This game while a loss kind of legitimised the Bears as a team definitely on the rise. They were in the game until the end in a hostile environment at the Mercedes-Benz Dome in New Orleans versus the Saints and never showed one ounce of quit. This in spite of falling behind by 11 at halftime and then having two of your interior linemen injured and not return forcing them to play two tackles at both guard spots and have Josh Sitton as the center as they did not dress Hroniss Grasu. Up until that point, the Bears Offensive line was dominating up front and blowing off the Saints defensive line and running the ball with success. Howard was having a good first half and even a nice start to the 2nd half with a 50-yard run that got the Bears from out of the shadow of their own end zone at about the two. A play I’ll break down later.
Another thing that worked against them on the road was another sad display of officiating. Not sure if it was home cooking or what, but the Bears had an awful call go against them with the Zack Miller touchdown reversal, many missed holding calls (but 3 very blatant ones against Leonard Floyd) that would have been sacks, hurries &/or hits, and a missed Fumble that should have gone the Bears way. Then there was the no-touchdown call on Tarik Cohen’s leap over the line that looks like it crossed the plain of the goal line that eventually forced the Bears to kick a field goal instead of getting a touchdown.
Also, an offside penalty called on Kyle Fuller that gave the Saints a first down and another shot at a touchdown which they converted that added 4 more points to the tally. Not sure what happened here with the spot of the ball but you can see that Ingram was tackled by Trevathan short of the 14. Then you see Fuller lined up behind the 14. In the still below I drew a red arrow across so you can see Fuller’s head and hands were both behind the 14-yard line and the spot should have been behind the 14 by at least 6-8 inches maybe even a full foot. As a matter of fact, going by the Fox blue line for the line of scrimmage two more Bears would have been lined up inside the line of scrimmage. You can even see the Saints center doesn’t have the ball past the 14-yard line. Unfortunately, the broadcast view or the all-22 never shows the Line of scrimmage marker before the kick. So, in my opinion, this is just another poor job by the referees. Here are the stills I captured from the broadcast view which had better angles than the all-22.
So that’s a 14 point swing (when you add the extra 4 points the Saints got on the offsides call on their field goal) the Bears were screwed out of and would have easily been enough to take that game on the road and gotten them to at the midway point going into the bye in great shape. However, they never quit in spite of all that. A testament to the much maligned and heavily scrutinized Bears head coach John Fox who has his players fully bought in and fighting tooth and nail for wins.
However, the defense is the thing that most legitimises the Bears as a formidable adversary to the rest of the league. They are legit. Only Brees’ Guile, years of experience and some holding no calls as I mentioned early probably kept him out of the trainer’s room because the Bears defense is maybe the most physical defense in the league and they were coming at him with blood in their eyes. At this point, it’s fairly obvious that the Bears defense is not one to look forward to playing if you don’t want some bumps and bruises the next week. Because you will have them.
I’m sure because it was statically underwhelming Mitch Trubisky’s game this past Sunday would probably be given a failing grade by most, but not by me. I saw real growth and was very impressed with the way he handled himself. Yes, he still missed some plays out there. The last Bears offensive play immediately comes to mind where he was intercepted throwing to Tre McBride III and missed what looked like a wide-open Daniel Brown streaking towards the left flat on a corner route. He had no touchdown passes officially but we all know that he should have had one after that atrocious reversal call on the initial touchdown call on a beautiful pass to Zack Miller on the corner route. He also had a huge 50 plus run where he stepped up on corner blitz he ran away from.
Here’s one he either missed or did not feel comfortable enough throwing as there was traffic around Tanner Gentry who was open. Not sure what’s going on between these two but since Gentry has been promoted Trubisky and gentry have had a hell of a time getting connected in spite of many routes gentry was clearly open on were Trubisky either missed him or misfired his way. Here is no different. You can see as Trubisky rolls to his right Gentry is open and if hit in stride gets an explosive play (15+ yards).
Here’s another one Trubisky missed that could’ve been 6, but Bears settles for 3 after this play. Shaheen runs a simple in route. Even though he doesn’t get separation from the Linebacker he still gains inside position ad if thrown on target had the defender shielded form the ball and probably gets in the end zone. Another 4 points lost and another missed opportunity.
Ball sails high and behind Shaheen perhaps expecting him to run a different route but coverage dictated Shaheen run the route he did so if that was the case it was a bad read. Either physical or mental this needs to be corrected.
Clearly, from my grade, it wasn’t all bad and mostly good. On this play the Bears run a two man pick play between Miller and McBride on the left side of the formation. Just before the play, the Saints defensive backs have an issue on their assignments and this may have helped with how wide open McBride was along with the two-man pick.
Miller executes the pick as McBride runs a corner route into the left flat while Gentry occupies the cornerback to the boundary and the two DB’s I mentioned earlier are lost covering no one.
Trubisky makes the correct read and makes a quick decisive throw to McBride who makes a nice adjustment to the ball and catches it in the left flat and gets 25 yards out of it. excellent play design by Loggains and execution by the offense.
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line had a nice rebound game against the Saints after a pretty poor outing against the Panthers. Of course, they didn’t have many chances to redeem themselves after running only 37 offensive plays. On this play, you can see the line working extremely well together. Even with a new Right Guard as Long was injured in the form of Tom Compton. Think he has found his future position in the NFL.
In this still, you see how coordinated they are. They run some deception to give the defense something to consider causing a split second of hesitation on the fake jet sweep to Cohen. Even Howard sells it well by concealing the ball like he was the fake option. Shaheen dives at the feet of the end as he lost his footing but still did enough to get him out of the picture. Even Wright gets in on the action in case Howard made it through the second level of tacklers which unfortunately didn’t happen. Still got 9 yards though.
Compton, Whitehair, Sitton work well together moving the defenders to the left making a gaping hole for Howard. Unfortunately, Shaheen can’t get a body on the end and he eventually gets into the play and helps bring Howard down or this would have been an even bigger play than 9 yards. A lot bigger.
Unfortunately, Shaheen can’t get a body on the end and he eventually gets into the play and helps bring Howard down or this would have been an even bigger play than 9 yards. A lot bigger.
Wide Receiver: B
Just like Trubisky the Statline has much to be desired. Only 5 catches amongst the group and only two players snagged catches Wright and Mcbride. However, they played well. Ran crisp routes and blocked well and when their number was called they answered.
Here, Loggains actually helps get the receiver get open. They start out in 12 personnel with McBride on the left of the formation next to Miller and Dion Sims in a stack formation tight to the formation.
McBride motions from left to right and settles to the right of Gentry. There’s no movement by the Saints secondary signaling zone. The Corner takes the outside route, the Safety the inside breaking route. McBride takes the in-breaking route and Gentry the out as McBride runs a crossing flag route from the right flat into the left flat and draws the safety. In this case a mismatch. Gentry draws the cornerback with a deep dig route.
Trubisky reads this well and drops a dime on McBride in stride in the right flat for a 45 yard gain.
Tight End: B
The Tight Ends blocked well and caught what they could or were given credit for. On this play, you could not have a better throw and catch on a corner route for a Touchdown. Only problem is this was overturned which is a crime. Miller showing the concentration and the toughness to hang on to the ball in spite of almost having his lower leg from the knee down nearly completely separated from the upper leg. Horrific. as I mentioned just great execution on the throw and catch. Shame it was taken away.
I’ll avoid the actual catch part so none has to worry about seeing the gruesome injury. Here, Bears set Miller in motion. A DB follows him to the other side identifying man coverage and lets Trubisky know Miller will be one on one against a DB.
Miller gains enough separation and the outside position on the DB here. Trubisky makes the right read and throw.
Trubisky drops an absolute dime that should have been a Touchdown!
Running Back: B
Howard had another 100 yard plus game. That deserves at least a B alone, but also add the impact Cohen had as a decoy and coverage dictator as well as Michael Burton’s play at FullBack who simply makes every block he’s asked to make and you have another stellar day from this group.
Here, he simply follows his Fullback Michael Burton into the Gaping hole the Offensive Line created. Charles Leno blocks down and seals the tackle off and Miller takes out the Edge defender and Compton pulls to trap the oncoming Linebacker.
In this still, you can see how quickly an enormous hole closes in the NFL, but Howard has enough timing with his blockers and burst as well as strength to break through before getting tackled.
Here, you see Howard just get through a fraction of a second before it completely closes up. Compton and Leno provide the most impressive block with pancakes knocking their men off balance and to the ground.
And the finish for 50 yards.
Defensive Line: B
The Defensive Line was it’s usually stout and disruptive self. They had a lot of impact plays, but I’m going to show how stout they are on a 3 yard gain by the Saints on a running play. As you see here Bears rush two linemen who all get doubles and two OLB’s with McPhee getting the double and Floyd single blocked away from the point of attack. All three men double hold their position except for Goldman who gets moved off but then quickly re-anchors leaving that hole congested which causes the meger 3 yard gain. This group is hard to move off the line of scrimmage and when Goldman is healthy damn near impossible to run on through the A gaps.
Bears ILB Christian Jones is kept clean and allowed to make the tackle.
Here you see the pre-snap alignment. Bears with two man over press man under and also in an underfront alignment where both inside linemen are lined up on the inside shoulder of both guards.
In this still, I wanted to show you how well the Bears are playing complimentary defense between the front 7 and backend. Everyone is covered forcing Brees to hold on to the ball and allowing the pressure to get in.
Here, you see hick break throw on a swim move as the defensive backfield hold their coverage.
Finally, you see the result of the play. A big 5-yard sack by Hicks.You do see a man break free late along the right sideline, and another along the seam but by then it was too late as Brees had his eyes down balling into the fetal position to minimize the hit he takes for the sack as Hicks secures him and tosses him to the ground.
Outside Linebacker: A
This grade is mostly based on the disruption Floyd caused. To say he is coming of age would be a drastic understatement. Floyd is here mainly for what he can do on the pass rush, but he is the total package. He can play in all phases of the defense and is good in coverage and run defense. Here, I picked this amazing play that resulted in a sack. Mainly because of his out of this world athleticism, but Mitch Unrein pitches in inadvertently. Here the Bears are in their standard nickel package with two outside Linebackers of the edge and two interior linemen on the outside shoulder of each guard (3 technique). Here, Unrein subs in for Hicks.
As Floyd rushes the passer the back tries to undercut Floyd who uses his extreme physical gifts to vault over the attempted block like he’s on a trampoline which causes Brees to have to pull down the ball.
As he does that Floyd flies by him but that delay gave Unrein the time to push Saints center Max Under back far enough that when Brees steps to his right to move out of the pocket and away from danger he trips over Unger’s leg and falls to the turf where Floyd touches him down for the sack forcing a punt.
Even in coverage, this unit excels. Look at what backup Acho does here. He’s lined up against the slot receiver.
Now, this is how you cover! Acho just grabs him and flings him to the ground like a rag doll! Looks like it was Brees’ primary option too as he starts to go through his progressions immediately after this and has nowhere to go as the Bears have this perfectly defended on the back end. Late pressure by the End forces him to scramble and a closing Trevathan forces him into a slide to avoid getting destroyed for a 1 yard gain and a punt on a perfectly defended 3rd down.
brees getting heat and forced out of the pocket for a 1-yard gain and failed 3rd down conversion.
Inside Linebacker: B
This group has probably been the most resourceful group of them all. Sustaining injuries to their leader Jerrell Freeman and their primary backup to Freeman Nick Kwiatoski. It hasn’t hurt them one bit, however. Christian Jones has played like he has been the starter on this team for years and Trevathan has been playing like the all pro the Bears have thought they got when they signed as a free agent in 2016.
Here, Trevathan excels in coverage. Trevathan plays the Mike as the Bears are once again in their basic nickel package in their under-front look.
At the snap, Brees inexplicably misses his main read on a crossing short dig and was wide open. He either had his eyes down trying to see the rush or could not see over the line.
That moment of hesitation allows the pressure to close in on Brees and just before it does he hits the checkdown on a short out pattern. Fortunately for the Bears they have Trevathan who can cover like a Defensive back and he picks Ingram up and runs him down as quickly as he makes the catch. As I showed earlier in my open he tackles him short of the 14 which led to that awful neutral zone infraction on Fuller which gave the Saints a first down and another crack at the end zone instead of accepting the field goal.
Cornerbacks continue to play well. There were some mistakes here and there, but against the Saints offense in their building, it’s quite the task to hold Drew Brees to zero touchdowns and the Saints offense to 20 points. That deserves a B.
Here Callahan gets the spotlight. There were no picks in this game so a pass breakup is a nice consolation prize.Callahan checks the slot receiver as he often does as the teams primary Nickel Back. Floyd once again as he did often in this game puts the heat on Brees forcing him to throw it to his primary read who was open.
That didn’t last long as Callahan quickly closes the gap on his man and bats the ball away. You know you’re backend is in good shape when your Nickel Back can make plays like this.
This group had no impact plays bad or good so I will keep this section to words only as there are no interesting stills to breakdown There was one play where Eddie Jackson Allowed a pass to get completed where it looked like he could have defended it, but it looked like he and Kyle Fuller both were confused as to who should make the play. Much like a pop up in the outfield where the infielder and outfielder allow a ball to drop thinking the other was going to catch it. Other than that they performed average. Did not allow too many big plays nor made many.
Special Teams: D
A missed field goal highlights the poor grade, but although the coverage unit did ok, but, it’s starting to get tiring week in week out watching how poor the return game is and how little they contribute to the team. Whether by design, or execution this points to coaching as the Bears have made roster decisions for special teams alone to give Bears special teams coordinator all the help he needs to achieve what he needs to do like Benny Cunningham, Josh Bellamy, Sherrick McMannis, and DeAndre Houston-Carson for example. None are going to be fixtures on any unit other than special teams. Maybe Cunningham can be a guy that fits into nickel offensive downs here and there. my conclusion is Rodgers is N.F.L. (Not for long) as the Bears special teams coach.
Many Fans and Pundits alike love to talk about how the coaching on this team sucks and holds this team back but this team has been in every game that Glennon didn’t piss away with doofus like pocket movement and awareness, poor decision making and more importantly turnovers in their two blowout losses to the Bay brothers, Green and Tampa. Sure Fox has made a couple of his patented game clock errors this season, some play call question marks all teams have at one time or another, and some would even point to the decision to throw late in this game on 3rd and 1 and then 4th and 1, but those same people also complain about predictability and those were not predictable calls. As a matter of fact, if Trubisky makes the play on the 3rd and 1 play it was there to make and executed to perfection said for the Quarterback. Now truth be told I run it twice there, but then again I’m not a guy screaming about predictability. I don’t mind it in the right moments like the last two wins for example. Thought the game plans were solid on both sides of the ball and acceptable execution was achieved on special teams that still continues to lack big plays from their return units. Can’t blame missed field goals on coaching.
In this still, you can see scheme is not an issue when it comes to the offense led by Loggains guidance. On one hand many say they are held back by the personnel and lack of weapons who can’t get open when defending Trubisky, but on the other hand, the same critics will say Dowell Loggains doesn’t help his Quarterback out enough by running predicable poorly designed plays. Here, you see Guys are open and this one is completely on Trubisky and the play call and design is on point. It also shows these young receivers are perfectly capable of executing routes and getting open. As you can see, at this point there are visibly two open options, Burton on the check down and Cohen streaking into the left flat on a deep crossing flat route. However, you can also see two more guys are about to gain separation and beat their men on two routes that can go for touchdowns if Trubisky shows more patience and makes use of a fake pump on the double move from McBride. I took this still to show the exact time Trubisky makes his decision and is beginning his throwing motion.
As in the still above shows, the DB on McBride gets completely turned around on a wonderful double move and in the next still below you see how wide open McBride is on the post as the middle of the field is vacated by the single high Safety who commits to Cohen as he sees where Trubisky is going to throw the ball to. Perhaps as the offensive staff watches the film they can replicate this play and add a pump fake to fool the safety if they have the same coverage and go with the post for a strike. That’s a sure TD. You also see Gentry start to pull away from his man and has the inside of the field to him to shield off the defender should he catch up which is a strength of Gentry’s. A good throw also results in a likely Touchdown. As you can see there are 4 open options as the ball is released. Also, I mistakenly wrote Miller on the still, but that is FB Michael Burton as the check-down. I deleted the pic so I couldn’t make the correction unless I wanted to do it over and I didn’t.
He decides to go to Cohen who is open and if given the ball accurately could very well catch and run it into the end zone so not a bad decision, however, a poor throw as it sails over his head.
You can make all the moral victory arguments you want and this team looks like it has grown and the arrow is pointed up, but chalk this one up to yet another tough loss. Sure some things went against them like the officiating which is one of two games that probably directly helped them lose (Minnesota being the other game) but in spite of that if the Bears executed plays that were there to make they still may have pulled this one out. ruth is that this is a team that is young at key positions and are learning how to win in this league.
This is particularly true of their rookie signal-caller Mitch Trubisky as he has missed many reads and thrown the ball inaccurately at times down the field but this was expected by the smart guys out there and should have even by everyone. You are going to get inconsistent play from a rookie. History shows this. However, at least he is conscious enough to not make poor enough decisions to piss games away for the team. So that in itself is progress. Especially considering your highly paid vet Quarterback failed to do just that and sucked the moral right out of the team.
As the second half approaches the Bears have the 5th easiest schedule in the league to look forward to after the bye and with it an opportunity to stack wins and perhaps salvage the season with a playoff run. They also have the opportunity to bring back a couple of their injured reserve guys to help with this run. The team also gets to self-scout and make tweaks so we shall see how well that goes. Much to the dismay of many the Bears probably show enough progress to keep this train rolling at least for one more season. This is probably for the best and something fans should hope works out for the team as you will be at the mercy of yet another rebuild by bringing in another coaching staff that doesn’t guarantee a damn thing. History shows teams with organizational continuity typically are teams that achieve sustained success. Bears have not had that which is not a coincidence to the poor record the Bears have sustained since the 80’s Bears said for 3 maybe 4 seasons under the Lovie Smith/Jerry Angelo regime mainly during the Ron Rivera DC days. I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting hard for consistency. You should be too.