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Bears Tue Nov 18 2014

Bears Win Doesn't Move the Needle Enough

Chicago BearsThe Vikings are a really bad team. Three of their four wins this season came against the other three bottom-feeding teams in the NFC: Washington, Tampa Bay and St. Louis -- and their other victory was against the NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons -- who are 4-6 themselves.

To give any indications that the Bears were back, they needed a decisive victory. Something along the lines of a 20-point margin might bring some semblance of confidence back to the fanbase, even though more than 6,000 people left their seats empty at Sunday's home game. A 38-14 type of score would've brought people back for the Lovie Smith bowl this weekend and maybe the games beyond.

But that didn't happen. Instead, another sluggish start to the game, another Marc Trestman time-management boner before halftime, and more drive killing or opponent enabling penalties than you can shake a stick at. Don't forget the fake punt that ended up netting Minnesota a touchdown.

If there's one thing the Bears can beat, it's man coverage, and the Vikings played a whole lot of it. Head coach Mike Zimmer said they probably should've gone a different direction in his post game press conference, but saying that doesn't do a lot of good after you lost the game. They tried stuffing the box with eight guys and playing man-to-man with their small cornerbacks against the massive bodies of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. That's not smart football, and the Bears took advantage. They went deep, and threw a number of passes that would be qualified as "throw it near him and let your receiver make the play." It worked, and it might again against Tampa Bay this weekend, but the smarter and more talented teams on the remainder of the schedule won't make those mistakes.

Jay Cutler was OK -- converting a lot of third downs, moving up and around in the pocket to avoid pressure on a day where neither of his offensive tackles were particularly good. The first interception was him trying to force a deep throw to get into field goal range, but you can hang that turnover on Trestman. He didn't call a timeout after Teddy Bridgewater was sacked for a six-yard loss to make it 3rd-and-18 at the Minnesota 39-yard-line with about 1:52 left in the first half, but then called a timeout after the following check-down play to ensure the Bears got the ball, only to turn around and run the ball on first down after the punt. Trestman admitted yesterday that he could've managed his time better in that situation, but again, saying crap like that doesn't do the team any good, and he hasn't gotten any better at it after 26 games.

There were still plenty of missed receivers and a bad interception by the maligned quarterback, who will be with the Bears next season despite the report by Adam Schefter that the team could save a boatload of cap room next season and be completely off the hook of his contract in the future. Even if Trestman, Phil Emery and everyone in the front office gets canned, Cutler will be the quarterback for the next two years. The QB class in the draft is fairly weak, and that's the only place to look for a replacement if you're moving on.

The defense played a solid game, but we didn't really learn much from them. The Vikings offensive line is a sieve, and left tackle Matt Kalil grades out as the second worst tackle in the NFL, just ahead of Jake Matthews. If you'll note, those are the two players that Jared Allen has beat up on this year, so let's contain our excitement for a bounce back performance by him.

Bridgewater threw the ball deep just once -- on his game-ending interception -- and otherwise just settled for checkdowns and underneath routes because of the duress he was under. There were a few opportunities for him to hit the deep post because the Bears' linebackers struggle getting deep when playing Cover 2, but pressure up front prevented him from getting many clean looks. The wind and his lack of arm strength probably played a role as well.

Joe DeCamillis has taken a lot of flack this season, but he's had plenty of people defending him because he's working with an incredibly young group of players. The guy that got beat on the blocked punt against Green Bay and on the fake punt against Minnesota was none other than Danny McCray, a fifth year pro specifically brought in from DeCamillis' stay in Dallas to be the special teams ace. It's not the young guys always screwing up.

The fake punt isn't all on McCray though. The Vikings clearly knew the Bears were going to be in a return left, and ran their fake dangerously to the near side of the field because they were so confident they could execute it. For a team that said they were going to self scout during the bye week, that sure seems like something that could have been avoided.

A win is definitely an improvement over the embarrassments against Green Bay and New England, but there wasn't enough done to make anyone think they have a chance at reaching the playoffs with tough matchups against Detroit (twice), Dallas, and New Orleans remaining on the schedule. The same problems persist that have been present all year. Nothing will change until the staff does.

 
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don / November 18, 2014 11:41 AM

cutler is a cry baby with a pus arm. he will never take you to the promised land.

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