Closing the Game
In back-to-back weeks the Bears have been unable to close out games.
Whether in overtime or regulation, the Bears failed to either come up with a stop or put points on the board when the time calls. In both loses, one could argue either point is what gave up the game winning field goal.
Here’s what I think.
It’s tough to blame the offense for not scoring when it counts.
Minus the dropped pass by Jeremy Langford that might have changed the outcome of the game, we’ve watched the Bears offense walk down the field in the final minutes of multiple games this season.
That dropped pass shows how much the Bears rely on Forte. If Forte is running that route he more than likely is going to catch that pass.
On the flip side, against Detroit in overtime it almost looked the Bears were playing for the tie. They were content with running the ball and not taking any chances vertically after they scored on the vertical threat in regulation. Depending on which side of the ball you find the weakest, the debate can swing both ways for the offense.
The good news is that Forte’s injury is not season-ending, it is not an ACL injury, and it will not require surgery.
He walked off the field under his own power, which is a good sign. If I were to guess, he will miss next week against San Diego at the very most, as Forte has been durable by only missing 5 games throughout his career.
The defense gave up just as many points in the last 1:49 than they did the whole game against Minnesota.
Going into those final two minutes I felt pretty confident about the defense.
Teddy Bridgewater was not playing his best game and the Bears had only given up 10 points the first 58 minutes.
Why did the Bears defense break in the last two minutes?
There’s been a lack of pass rushing all season long. Without a pass the rush the quarterback is not worried about getting hit. Therefore, the opposing quarterback slows himself down and finds the open man. Come late in ball games, the opposing quarterbacks have waited in the pocket, rolled to their strong side and bombed a 50/50 ball down field for their receivers to make the play (which they have).
Against Minnesota, Antrel Rolle should have made the veteran play and stepped up to the ball and at least tipped it instead of waiting for the pass to fall in his lap, as he had the whole play in front of him. Rolle knew that Charles Johnson was his guy after the corner dropped into his coverage. I understand that Johnson essentially came out of nowhere, but Rolle had to of known where he was on the field.
That’s an inexcusable play on his part given his experience.
I’ve done my best to avoid talking about Cutler this season. He gets a lot of criticism from fans and media. I’m not a big fan of Jay, but when he plays well I have no problem giving him the praise he deserves. In previous weeks I’ve said that you have to be patient with Jay because he will turn the ball over at least once.
This week I’m happy to report that Jay Cutler was turnover-free!
His stat line isn’t that great. He was 22/33 for 208 yards, and an impressive touchdown pass. Add all that up and you get a quarterback rating of 94.4 for the game. He also had 2 rushes for 11 yards and a touchdown run.
His stat line could have been a little better if the offense was more vertically focused in the first half. I’m not sure what the purpose of the plethora of screen passes was for to start the game. I’m not sure if it was to get the offensive line settled since there was some shuffling due to Grasu being out with a shoulder injury, or that was the solidified game plan going in.
Whatever the purpose, it hurt the team more than it helped.
My only guess is that this was John Fox’s plan to eat up some clock. The problem is, with no forward progress this game plan becomes ineffective.
With weapons like Alshon and Martellus Bennett, I know I would want to be more vertically focused. The Bears offense, and Jay Cutler, looked much more fluid when they stretched the field vertically and play out of the spread offense. Once they got away from the screen game the offense looked much more natural.
That is what the Bears need to stick to going forward.
Coming full circle on Jay Cutler, he is a solid piece to keeping the Chicago Bears in ball games. It is clear that Jay wants to win games, and it’s apparent he does not feel like this year is a rebuilding year (like myself). Jay knows that he has the pieces on the offense to make a difference, and he his doing his best to make the most of his chances.
I’m definitely not going to bash the effort because these are close games we’ve seen the last couple weeks.
As long as the Bears keep putting in effort, good things will come.
A Look Ahead
The Bears play San Diego on Monday Night Football. I’m excited to see the revival of the Jay Cutler and Phillip Rivers saga. For those that don’t know, Jay and Phillip have a history of not liking each other starting back when Jay was in Denver.
Maybe what the Bears team needs is a scuffle to put a little more fire in their game. Maybe Jay gets so ticked off at Phillip they start yelling at each other from across the field…again. I want to see something of the sorts happen. I think that will create extra motivation for a Bears team that continues to fall just short.
I have a hard time predicting whether or not Matt Forte will play or not. We are all unsure of the extent of the injury, so for now I’m going to guess he does not play. We’re also not sure about Eddie Royal’s knee injury, but I believe he has a good chance of getting back out on the field.
I think in an offensively focused game, the final score will be 28-24 Chicago getting the narrow edge.