Week 14: New week, same story as Bears fall to Lions
Well, the Chicago Bears are still playing, so that means that you’ll still be hearing from me a few more times this year. As my man Matt Barkley says:
Gotta Bear Down and Fight On
— Matthew Barkley (@MattBarkley) December 11, 2016
So without further ado, here’s some of what I saw in today’s sad 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions, which drops them to 3-10 on the season.
1. Bears continue to come up short when it counts
The song remains the same for the Bears as a team: they stay competitive in games, but when it comes to make winning plays and seize control of games, they find ways to fail.
It looked for a moment is though that narrative could be about to change after the much maligned Cre’Von LeBlanc stepped in front of a Matt Stafford throw in the 4th quarter and returned it for a score to put the Bears up 17-13.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 11, 2016
But then, the Lions drove down the field, aided by a questionable pass interference call on the Bears in the red zone, to take the lead back on a Stafford scramble.
Then, the last Bears got a last chance to claim a winnable game, one more chance to show that they can get it done in crunch time despite how awful this season has been. And it went the way we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
Right on the cusp of field goal range, Cameron Meredith, who did have a touchdown earlier in the game, dropped a ball that would’ve gotten them within Connor Barth’s comfortable zone.
Then, when Meredith redeemed himself and had a huge catch-and-run to even put the Bears in position to win, it was wiped out by a holding penalty by Charles Leno Jr.
And THEN, when Matt Barkley fought back with gutsy deep ball to rookie Daniel Braverman that would’ve moved the chains, Ted Larsen negated that play with his own holding penalty.
To finish it off, Josh Bellamy dropped a 4th-down throw, sending the Bears to their 10th loss of the season.
At this point, I think this is part of the reason I’m still watching the Bears play football: what will they think of next.
2. Leonard Floyd has the potential to do it all
Of late, we’ve been primarily interested in Floyd’s improvement as a pass-rusher throughout the season, as he’s sitting on an NFL rookie-leading 7.0 sacks this season.
But in today’s game, he showed that his game is rounding into something more complete as the season rolls on.
While not recording a sack today, he deflected a pass and made an excellent play on an end-around, dropping Golden Tate for a TFL.
Leonard Floyd not fooled by the razzle dazzle. He's been pretty fantastic today
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) December 11, 2016
Additionally, Vic Fangio continues to use Floyd all over the field to utilize his speed and athleticism, dropping him into coverage and even using him as a quarterback spy on occasion. As he continues to learn the game on an NFL level, it seems as if his versatility will become his greatest weapon as he slowly is turned into a Swiss Army knife-type defender.
Then again, it seems as though the Bears could still stand to use him more frequently as a pure pass-rusher. He’s starting to become such a pain to block that offensive linemen are beginning to hold him as their default blocking technique.
Or maybe that was just the Lions…
Either way, I’m well past wondering if the Floyd pick is going to pan out or not. In fact, he’s devouring his learning curve so quickly that it’s fair to wonder if he could be a future defensive player of the year with all of the skills he could potentially add to his arsenal.
3. Jordan Howard only had 13 carries for 86 yards.
Clearly, someone (named Dowell Loggains) doesn’t want Howard to set a new Bears rookie rushing record.
— Bears Report (@bears_fanly) December 11, 2016
4. The Jeremy Langford Experiment needs to stop
Uh…Ka’Deem Carey was active today, right? Yeah, he was?
Then why is Jeremy Langford out-playing him in relief of Jordan Howard? Or, more bluntly, why didn’t Carey play at all?
I think if we’ve noticed anything about Langford this season, it’s that he doesn’t do much for you when you hand him the football, which is unfortunate because running backs often receive the ball via the handoff.
Clearly, we’re not privy to something going on in Bears’ practices or perhaps there’s some injury stuff we don’t know. Because otherwise, there’s no good reason why Carey is losing touches to a thoroughly ineffective Langford. I’d hope someone will be asking Loggains about this this week.
5. Bears need to look for receivers in the off-season
Alshon Jeffery will be the top free agent receiver in this year’s crop, though injuries, drug suspensions, and a lack of production this year could make him a slightly less attractive option now. Even if the Bears kept him, he’s no guarantee to stay on the field.
Kevin White will be returning from his second major injury next year and still has development to do even if healthy.
Marquess Wilson is an upcoming free agent who can’t stay on the field. And neither can Eddie Royal, which is why I think he’ll be cut.
Meredith and Bellamy, in addition to their exploits against the Tennessee Titans, have continued to commit soul-killing drops in dire situations. Meredith has shown enough to merit a chance next season, should he gain some consistency, but Bellamy’s place with the team is likely in big trouble despite his special teams value.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 11, 2016
And we have no idea if Daniel Braverman is good or not because he’s not being utilized much.
This screams to me that the Bears will be drafting another receiver, probably by Day 3, next April.
Yes, the Bears have needs everywhere, but with star safety Eric Berry on the market this off-season, we know Ryan Pace will throw a good portion of his $60 million in cap space at him to shore up the secondary. And expect Jeffery to get a good offering from that pot of money as well.
No matter who quarterbacks the Bears next season, the offense needs playmakers, and they could finally use some stability at the receiver position.