Game Comments: Saints at Bears 10/6/13
- The Saints came out in a standard looking 4-3. The game plan was apparently to keep the Bears off balance with some well-timed blitzes. The Bears tried to counter by running the ball. Unfortunately it didn’t work early as the Bears found themselves continually in situations where they had to pass. They spent the first quarter looking discombobulated.
- Jay Cutler’s first fumble was a big part of the miserable start for the offense. Rob Ryan sent an overload blitz from the left side. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod correctly blocked the inside man and let the outside man go free. It was up to Cutler to get rid of the ball and possibly one of the receivers to adjust his route. Unfortunately Jay Cutler never saw the blitzer so we’ll never know if the receiver adjusted. It looked to me like the wide receiver didn’t adjust on the first sack of the second quarter where the same thing happened.
- It wasn’t just Cutler. The offensive line had its hands full again this week. It looked like they had a tough time dealing with the speed of the Saints defensive ends in the 4-3 even without the blitz.
- The key to the Saints defense wasn’t just the blitzes. They really had a tough time running the ball. It’s no coincidence that the Bears scored their touchdown in the second quarter after executing some nice running plays with both Matt Forte and Michael Bush and that they moved the ball a lot better after that. Unfortunately they were behind and the Saints had some sustained drives that ate up too much time in the second half to allow them to come back.
- I would also note that the Bears started to attack the edges with the run in the second quarter. They did this briefly against the Lions with some success but then abandoned it for some reason. They kept bringing it back on occasion today, again with some success.
- I note once again that the Bears went to an unbalanced line with Ebon Britton in as an extra tackle, presumable to help the running game and as extra protection for the pass.
- I also note that the Saints started to give Alshon Jeffery some extra attention in the second half. We may start seeing more of that in the future.
- The Bears were playing man-to-man underneath on first down. This was apparently an effort to try to force the Saints to go deep with the ball. Interestingly they still kept it short until midway through the second quarter when the finally started to burn the Bears defense with Jimmy Graham.
- The Bears tackling seemed to be much better this week.
- The pass rush also seemed much better in the first quarter, then not so much the rest of the game. There wasn’t much blitzing in the first half and only a little more in the second. There was some pressure but it seemed that quarterback Drew Brees had a long time to throw at times. Nice to see Nate Collins show up with a sack. It was a shame to see him go into the dressing room injured. Shea McClellin seemed to be around Brees a lot, especially in the first half. Unfortunately the lack of a pass rush in the second quarter allowed the Saints to start to beat the Bears with longer passes.
- Lance Briggs looked better this week after a lousy game against the Lions as he showed up all over the field. Nice to see him back. Too bad about the late offsides penalty which really marred the effort. Really, all of the linebackers showed up today.
- I was a little disappointed that the Bears didn’t do a better job of stopping the run. The Saints actually got a little play action going as linebacker D.J. Williams had a tough time getting back into coverage in the cover two. This was not a good running team and they had too mush success.
- It appeared to me like the Bears kept the Saints in third and long more often than they have with other teams they’ve played. As a result they were doing a good job of stopping them at those times.
- Even though there weren’t a lot of points scored, I thought the defense allowed the Saints to sustain some long drives in the second half that ate up the clock. They needed to get them off the field.
- Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were sharp. I thought Aikman was particularly on his game making subtle comments. One such fact that he pointed out was that Alshon Jeffery wasn’t the first read on his touchdown in the second quarter. Cutler was looking for the inside receiver on the play but went to Jeffery when he popped open. The FOX crew got a good shot of Cutler in the first half going through his reads before finally throwing the ball to the third one against tight coverage. They also got a great shot of Pierre Thomas’s touchdown near the end of the first half. The receivers cleared the linebackers out and there was no one left on the offensive left side to stop him. It was superb coverage.
- There was a lot of slipping around out there by the Saints. Not so much by the Bears. You have to wonder if they had the wrong size cleats on. I would have expected sideline reporter Pam Oliver to ask about this.
- The Saints played a pretty clean game penalty-wise. I thought the Bears had far too many. Eric Weems had what was apparently a dumb personal foul call in the second quarter. D.J. Williams got called for a horse collar tackle that I’m not sure wasn’t bogus. I thought his hand was on the top of the shoulder pads. Charles Tillman had a holding penalty near the end of the third quarter on the disorganized punt return mentioned below. Lance Briggs had an awful offsides penalty on a fourth down in the fourth quarter that kept a Saints drive going with about 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Corey Wooton had another on eon the same drive.
- Special teams were not remarkable except for the disorganized manner in which they received a punt near the end of the third quarter. There was some of this last week as well. There’s no excuse for that and it needs to be cleaned up.
- Again, the Saints were pretty clean. Kenny Stills had a bad drop in the fourth quarter. Once again, as last week, I thought the Bears were a loose with the drops. This is not a team like the Packers that can be dropping balls. Matt Forte came out unsteady by bobbling the ball a couple times. He also had a drop in the second quarter along with Dante Rosario. Earl Bennett had a killer drop in the fourth quarter on a fourth and three.
- The Bears got no turnovers. They gave one which handed the Saints a field goal.
- The defense cleaned up a lot of problems compared to last week. The tackling was much better and it looked to me like players were generally in their gaps. But I was really disappointed in the way the offense came out today. After a lot of real progress which showed their talent at the skill positions I thought they took a step back the last two weeks. The offensive line hasn’t looked strong and the unit looked out of sync. It looked like they were a step slow all day. It may be like this for a while – two steps forward, one step back. We’ll just have to be comforted by the fact that the arrow is pointing up and they’ll come out better for having missed some plays today.