year.
Another Jacksonville three and out gave the Bears the ball with 1:47 left in the first half, and if there was a time to assert dominance and put the boot to the Jaguars’ throat, this drive would be it, with three timeouts and the ball at the 22 yard line, a chance to at least add on points with a full balanced attack, right?
Not quite. Instead the Bears ran one time on the drive, threw incomplete on 5 of 7 throws, and on the completions, there were no out-of-bounds plays or ball spikes. The Bears had a chance to at least add points; instead they wasted the entire clock and kept all three timeouts in their pocket. What John Fox was saving them for, we will never know.
We got into this last week and earlier in the year about the team’s margin of error and the Bears’ inability to finish drives, and this was just another exhibit in the Smithsonian at this point. They aren’t talented enough to get away with wasting opportunities for points, especially when the coaching staff is complicit in that wasting of opportunities.
The second half started off in scintillating fashion - and by that I mean you’re likely hypnotized by bad football and consistent three and outs/short drives and punts on both sides. Hoyer continued to misfire, throwing past or over receivers, and when he found people, Alshon Jeffery was dropping a somewhat-overthrown ball that hit him in both hands and Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard both missed a short toss that hit them in the hands.
The Bears finally added more points late in the third; Cam Meredith broke a short reception for 36 yards, Carey added another 16 on a run, but the drive stalled as Hoyer missed Jeffery and the Bears settled for a field goal.
That got the Jaguars started. The next drive, Willie Young was called for roughing the passer on third and 7. That gave the ball to the Jaguars on the Bears’ 32, and Bortles found Allen Hurns for 29 yards coupled with defensive holding against Jacoby Glenn to put the ball on the one. Chris Ivory finished the job.
After a Bears’ punt, Bortles was sacked on the second play of the next drive by Willie Young, who forced a fumble deep in Jacksonville territory. Hoyer settled for eating a sack in the middle of the field and again the Bears settled for three points.
The Jaguars undid those three points on the next drive to push things to 16-10. Danny Trevathan was flagged for a facemask on 2nd and 8 to bring the ball into Bears territory and Marquise Lee picked up a couple short completions to move the ball into the Bears’ red zone, but they settled for three.
A Bears 3 and out on an aborted snap and a short throw to Zach Miller led to the Jaguars’ “heroics,” as Bortles found Arrelious Benn for 51 yards and the touchdown to take the lead.
The Bears still had 2:49 to go in the game to work with and three timeouts, so with Barth having not missed a kick, they might be okay, right? Meredith picked up 18 yards and two plays later after the two minute warning the Bears pushed into Jaguars territory. Hoyer passed short again to Meredith and missed short to Jeffery, then missed a short pass short of the sticks to Meredith on third down, with Jordan Howard called for holding. Hoyer settled for finding Meredith for 6 yards on 3rd and 16, then after an injury timeout for an injured Josh Sitton, 4th and 10 went to Jeffery... who had Jalen Ramsey all over him who broke up the pass.
The Bears had any number of opportunities to get even one more field goal or touchdown, but between squandering their biggest opportunity at the end of the half and continually throwing short of the sticks, they were content to just ride it out.
Brian Hoyer and the Bears’ coaching staff, after going up 10-0, played to not lose the game. That’s exactly how you lose a game.
- Brian Hoyer’s stat sheet still looks kinda pretty (30/49, 302 yards, though that rating of 78.8...), but we’ve seen his limitations in action the past few weeks and they were stark yesterday. Alshon Jeffery was in single coverage for some reason the entire first half against Ramsey and had a step on him streaking to the end zone; Hoyer’s throw couldn’t get over the top. Numerous times he settled for Zach Miller, Eddie Royal or Cam Meredith short of the first down marker on third down, which is a fantastic way to end a drive prematurely. Put bluntly, on third and six to keep a potential game-winning drive alive, Hoyer either elected not to, or wasn’t trusted to, throw six yards for a first down. The last four games are exhibit A in “stats lie.” Hoyer still hasn’t thrown a turnover, but that whole 30th-ranked points-per-game average took another hit yesterday. Per my math, they move to 31st, only ahead of Houston, at about 16 points per game (EDIT: Houston scored 14 points after this was typed, so the Bears are officially 32nd in points per game). You do not have an effective offense if you are asking your defense to hold teams to 14 points per game. You have an offense that is scared of making plays - without any sort of killer instinct. It’s not good offense.
- I ran through some of Hoyer’s numbers on Twitter for field position and down, and they’re about what you could glean from the eye test - they drop in the red zone and on third down (of course they would), but the big drop is completion percentage (In the red zone, to 50% and on third down, to 63.3% this year) and a drop to about 3.2 Y/A in the red zone. That generally holds true for his career (Red zone: 53.49%, 3rd Down 55.18%) and it’s especially noticeable if you look at his numbers on third and 7-9 yards (43.21%, 4.6 Y/A).
- Part of that whole “bad offense” thing is scheme, the Bears really should not be having Brian Hoyer throw 49 times a game. But after two solid weeks of running the ball, the Bears stumbled. Howard ran at a 2.3 YPC clip; Ka’Deem Carey had the big burst of a run with 50 yards on the day, but as a collective the Bears ran for 3.4 YPC. However, 27 total carries (26 by design) is still more than any other week. The Jaguars generally did a solid job rallying to the ball. Their defense isn’t great, but it’s also not the Lions or Colts.
- Already mentioned but can we send the Jaguars a fruit basket for leaving Jeffery in single coverage in the first half? I mean, they adjusted, but at least we know Hoyer knows Jeffery exists now. Jeffery had 13 targets, including the 4th and 10 final toss.
- Also, this team is pretty good after the catch, plenty of guys that can run with the ball in hand - which would play okay into the tossing the ball short of the first down marker if they weren’t wearing guys who wouldn’t let them turn upfield like they knew it was Hoyer’s tendency.
- And can we acknowledge maybe Cam Meredith knows what he’s doing with the ball in his hands? Meredith has back to back 100-yard games and maybe is stepping up as the reliable #2 receiving option we were looking at Eddie Royal or Kevin White to be.
- That being said, 17 points allowed is usually enough to win the game but to allow that in one quarter is inexcusable. Jacoby Glenn had a terrible game when he was in and the Bears continue to be unfamiliar with the term “pass rush.” Willie Young padded his sack total, but no other player is consistently generating any sort of quarterback disruption.
- One last quarterback note and I’ll leave it well enough alone - the team is not good enough in any other area to actually make the quarterback matter. The run game isn’t consistent enough, the defense has played hard but faltered, and I swear at home John Fox has a cuckoo clock lined up in a guillotine.
- Bobbie Massie quietly didn’t have a bad game. The world did not spin off its axis.
- The defense did a solid job after the Jaguars’ first drive and the Floridians seemed pretty well subdued for a full 40 minutes after that. It really felt similar to the Lions game, except they completed the comeback this time. It bears repeating - when you have a chance to step on the throat...
- And speaking of step on the throat, numerically the Bears dominated this game until the fourth quarter and even on the stat sheet mostly dominated. TOP, total yardage, first downs, third down conversion rate (7/17, not great, but not world-ending terrible), and even winning the turnover battle (!!) were all in the Bears’ favor. The main problem on the stat sheet was penalties, of which the Bears had 10, most of which were terribly ill-timed as usual. But in this one, most of the Bears’ ability to shoot themselves in the foot came in the plays they didn’t - or couldn’t or wouldn’t - make.
That’s really all I have for this one. In the battle between two bad teams, the Bears out-badded the other team, didn’t take control when they could, and the Jaguars hung around long enough to make the Bears pay for it.
What did you notice from yesterday’s game?