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Bears Tue Nov 26 2013

Where's the 'Next Man Up' for Poor Play?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngMonday press conferences with Marc Trestman have been a joy for the most part. He doesn't screw around with non-answers like his predecessor did, he gives explanations for decision-making processes (successful or not), and hasn't made an attempt to misdirect the media.

Trestman has been a revelation offensively. With new weapons across the offensive line and at the skill positions, he's taken a Bears team that had trouble scoring for decades, and turned it into one of the most potent units in the NFL (despite some struggles near the goalline).

Although he deserves heaps of praise, I honestly have no idea what film he's watching sometimes. Michael Bush has won games for you? You mean the eighth highest cap hit on the team that's averaging 1.6 yards per carry and dropped a sure touchdown pass in Sunday's game, Michael Bush? Seven carries for negative-five yards wasn't an aberration, it's been a norm for that guy the past couple seasons.

No changes in the defensive lineup? What on earth does Chris Conte or Major Wright have to do to lose their starting jobs? Wright is last, and Conte is eighth worst at the safety position this season according to Pro Football Focus. They miss tackles, take terrible angles, and commit killer penalties in pass coverage on a weekly basis. The combo is on par with safeties from Washington and Jacksonville in terms of how poorly they've performed. Combined record of those squads: 5-17.

And I'm really sick of Shea McClellin (third worst at 4-3 DE according to PFF) playing on first and second downs when run plays are available to the offense. He got brutalized on five or six occasions on Sunday when it was his job to set the backside edge. Instead, the misdirection plays the Rams drew up specifically to attack him led to countless long runs, first downs and touchdowns. Basically 10 yards per carry if you eliminate the kneel downs taken at the end of the game. If you want to play him in pass rush scenarios on third down, go ahead, but he hasn't done anything to prove he can stay disciplined in the run game when the scheme is predicated on it.

I'm OK with a coach who defends his individual players publicly, but then gives it to them in the film room and hits them with less playing time. That's Tom Thibodeau's style, and it's worked for him just fine. But if you continue to play guys who consistently repeat the same mistakes week in and week out, without giving their backups a shot to play average football, it's a disservice to the rest of the squad who has put and kept the team in the playoff hunt. The Bears, for all their injuries, penalties and terrible play, are still tied for first in the division.

If these guys keep playing, they will continue to lose you games like they've done all year. The Lions play a Packers group on Thursday led by a QB who's been with three teams this year and wasn't even on the roster two weeks ago. A victory there combined with Adrian Peterson rushing for 300 yards against the Bears on Sunday (that might not be an exaggeration) puts the team two games behind in the division. You have to outpace Detroit by a game since they own the tiebreaker, and falling behind this late in the season is devastating.

A mantra you've preached all season when dealing with a litany of injuries is "next man up." It's time to practice what you preach and send a message to your team that repeated mistakes will not be tolerated.

 
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