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Bears vs. Saints: Notes from a depressing loss

A lot of things went right for the Bears, but too many things went wrong.

NFL: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
Jordan Howard played a big role in Chicago’s offense this week.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears had a lot of chances to beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. They just couldn’t get the job done.

Bad play calling, bad decision making and bad referee calls were constant throughout the game. Here are a few of my notes from Chicago’s 20-12 loss.

  • When you think of the best way to make an impact on defense right off the bat, giving up a 54-yard pass certainly doesn’t come to mind. The Bears seemed to have stopped the Saints in the red zone, but a penalty on Kyle Fuller gave New Orleans another opportunity to score. Alvin Kamara scored his second touchdown of the year on an eight-yard run on the very first play after the penalty. It definitely wasn’t an ideal opening drive for Chicago’s defense.
  • The Bears ran six plays in their opening drive, and Jordan Howard was given the ball on four of them. This was a foreshadowing of things to come for their offense. As has been the case since Mitch Trubisky became the starting quarterback, they ran a run-heavy offense. Howard ended up with 102 yards on 23 carries. This puts his season total at 662 rushing yards. It is also has third game of the year with 100 or more rushing yards.
  • New Orleans ran a handful of screens to start the game off. Given how good the Bears’ front seven is, this was a smart decision. They had relative success running screens, too, as Mark Ingram broke free for a 16-yard gain on one of them.
  • It will be an absolute tragedy if Akiem Hicks doesn’t at least get voted into the Pro Bowl. In his "Revenge Game", he ended up with two tackles and a sack. He constantly overwhelmed the Saints’ guards, as expected. Without Larry Warford in the lineup, the matchup just looked completely lopsided on paper.
  • The Bears completed a deep pass. What?!? Trubisky threw an absolute dime to Tre McBride, which ended up in a gain of 45 yards.
  • The rookie seemingly had all day to get off the throw, and he took advantage of it. Although the Bears likely won’t run a lot of plays that will allow him to show off his arm, it’s encouraging to see that he has the strength to make big plays happen.
  • Dowell Loggains needs to be less predictable with his play calling. Apart from a few trick plays, he hasn’t thought outside of the box much this season. This was apparent in the Bears’ second drive of the game. They had the ball on first down at the six-yard line. So what do they do? They run two running plays. As one could imagine, the Saints expected that, and both runs went nowhere. An incomplete pass brought out the field goal unit. Although putting up three points on the board is fine, the Bears could have easily scored a touchdown on that drive.
  • After a slow start to the year, Leonard Floyd has been very productive in recent weeks. Using The Force, he picked up his fifth sack in the past five games on Sunday.
  • His development, not only as a pass rusher, but as an all-around defender, has been apparent this season.
  • Anyone who has been a regular reader of these notes this season knows that I have been an avid supporter of finding a new kicker. Connor Barth proved me right yet again. With an opportunity late in the first half to cut the Saints’ lead down to just eight, he kicked a 48-yarder wide left.
  • Tre McBride played a big role in Chicago’s offense this week. He ended up with three receptions for 92 yards, all three of them coming on deep passes. His catches gained 45, 25 and 22 yards, respectively. If he can continue to prove himself as a deep threat, then he may have a role as a depth receiver in future seasons.
  • The Bears really need to stop running the ball on nearly every first and second down. It’s way too predictable, and defenses are picking up on it. It also puts more pressure on Trubisky to succeed in third-and-long situations.
  • Trubisky threw a beautiful pass to Zach Miller in the end zone in the third quarter. It appeared that Miller came down with the ball, but the touchdown call was surprisingly reversed. However, his brutal leg injury overshadowed the result of the play (warning: watch at your own risk).
  • He is arguably the best receiving option on a team that lacks a whole lot of talent in that area. With him likely out for the year, their thin group of weapons gets even weaker.
  • The Bears got a lucky break when Jonathan Bullard forced Mark Ingram to fumble in the fourth quarter. They were unable to capitalize on it, but it’s good to see the defense causing turnovers.
  • Isn’t it great to have an actually athletic quarterback? Trubisky ran for a decent, 11-yard run in the fourth quarter, but the play was called back due to offsetting penalties. No big deal. He picked up 46 yards on the very next play.
  • Drew Brees connected with Ted Ginn Jr. on a 53-yard pass late in the fourth quarter. Why the Saints decided to throw the ball deep when they were up by five late in the fourth quarter is beyond me, but it worked. That play seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the Bears, but Adrian Amos stripped the ball from Mark Ingram’s hands for the running back’s second fumble of the game. That set the team up for a potential game-winning drive.
  • The Bears had two two-minute drill drives, and both of them failed. The first drive failed simply due to good defense on the Saints’ part, and the second drive ended with a Trubisky interception. An unfortunate end to a very winnable game.
  • From a health standpoint, this is a game the Bears would rather forget. In addition to Zach Miller’s gruesome dislocated knee, they also lost Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long to injury. Although the latter two injuries aren’t nearly as serious as Miller’s, it was serious enough to sideline both of the offensive linemen for the game.
  • Danny Trevathan made a big impact again this week, racking up a total of 13 tackles. He was initially thought of as the biggest signing of the 2016 offseason, and while Akiem Hicks and Jerrell Freeman have more than outplayed the contracts they signed that year, Trevathan is living up to the hype.
  • This game realistically could’ve been a 19-13 Bears victory. A combination of an unfortunate penalty, poor kicking and a bad call by the referees all came back to bite the Bears in the long run.