New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) makes a catch against Chicago Bears strong safety Major Wright (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Chicago.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The Chicago Bears showed improvement in some areas against the New Orleans Saints, but there are a few areas that need improvement following the loss.
The Chicago Bears’ offense started out really slowly on their first five drives, picking up only one first down, but they really put things together later in the game. They still were a little more pass-heavy than what they would want, and the New Orleans Saints dominated the time of possession statistic (which bothered Marc Trestman a lot during his press conference Monday, but there were still positives to be gleaned as well.
For starters, Jay Cutler’s decision making was much better than it was against the Detroit Lions. He was able to make plays happen without forcing the ball into bad positions, and after a shaky start in terms of reading incoming pressure from the Saints’ defense, he did a much better job of evading Saints’ pass rushers and moving the ball downfield.
Add to that the incredible play of Alshon Jeffery, who set a Bears record with 218 receiving yards in the game, and it was largely a successful day for the offense.
It would be easy to say that the Bears’ defense had a bad afternoon with the fact that they didn’t force any turnovers or really put much pressure on Drew Brees (who was only sacked twice and threw only six incompletions), but they helped keep the Bears in the game for the most part, and they have to be given a good deal of credit for that.
During the first quarter, the defense held the Saints to a field goal on their first drive, and then despite having to deal with the Cutler fumble that gave the Saints the ball deep in the red zone, the defense stood tall again and held them to a second straight field goal.
The Saints also had 16 chances to convert on third down, but were only able to do it six times. Add to that the 66 yards rushing that the Bears held New Orleans to (with no run going for over nine yards), and the fact that Darren Sproles and Marques Colston were held to a combined five catches for 46 yards, and you can see that the defense actually played a good game overall.
The only other point of concern besides the lack of pressure (again) was how long the Saints were able to hold onto the ball. The Saints had the ball for 36 minutes in the game, and if the Bears repeat that performance, especially now that they’ve lost Nate Collins for the season with an ACL tear, then they are going to be in a world of trouble with a shallow lineup.
Special Teams: B
Last week, Adam Podlesh couldn’t hit a punt to save his life, and the Detroit Lions absolutely torched the Bears on special teams. This week, however, Podlesh seemed to find his groove, averaging 45.3 yards per punt and knocking one inside the Saints’ 20 yard line.
Meanwhile, the Bears’ coverage team kept Sproles contained, only allowing him one two-yard punt return and two kick returns for a total of 38 yards. On the flipside, Devin Hester returned a punt for 17 yards and had 49 yards worth of kick-off return yards.
There was really only one bad moment, and that came when Eric Weems committed the Bears’ first post-play penalty of the season with an unsportsmanlike conduct flag in the first half. We’re willing to give Weems a bit of a pass on that though, because he’s usually the one that’s inducing those flags against opponents, and not the other way around.
Gameday Tweets: C
It wasn’t the best of days for the Bears on Twitter, but there was at least one person (Tim Baffoe, specifically) who conjured an image of Trestman cackling evilly with this tweet after Collins went down with a knee injury:
Saints don't have a lot of tape on Bears injury replacements, so Chicago has them right where they want them.
— Tim Baffoe (@TimBaffoe) October 6, 2013
As a bonus, we also have this video of Spice Adams “preparing” to rescue the Bears at their now depleted defensive tackle position: