I think, in the headline above, "Down" is the operative word. After about the early portion of the second quarter, that was where everything went - players, coaching decisions, and the direction fans' optimism and hope for the season went in the drain.
This game was one of those that gave you a little pop of optimism before brutally crushing it like an egg under Jim Schwartz's heel. I mean, when the first series of the game goes for -10 yards, Carson Wentz's first series on the road results in a field goal, and uber-accurate-from-within-40 Connor Barth misses one on the outside edge of the goalpost from 31, you get the feeling of fighting uphill. Then Jay Cutler finds Eddie Royal for 8 yards, Paul Lasike converts a first down on a short carry, then Cutler launches one deep to Alshon Jeffery for 49 yards to bring the ball to the 5 yard line. Jeremy Langford completed the touchdown drive on a one-yard carry and the Bears were up 7-3. After forcing a three and out and a ten yard loss on the drive, the Bears had a chance to put the pressure on early with another score, but only netted eight yards on a three-and out.
The next Eagles drive later, Carson Wentz led a long 77-yard drive for a field goal, as the Bears held up in the red zone again. Another three and out by the Bears gave the Eagles the ball to end the half, and after converting a field goal, the Eagles had their first and only lead of the night - the only lead they ended up needing.
Coming out of the half, the Bears forced another three and out of the Eagles, but the Bears gave the ball right back on a sack/forced fumble on Cutler. On the play, Cutler's hand was driven into the turf. He would later leave the game with an injury to that throwing hand, but he stayed in for a couple of drives, and from that point on his throws seemed far more off target. After an Eagles' three and out again, the Bears ran seven straight running plays, mixing in an end around with Kevin White and a couple carries for Jordan Howard, but after a Cutler incompletion to Miller, the Eagles took over. It was at this point that the Eagles started to really take control of the game.
The Eagles scored a touchdown on their next three drives - the first, an eight play, 68 yard drive that systematically ground out the rest of the third quarter en route to a Ryan Mathews touchdown. The next play was a throw in the direction of Alshon Jeffery - I say "in the direction of" because Jeffery broke inside a bit but the throw was intercepted by a leaping Nigel Bradham. This is one of the key throws that indicated something might be up with Cutler's throwing hand. Carson Wentz's throw found Trey Burton for a touchdown to push Philadelphia's lead to 22-7.
It wasn't over yet. Brian Hoyer entered the game and, on first and ten from the Bears' 47, Jeremy Langford fumbled. When the Eagles took over, it took them two plays to push the ball to the Bears' 2 yard line. On fourth and goal at the 2, the Bears held up, but Eddie Goldman left with what would later be revealed as an ankle injury and Akiem Hicks was flagged late for a neutral zone infraction. Predictably, the next play was a Ryan Mathews run for the score and the Bears were down 29-7.
Brian Hoyer took the reins with one last chance to make something about this game not suck, and against the Eagles' prevent not-actually-but-kinda-sorta-playing defense, marched the Bears into the red zone, but couldn't get the ball into Alshon Jeffery's hands in the end zone and the Bears turned it over on downs.
But the Bears weren't done scoring. I bet the four of you who voted in this poll are kicking yourselves this morning:
The Bears next score will come from: (mid-Q2)— Steven (@SJS_illini) September 20, 2016
Yeah, Eddie Royal took the Eagles' ensuing fourth-and-seventeen punt to the house. Too little too late, however, as the Eagles recovered the onside kick and salted away the remaining 5:09 to send Carson Wentz to a list of rookie quarterbacks to start and win their first two games - a list that includes Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, and Ryan Leaf.
If you want to look at two things that really dictated the game, start with time of possession and pressures/QB hits. The Eagles held the ball offensively for 18 extra plays (68 to 50) and for an additional 12:10 over the Bears, which for a team that just hasn't gotten anything going offensively through eight quarters of the season, is incredibly difficult to overcome. In hand with the lopsided possessions, there's also the 3 sacks and 6 quarterback hits the Eagles picked up and holding the Bears' run game to just 3.6 yards per carry, including a 2.5 YPC for Jeremy Langford (28 yards, 11 carries). Another night of just 18 carries for the running backs and a rough, rough game for the offensive line.
Let's hit some bullets.
- Dowell Loggains should probably be rethinking some of how he gameplans, because establishing the run just isn't working right now, especially with Jeremy Langford just not getting anything going on most of his runs. Jordan Howard looked pretty good in the couple of snaps he got (late in the game against a squad defending against a passing game that only existed in spurts) but the Eagles were all over the Bears' protection and blocking schemes. The Bears didn't even get their touchdown in the first quarter until they got an Eddie Royal screen pass moving, then opened up Alshon Jeffery downfield on a double move. Jeffery is clearly the best offensive skill player the Bears have, but until somebody steps up as a number two option consistently, whether it be Royal or Zach Miller or Kevin White, the offense will likely continue to resemble number two.
- The defensive back spots are an interesting conversation, because Jacoby Glenn has done very little truly wrong in his two game stint as a prime starting defensive back, and Deiondre Hall will probably eventually rip that second starting spot away from Tracy Porter because of those ball skills he has. Glenn in particular got beat deep, but rallied back to knock the ball out of Jordan Matthews' hands.
- Let's hit the defense, because even though they gave up 100 yards rushing again, again it was on 32 carries for a 3.1 YPC, which aren't exactly great offensive numbers. Honestly, the defense did their job and then some on the day despite what the final score says. Wentz put up a 190 yard, 1 TD, 86.6 passer rating type of day, which is good, but not world beating. Two sacks, another 3 quarterback hits (Akiem Hicks and Jerrell Freeman were everywhere last night), and handicapped by three turnovers that gave the Eagles some pretty solid field position, then compounded by running another 18 plays over the opposition? It could have been a lot worse for the Bears' defense. This is the kind of game that shows the offense playing defense - as in, the Bears' offense didn't, at all.
- Also, let's just mention for the record that Sherrick McManis and Chris Prosinski both saw significant time last night and the Bears' defensive world still spun on its axis. Though Bryce Callahan and Harold Jones-Quartey both looked solid before leaving with injuries.
- Things that may not be spinning on any axis - the Bears' starting offense if Jay Cutler misses any additional time with a hand injury. I fear Brian Hoyer may have us pining for Henry Burris.
- It's nice to see the Bears still have "committing a timing penalty immediately after a timeout" mastered.
That's all I've got for this one. There really wasn't much interesting to pull out of this one. Defensively, the Bears played well enough to win. Offensively, the Bears' performance was worse than the University of Illinois on Saturday. The Bears had one bad offensive sequence of short, immediate giveaways, and the Eagles took control with three touchdowns on three drives on a couple of short fields, then ground out the clock against a beaten, battered squad that was ready to go home. What are your thoughts on last night's game?