Week 7: Battered Bears outlasted by Packers, fall to 1-6
Wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but the Bears still fell to the Packers tonight and are now 1-6 on the season.
1. Quarterback situation just got even worse
Any notion of whether or not Jay Cutler will start again for the Bears when healthy ended tonight after Brian Hoyer broke his arm in the second quarter of tonight’s game. It goes without saying that he will miss a significant portion of time, possibly the remainder of the season.
Brian Hoyer : 4 of 11 for 49 yards (Didn't return after he broke his left arm with 10:21 left in the 2nd quarter) https://t.co/aSTOWmnHA3
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) October 21, 2016
With that knowledge, it’s almost a given that Cutler will be the #1 QB the moment he is healthy, unless for some reason the Bears decide they just don’t care anymore and want to see what they have in Matt Barkley, who couldn’t make much of a borderline impossible situation.
For myself, I am expecting to see Cutler try to make his comeback two Mondays from now at home against the currently undefeated Minnesota Vikings. If he is still unable to play, Barkley will likely get his first Bears start.
One way or another, however, expect a few warm bodies to work out at Halas Hall this week just to give the team an option for another quarterback. As it currently stands, the only healthy body that could conceivably play quarterback for the Bears is…Cameron Meredith?
Also, while I certainly assumed that the Bears would bring back Hoyer as a potential stop-gap quarterback while they brought next year’s rookie draft pick up to speed—also assuming they part with Cutler—this injury might have introduced the slightest bit of doubt into that equation, especially given that Hoyer is only on a 1-year deal.
All we can be certain of is that Hoyer’s time as the starting quarterback here is over, and that it’s almost definitely Cutler’s job when he returns.
2. The Bears’ defense couldn’t keep Rodgers down
Contrary to my foreboding, the Bears did not roll over for a Packers team that clearly is not running on all cylinders.
Early in the game, the defense in particular really frustrated Aaron Rodgers, squeezing his throwing windows by keeping tight with his receivers, making a few clutch plays in the red zone, and even getting to Rodgers for a few sacks (including a strip-sack by Leonard Floyd recovered for a TD. More on that later…).
But as the game wore on, Rodgers gradually started to expose the Bears’ pair of young cornerbacks on the outside and got the ball to his playmakers in space, where the secondary struggled to get people to the ground.
Undrafted rookie Davante Bausby had an especially poor game and got picked on frequently whenever he was matched up with Davante Adams, who had a career game, posting 13 catches for 132 yards and 2 TDs.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 21, 2016
Add that to the continued miscommunications, including a terrible blown coverage by Tracy Porter and Harold Jones-Quartey, and the bad tackling, and you have a lot of negatives sprinkled in with what started off as a positive evening.
3. Running back-by-committee is back
After his two breakout games against the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts, going over 100 yards in both contests, Jordan Howard has struggled to get things going against better defensive teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers.
In his last two games, Howard has carried the ball 22 times for only 56 yards (2.54 ypc), far from the 39 carry/229 yard/5.87 ypc slashline from his first two starts. Chalk that up mostly to playing against better competition, as the Bears’ offensive line has clearly struggled more to open up running lanes.
Additionally, the Bears’ coaching staff clearly likes what Ka’Deem Carey has to offer and has been leaning more on him as he works his way back from injury and Howard has struggled.
Though he still hasn’t proven much yet in the passing game, Carey has put up 98 yards on 19 carries (5.16 ypc) over his last two games and has continued to hit holes hard, which is contrasted somewhat with some tentativeness on Howard’s part at the moment.
Ka'Deem Carey (6 rushes, 34 yards) and Josh Bellamy (2 catches, 32 yards) are your #Bears offensive leaders. No one could have guessed that.
— Jake Perper (@BearsBacker) October 21, 2016
Nonetheless, it appears that rather than anoint Howard the clear workhorse, the Bears will ride the hot hand as they have over the past two weeks, as Carey has increasingly started to gain more touches—in fact, he out-touched Howard 11-7 tonight overall.
It will be interesting to see if Howard can start to regain the form he showed early on, particularly if the Bears offensive line has to replace both Josh Sitton and Kyle Long, who left tonight’s game also, for any significant time. Hopefully, it wasn’t just a matter of him looking good against bums.
4. Leonard Floyd comes back with a bang
After missing two weeks with a calf injury, the Bears were looking forward to getting Floyd back and continuing his much needed development as a pass rusher. He certainly made an impact tonight.
After a narrow miss on a sack in which he couldn’t quite bring down Rodgers outside the pocket, Floyd finally got home for the first solo sack of his career.
#9 overall pick @Leonard90Flo sacks A-Rodg! 💪💪💪
— NFL (@NFL) October 21, 2016
To make things even better though, that wasn’t the only first he would pick up tonight, bringing down Rodgers near the end zone, knocking the ball out of his hands, and then recovering it for his first career fumble recovery. To make it better, it was a touchdown.
— Chicago Sports News (@ChiSportUpdates) October 21, 2016
One can only hope that, despite the loss, this could be a sign of increased production (health provided) for Floyd. The mostly non-existent pass rush could really use it.
5. Jeffery’s woes continue
Blows my mind that #Bears Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery still doesn't have a touchdown this season. Just crazy to me.
— Chicago Sports News (@ChiSportUpdates) October 21, 2016
Alshon Jeffery must be feeling pretty down right now. Despite getting targeted a season-high 11 times, Jeffery only managed to haul in three passes for 33 yards, with one catch coming in garbage time.
His first four targets all resulted in incomplete passes, including a couple of throws that missed him entirely. Then, once Hoyer went down, there wasn’t really much that could be done, as the beleaguered Barkley was harassed into inaccurate throws and two interceptions.
It looked like the Bears were trying to get Jeffery more opportunities close to the line of scrimmage so as to keep him within Hoyer’s striking range, but even that didn’t work, as evidenced by a screen pass that was almost picked off by Julius Peppers.
At this point, what’s a guy to do? So much for the 12 touchdowns I predicted for him at the start of this season…then again, it’s not like we predicted Cutler would go down in Week 2, I guess…