- Yeah, we're going to go right into the bullets with this one, because if I were going to start with a recap of all the things this team bumbled, stumbled, and fell onto their faces in a pit, I'm pretty sure everybody would be clicking that "x" in the window corner or hitting the back button on their mobile or tablet or whatever method gets you off this page fastest. I feel like I wish I knew what John Fox was ordering his team to do out on the field in that above picture. I don't think it had anything to do with playing a competitive game. I mean, we're talking about a game where Jordan Howard goes off like a madman early on, then Cutler has... just an inexplicably bad first half of play and for some reason Howard disappears.
- Dowell Loggains was apparently intent on undoing whatever goodwill his gameplan against the Vikings created. On third and 2 and Howard rushing like a bull, he goes empty set (the first Cutler interception). The very next offensive play, he goes for the rollout and screen to the back side which, with even the slightest bit of pressure, is going to be floated enough for even Chris Conte to drive on and snatch from a retreating tight end for a pick six. Then when he gets pressured and has to try to move outside to make a play, he gets stripped on the way to the ground. 1st and goal from the 7 and Howard at the time averaging 6.5 YPC, and three straight passes. 2nd and 20 and the next three playcalls are screen (nullified by penalty), screen and screen.
- Returning again to the question of "Where the hell did Jordan Howard vanish to?", Howard had 9 carries in the first quarter, ripping off 15 yards with regularity; he only picked up six more carries over the day, finished with 100 yards total... and Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey combined for 9 touches including five receptions. Maybe it was a matter of getting backs that were better in pass protection or better receiving backs into the rotation, but Howard was also the team's best weapon on the day. One of those weird things to balance, but coupled with Cutler's bad day, the production from the pair wasn't exactly enough to offset Howard's absence. I don't think it had anything to do with his fumble, honestly, since his production aside was really strong.
- That's not to take anything away from what was a terrible performance by the Bears' signal caller. He looked remarkably off target on a number of throws, including a normally reliable jump ball to Alshon Jeffery in the end zone over a 5'10" defensive back. Cameron Meredith saved the end of the first half with a really nice deflection catch on a Hail Mary to close out the half, and that was one of the final positive plays the Bears would have on offense.
- So, once again, it seemed like every time the Bears had a chance to do a single thing positive, they would do something to shoot themselves in the foot. Whether it was one of their 9 penalties (including 2 by Alshon Jeffery to eliminate first down conversions, an interception eliminated by a penalty, or a 3rd and Goal continued on an HJQ defensive pass interference penalty) or otherwise their misfires on third down (2 of 11 on the day, versus their 7 conversions from the week before) or Eddie Royal attempting to field a punt then running back into his own end zone, it felt like every single Bear did their best to commit some kind of error to help bring the team to their 7th loss.
- That includes the Bears' pass rush on 3rd and long on the first drive of the second half. The pass rush had done what they had to all game in getting to Jameis Winston, but on this play, smarter play would have snuffed this drive out deep in Tampa territory. On 3rd and 10 at the 23, Leonard Floyd flushed Winston from the pocket straight back towards his end zone. Willie Young followed in pursuit, and he and Floyd chased Winston into the end zone. The problem is, both pushed from the same side, the right, and Winston was able to escape to his right (the left side away from the rush), pick up a block, and launch to Mike Evans. Instead of 4th and 30, or even a safety, the Bucs picked up a long first down - a play that could have been avoided had one of the duo, probably Young, stayed over to the left a bit to cover the cutback lane. Floyd made the play early, but once it extended, eliminate the cutback/escape and force him to throw it away or take a deep sack. Of course, the next play was a long touchdown catch as Cre'Von LeBlanc got flammbe'd (that probably isn't the right spelling, or the right word, but I'm trying to avoid saying he got LeBurnt).
- Speaking of Floyd, he had a third consecutive solid game with a sack and a half, but needs to slow himself to pick up the more sure sack instead of running full speed past his sack target. He could have had another sack at least, maybe two, if his target hadn't slipped Floyd's arm tackle.
- And speaking of safeties, Harold Jones-Quartey picked up an interception, and Adrian Amos was close to his first career interception but it was nullified by an illegal contact penalty on Jarrell Freeman. Oh, yeah, remember that "shooting yourselves in the foot" thing?
- Let's talk about the safety that actually was called, on Cutler when he was sacked and shoved the ball away. It was bad awareness and he really should have been able to get rid of it sooner; that being said, when the ball got shoved out, another Bears player shoved the ball back into and through the end zone for the safety (I didn't see which player it was, though I believe it was a running back on the emergency release).
A few paragraphs on things going forward: If this game accomplished anything, it was a massive self-inflicted "Fatality" on any hopes that the Bears can be a surprise playoff team in the second half. The Vikings and the Packers both lost, but the Bears looked like they might've just descended to 34th in the NFL Power Rankings. There's no question that getting the higher draft pick is more beneficial, but keep in mind that the players, who have no guarantee that they'll even be around to benefit from it or that could actually lose their jobs to these draft picks, would never go along with that kind of thing. So, we'll see how much closer to dumpster fire status this can get as the Bears get closer to facing San Francisco in three weeks.
Of course, that "no guarantees" thing extends to Pace, Fox, Loggains, and Cutler as well. Cutler's time in Chicago does have a chance to be over after this season, but Fox and Loggains are both running out of time to show they belong in Chicago for another season. The Bears have won a grand total of 7 games under John Fox which just will not get it done going forward. The offense especially has not done enough going forward. A team should not have only topped 20 points twice through game 9 and should also not be giving up an extra 15 minutes of possession per game. Especially in the first game after the bye week, it's inexcusable for this to be the performance the team gives.
Sure, I get it, the team's been beat up and injured and doesn't have much offensive continuity, but that's hardly an excuse for screwing up offensive gameplans from week to week (and I don't count massive amounts of yardage as being effective gameplanning - I prefer points and execution, neither of which have happened with any sort of continuity). I don't know how much difference another quarterback makes, but when the Bears do have their new signal caller, unless something drastically changes over the next couple weeks consistently, that new quarterback probably needs a new coordinator in his ear. The defense has performed as well as it could be expected to over the last few weeks, but getting no favors from the offenses causes it to eventually crack. 14 more plays and that's with two less drives (one of which from the interception return for a touchdown) and 37 minutes of clock melted away means the offense should really be doing a better job of keeping the other offense off the field. There are a lot of offensive changes probably coming this offseason.
All right, I think that's about everything we can get out of this game. We'll see you next week. What did you notice from yesterday's game?