Keys to the Game
The Play-Action Passing Game: Given that there were only 16 passing attempts the entire game, I am going to say that this was a complete and utter failure. There were opportunities but the offense was unable to capitalize. Baltimore’s defense was stacking the box and over-pursuing. They were selling out against the bootleg action and disrupted the few that were called. I put this failure solely on the shoulders of Dowell Loggains. Sure, the game plan ended up winning the game, but this should have been a convincing win, not an overtime squeak-by victory.
Generating Turnovers: FINALLY!!! The Bears took the ball away 3 times, which is a modern day miracle for this team. This seemed like the prime opportunity to come away with an interception or two, and that is just what happened. Christian Jones had another nice game and forced the fumble. The secondary as a whole played aggressive and with a confidence that we have not seen here in some time. This was a dominant performance by a unit that many believed to be the weak spot on the team. Through six weeks, I would beg to differ. If Kyle Fuller and Adrian Amos continue to play with this much confidence, this defense will be a top-10 unit at season’s end.
The X-Factor: I thought that Tre McBride and Tanner Gentry would need to step up in this game. Boy was I wrong. Neither player had a catch. I overestimated the coaching staff’s ability to competently run this team. Sixty (60!!!) called running plays in this game is unacceptable. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined to be stopped for no gain or a loss on 14 of those carries. This was the prime opportunity to take some deep shots off play-action. There were a lot of failed opportunities here on Loggains’ part.
3 Bears Up 4 Bears Up!
Jordan Howard: The behemoth-back bruised, battered and otherwise abused the Ravens defense. 167 yards on 36 carries is quite the load for a running back. Howard, as has been the case in his short career, seems to get stronger as the game wears on. Despite his size, the more carries he gets, the fresher he looks. I haven’t had a chance to look at the film, but I would bet that he lost roughly 20 yards on those negative plays because the play-calling was so predictable. What would his numbers look like without those carries?
Kyle Fuller: Fuller has sneakily been the perhaps the most consistent player on the Bears defense through 5 weeks. His performance yesterday was anything but quiet. It wasn’t enough that he tipped a pass to Adrian Amos — for Amos’ first career interception — or had 3 passes defended (ESPN might be short-changing him a bit here) or having a 3-play sequence in the red zone where he shut down the Ravens attack, but he was physical against the run as well. He played an all-around fantastic game. He brought the lumber, he covered his man, tipped passes away and directly caused a turnover. This was the best game by a Bears cornerback since Fuller’s rookie season versus the 49ers.
Adrian Amos: There might not be a more polarizing player on the Bears defense than Amos. After a solid rookie season, the safety came under fire for seemingly taking a big step back in year 2. The off-season signing of Quintin Demps relegated Amos to a backup role, which is something that has seemed to motive him. Since being inserted into the starting lineup — at his natural strong safety position — Amos has been a much better player. To this point, he has been known more for blowing up unsuspecting backs and receivers. His last two games have seen him affect the game in different ways, and that is not a bad thing. Leave it to Amos to get a pick-6 on his first career interception.
Akiem Hicks: Since his signing, Akiem Hicks has been not only the best player on defense, but the most consistent. He demands double teams and beats them on a regular basis. Another sack, tackle for loss and quarterback hit against the Ravens quick passing attack. What Hicks does best doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet though. He consistently pushes the middle of the pocket and affects opposing quarterback’s accuracy. So far, Hicks has earned every penny of his new contract.
3 Bears Down
Kyle Long: Since returning to the lineup from his off-season ankle surgery, Long has not been the same player. The running game is light-years better on the left side — where Sitton lines up — and Long has been giving up ample pressure. In addition, he gave up at least 1 of the 4 sacks of Trubisky. If his ankle is not right, and Cody Whithair continues to botch shotgun snaps, is it fair to think that the best lineup might have Grasu at center and Long on the bench?
Jeff Rodgers: I know that Rodgers is not a player but come on man, 2 returns for a touchdown? I am willing to give a partial pass on the kick return because of the oddity of it, but the punt return was inexcusable. At that point in the game, you have to have O’Donnell kick that ball out of bounds. A shank was better than giving up a return there. Also, you had Sherrick McManis hurt and Cre’Von LeBlanc as your gunner. The Ravens came on a block and LeBlanc got caught up in the wash due to his inexperience.
Dowell Loggains: Another non-player? Well, the players played pretty well, the coaching staff on the other hand...not so much. Seriously, who calls 60 running plays? I think I counted one pass on first down while watching live. That is unacceptable. The play calls were predictable and painfully obvious. If I can call the plays from my couch based on personnel, formation and situation, do you seriously think the Ravens can’t? Forget for a moment that the Bears won, they won because of several outstanding individual performances against an inferior opponent. I think we can all agree that this is a developmental season for many players. How does handing the ball off 60 times make Mitchell Trubisky a better quarterback? Hint, it doesn’t. If that’s the game plan, then you should have made the switch to Mark Sanchez, not Trubisky.
What are your thoughts on who played well and who didn’t?
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