Quick Game Comments – Bears at Lions 9/23/13
1. The Bears came out just a little flat on both sides of the ball. Generally speaking the defense in particular wasn’t playing fast and certainly wasn’t playing down hill.
2. The Bears seemed to prefer the cover two on first down, laving the run open for Reggie Bush. The Lions took advantage and Bush gashed the Bears with the run throughout the game. Bush also hurt the Bears as a receiver and they moved him around well. Other than the turnovers, the failure to stop Bush was pretty much the story of the game.
3. Matthew Stafford came out very inaccurate, missing several open receivers. He didn’t really have a very good game. But it was good enough.
4. The Lions offensive line totally handled the Bears. No one could get off of blocks. The Bears aren’t going to stop anyone with no pressure on the quarterback.
5. This was a really bad game for Lance Briggs. He looked like he was having a tough time with Lions tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. I got the impression that this might be partly because he was wary of the damage Bush was doing with the run. It didn’t matter. They still managed to block him out of the play on the Reggie Bush touchdown in the second quarter.
6. I hate the way Lions center Dominic Raiola moves around once he goes down on the ball. I guess it’s just subtle enough not to be called but its enough to be bothersome.
7. It was nice to see Alshon Jeffery beat some single coverage today. He’s showing his potential and Cutler is looking for him more and more often opposite Marshall.
1. The Lions came out playing single coverage underneath with two high safeties on first down. This should have opened up the run but the Bears couldn’t take advantage as the Lions severely limited Matt Forte’s production throughout the first quarter.
2. The Bears had a tough time against the Lions single coverage underneath early as well. Receivers had a tough time shaking the much maligned Lions defensive backs. Other than Brandon Marshall this is a problem the Bears have had dating back for some years.
3. The combination one and two led to some serious trouble on third down as they were frequently left with a lot of yardage to make up.
4. The Bears offensive line had a tough time against the Lions defensive front and they had their hands full with a very powerful group who managed to push up the middle and get into Jay Cutler’s face. It looked like they were intent on keeping a disciplined pass rush which kept Cutler in the pocket. Its safe to say that Cutler hates that. He wasn’t able to escape the pocket with any regularity until the third quarter when the Lions know he had to pass and went with the all out rush.
5. Cutler was sacked twice in the first half, once when Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh flat out overpowered Bears guard Kyle Long. Long really had a tough time with Suh all game. The pressure along with the good coverage by the Lions defensive backs probably contributed as much as anything to Cutler’s poor day.
6. As outlined above the Lions had a good game plan to attack the Bears weaknesses. The Bears responded in the second quarter by attacking the edges on the ground, away from the strength of the Lions defense up the middle. Alshon Jeffery had a long run to the left on an end around. This was followed by a long run by Matt Forte to the right for a touchdown. This was a wonderful adjustment by Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer. I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t stick with it.
7. The whole league knows that Jay Cutler is going to go to Brandon Marshall at the slightest hint that he might be in single coverage. This led directly to an interception by Glover Quinn in the second quarter as he broke towards Marshall as the single high safety almost right after the snap knowing full well that’s where Cutler was going. Cutler never looked at anyone else. To make it worse, he repeated the mistake in the third quarter for another near interception.
8. Matt Forte wasn’t just stopped on the run. He had a tough time shaking the Lions linebackers in coverage as well.
9. The Bears came out playing Ebon Britton as a tight end/extra tackle in the second half, presumably to help block the run. Interesting thought but it didn’t help much.
10. It looked like Cutler was having a hard time gripping the ball. He threw a couple wobbly, wounded ducks, something he never does.
1. Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick and Laura Okmin all did a reasonable but not spectacular job. Brennaman is one of the best. He, for instance, pointed out (hen Billick didn’t) what Riley Reiff was left on Julius Peppers with little help and that, despite that, Peppers wasn’t doing that much damage. Certainly not as much as expected. Billick does a good job of pointing out most of what’s going on that’s relevant on the field. For instance, he pointed out the differences in the Bears punt formation compared to the rest of the league right away, having done his preparation ahead of time. But he doesn’t concentrate on Xs and Os and he doesn’t ordinarily teach me much in that respect. He always does a decent job otherwise.
2. Special teams play was uneven. The Lions committed a horse collar tackle and the Bears allowed a big return by Michael Spurlock in the second quarter. The Bears had some poor punts that left the Lions in good field position.
3. Reggie Bush and Tony Scheffler both had drops in the first half. Brandon Marshall had a big drop in the third quarter and Forte missed a catchable ball on the next play. Alshon Jeffery dropped a touchdown in the fourth quarter with the game well out of hand. Neither team really did terribly poorly in that area for one game but the Bears, in particular, can’t afford to make a habit out of having this many.
4. The game wasn’t marred by an inordinate number of penalties but the Bears had their first false start of the year in the second quarter. Kyle long had a damaging illegal hands to the face penalty that brought back a long Earl Bennett reception.
5. Glover Quinn had an interception on a poor Cutler decision to throw the ball to Brandon Marshall. Louis Delmas had two, the second on a horrible Cutler throw. Julius Peppers caused Matthew Stafford to fumble late in the second half, likely preventing yet another Lions score and allowing the offense to get the ball back and end the half with a field goal. Cutler also fumbled as Suh got him on a line stunt. That turned into six points on the recovery. Major Wright got an interception to stop a drive in the third quarter. Joique Bell fumbled in the fourth quarter and turned it over to the Bears. Too little, too late.
6. The Lions outplayed the Bears just about every way you can today. The turnovers were, of course, damaging. They always are and they are what allowed the game to get out of hand. But what stuck out to me the most was the way that the Lions dominated the Bears in the trenches, especially when the Bears were on defense. On the offensive side, the Bears got nowhere running the ball. Reggie Bush flat out ran through the defensive line like a hot knife through butter and he was into the defensive backfield in an eye blink. They got little penetration and little pressure on Stafford with rare exceptions. It didn’t help that the linebackers in general and Lance Briggs in particular had a poor game. Nevertheless, the Bears defensive line, supposedly a team strength, looks like the team’s Achilles heel.
7. Cutler had a bad game but here’s what was good about it – he carried himself well under duress. Yes, he turned the ball over and yes, he was probably rattled. That’s natural given the pressure he saw. But throughout the game all the way to the end, he carried himself like a leader. I didn’t see the constant, obvious frustration written all over his face that I think I would have seen in the past under these circumstances. There was only a little bad body language. I’m starting to think that marriage and fatherhood might be agreeing with Cutler while under the leadership of a good, even tempered coach. Certainly he showed some maturity today that was most welcome. Even though things were grim today, I think that’s going to stand this team in good stead in the future.