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Bears vs. Lions: Notes from a frustrating loss

Yet another should-be win for the Monsters of the Midway.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Adam Shaheen played a big role in the Bears’ offense on Sunday.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s ready for draft season?

The Chicago Bears fell to 3-7 with their 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. A lot of things went wrong, but in the end it was a wide-right kick by Connor Barth that put the nail in the coffin. Here are a few of my notes and takeaways from this game.

  • The Bears started off their opening drive running the ball twice and throwing an incomplete pass for a three and out throwing the ball three times in a row. I’m just as shocked as you guys are, personally. It’s good to see that Dowell Loggains at least has some acknowledgement that NFL defenses know he runs the ball a lot on first and second down.
  • More Mitch Trubisky roll outs on slants to Dontrelle Inman, please.
  • Chicago’s opening drive was the best opening drive from a play calling perspective they’ve had all year. Outside of the miscommunication on their third-and-goal play, there was a lot to be impressed about on the drive. They had a well-balanced attack going, throwing the ball six times and running the ball six times. Loggains allowed Trubisky to throw the ball down field a bit and throw in situations that aren’t third and long plays. The Bears scored on their opening drive for the first time all season, which is a bit depressing, but hey, better late than never, right?
  • Eddie Jackson laid the hammer down on Eric Ebron on Detroit’s second-down passing play. The Lions were on the Bears’ side of the field, and Ebron had a lot of room ahead of him if he hadn’t been tackled. Jackson’s tackle saved the Bears from letting the Lions get in scoring position, which might have prevented this play from happening...
  • Nick Kwiatkoski forced a fumble on a strip sack which was recovered by Akiem Hicks. The second-year linebacker overpowered the offensive lineman and bull rushed his way to Matthew Stafford. He had a sack last week against the Green Bay Packers, too. If he can keep this up, then he can give opposing offensive linemen something to worry about on blitzes.
  • Even when Dion Sims comes back from his illness, Adam Shaheen deserves to keep his spot in the starting lineup. He had the best game of his career on Sunday, and he gave Chicago a big-bodied target who could move the ball down the field and score in the red zone. He caught four passes for 41 yards and this impressive goal-line touchdown.
  • This was probably the best first quarter we’ve seen all year for the Bears. Their offense ran smoothly, and both the run game and the passing attack were efficient. The defense looked pretty solid for the most part, too.
  • Trubisky has to be able to take those snaps under center. He hadn’t had any issues with it before Sunday’s game, but that was just a stupid fumble that shouldn’t have happened. Those are the type of mistakes that cause a massive turn of the tides in momentum.
  • Jordan Howard broke out for two big runs in the first half, totaling 88 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in just the first two quarters. Here was one of them, where he split the gap and just caught fire in the open field.
  • For a while, the second half wasn’t nearly as productive. He only had two yards on four carries before his 16-yard run in the fourth quarter. He bounced back, though, and finished with 15 carries, 125 yards and this touchdown.
  • Does anyone know why Marcus Cooper got as much playing time as he did? He got absolutely burned on a handful of occasions, most notably on Marvin Jones Jr.’s touchdown. As I pointed out on Twitter, the Bears would save quite a bit of money if they were to let him go this offseason.
  • Chicago’s defense failed to show up in the second quarter. Their defensive backs were beat consistently in coverage, and they generated very little pressure up front. Their offense was decent in quarter No. 2, but it’s tough for any offense to hold a lead when their defensive teammates aren’t getting the job done.
  • I wanted the Bears to go after Jim Bob Cooter at the end of the season as a possible head coaching candidate. If they were to hire him, then it would greatly benefit their passing game. Cooter does a great job of scheming up ways for his receivers to get open, and he has helped Stafford become a better quarterback. The running game, though, is pretty much nonexistent. Sure, neither Theo Riddick nor Ameer Abdullah are up to par with Jordan Howard, but their lack of production is troubling, and Cooter is partially to blame for that. I’m not as high on him as I was in the beginning of the year, but he’s still a candidate to watch out for.
  • The Bears’ defense did their job in the first drive of the second half, but this time it was their offense who failed to show up. Despite starting their first possession of the third quarter at midfield, they were forced to punt after a three-and-out. You’ve got to take advantage of that good field position if you want to win games.
  • Prince Amukamara got called for pass interference, which gave the Lions the ball in Chicago’s territory. Those PI calls are deadly, especially when they’re called on deep passes. It’s simply unacceptable.
  • Somehow, the Bears managed to get a sack while only rushing three players. They had five lined up, but they called a stunt and only had three rush. One of those three players, Mitch Unrein, was able to bring Stafford down. He now has 2.5 sacks on the season.
  • Something that a lot of people won’t recognize: on Pat O’Donnell’s punt with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Sherrick McManis was double teamed and still managed to tackle Detroit punt returner Jamal Agnew. He was also the first man down the field to pounce on Agnew when he bobbled the ball one return later. McManis returned this week after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 6, and the Bears have missed having him on special teams.
  • Cre’Von LeBlanc dropped a would-be interception in the third quarter. Although he still deflected the pass and caused an incompletion, it would’ve been great if he could force a turnover, especially considering the Bears would’ve gotten the ball on Detroit’s side of the field.
  • It’s never a good thing to see players go down with an injury. It’s even worse when two players go down on the same play. Leonard Floyd left the game with an apparent leg injury that required him to be carted off the field, and Kyle Fuller injured his hand. Especially considering that they’re two of the best players on Chicago’s defense, it’s terrible to see them both get hurt.
  • Christian Jones penetrated the B gap on a blitz with very little in the way of opposition from Detroit’s offensive line and brought Stafford down for a sack. That sack was particularly big because the Lions were inside the Bears’ 10-yard line, and Jones’ sack brought them back seven yards. Had he not sacked Stafford, then the Lions may have ended up with another touchdown instead of just a field goal.
  • The Bears got bailed out by a stupid mistake on Detroit’s part. Dontrelle Inman caught a 17-yard pass, but 15 yards were added due to a roughing the passer penalty. That set them up perfectly in scoring position.
  • What a touchdown run by Tarik Cohen. Detroit failed to keep contain on the play, leaving Cohen with daylight ahead of him on the pitch. He made an acrobatic leap into the end zone and tied the game at 24 apiece in the fourth quarter.
  • The rookie has been mostly nonexistent in Chicago’s game plan in recent weeks, but he bounced back in a major way on Sunday. His 13 touches are the most he has had since he had 15 in Week 6. He ended the game with 58 yards offensively.
  • Cre’Von LeBlanc slipped in coverage, allowing Eric Ebron to catch a deep ball uncontested. His gaffe put the Lions in scoring position with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. That’s one of those plays that just makes you cringe as a football fan.
  • Cohen is a fantastic athlete, but he really needs to get smarter on kick returns. He needs to learn when he should take a knee instead of trying to return the kick. His lack of sharp decision making in that regard has cost the Bears field position multiple times this season.
  • Mitch Trubisky kept the Bears’ hopes alive with a phenomenal 19-yard scramble in a fourth-and-long situation. I grimaced when I saw him leaving the pocket and starting to run, but he just kept on running.
  • He ended up with 53 rushing yards on six carries for the day. Having an athletic quarterback can do wonders for your offense.
  • Connor Barth...if I could swear in these notes, I would drop several f-bombs. His 46-yard field goal try to tie up the game wasn’t even close. The bye week was the perfect opportunity for the Bears to cut him loose and sign a competent kicker. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t options out on the open market.
  • Ultimately, poor coverage and injuries doomed the Bears this week, but this was a game they could’ve and should’ve won. The offense was solid, led by a fantastic ground game, and they set up Barth in a position where even a competent kicker could have kicked the ball in between the goal posts. Alas, he couldn’t.
  • Five of the Bears’ seven losses have come by eight points or less. They have had way too many “should-be” wins that were made losses due to one or two bad plays. With better coaching, a few of those losses would become wins. With more talent, Chicago would be as good as 8-2.
  • Three offseason needs were made clear today: edge rusher, cornerback and kicker. With Floyd out, the Bears are stuck with Pernell McPhee, Sam Acho and Isaiah Irving as the only healthy edge rushers on the roster. They should aim to add a rookie in the first two rounds of the draft. They should target a cornerback in free agency, though. Considering that the Bears will have a good chance to compete next year, they need a proven talent at cornerback to patch up that hole in their secondary. Marcus Cooper isn’t going to cut it outside and Prince Amukamara is inconsistent. Even Kyle Fuller gets destroyed on occasion. And as for a kicker, that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.