The Chicago Bears went into Monday’s game looking to derail the playoff hopes of a team that has one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but instead they found themselves on the wrong end of a 31-15 drubbing at Soldier Field.
We’ll have plenty of reaction to the game throughout the next few days, but we’ll get things started by evaluating each phase of the game in our Week 15 report card.
Sure, the Bears’ numbers ultimately looked halfway decent at the end of the game thanks to a couple of late drives, but the team’s offensive struggles that have plagued them all season reared their ugly heads in a big way in this game.
For starters, quarterback Jay Cutler looked positively atrocious throughout the game. Sure, he had a couple of late touchdowns to make the game more respectable, but his carelessness with the ball, seeming indifference to pressuring defensive linemen collapsing the pocket, and his poor execution on numerous throws all stood out.
To make matters worse, the Bears’ third down offense was terrible, only converting on two of a potential 12 chances. Whether it was the third-and-one pass that Cutler threw for an incompletion in the first quarter, or the third down pass that went right through Martellus Bennett’s hands for an interception, the Bears’ inability to keep drives alive killed them the entire night.
There were plenty of bad moments for the Bears’ defense in the game (the Saints’ final drive of the second quarter saw two really silly Bears penalties and Tim Jennings playing so far off of Kenny Stills down the sideline that the Saints’ receiver had a decide whether he should go out of bounds or move another ten yards or so up the field), but there were still a few bright spots to pay attention to.
For starters, the Bears’ third down defense was solid, holding the Saints to just four conversions in 11 attempts. Willie Young picked up a sack on a key third down in the second quarter, and later in the game, Demontre Hurst and Jon Bostic made a big stop on Mark Ingram to keep Chicago’s slim hopes alive.
Add in the turnover that Brock Vereen forced on Nick Toon right after Cutler threw a first quarter interception, and the Bears’ defense largely kept them in the game Monday.
Special Teams: C-
Let’s get the good thing out of the way first: Pat O’Donnell did a nice job punting on Monday night.
Now that’s out of the way, it’s time to focus on the bad. The Bears opened up the game with a special team’s penalty, as Senorise Perry was whistled for holding. Danny McCray got the ball on a fake punt attempt, but the Bears were flagged for only having six men on the line of scrimmage and 10 total men on the field. Marc Mariani had a couple of good moments in the game, but he also had several bad returns, including one late in the second quarter.
With the total lack of discipline the team has shown at every interval this season, it’s pretty evident that Joe Decamillis’ job is in dire jeopardy once the season wraps up. Having to deal with the number of rookies he has isn’t easy, but the fact that the same simple discipline lapses and mistakes keep occurring is a damning indictment of his philosophies.