The Chicago Bears are heading into their bye week eager to take advantage of time to rest and recuperate, and they’ll need plenty of that after being dismantled in a 51-23 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots.
With a week off to clear their heads and a home-heavy schedule the rest of the way, the Bears might be feeling optimistic about their chances to improve on their 3-5 record on the season, but should they be?
To discuss the answer to that question, we’re busting out our handy dandy Panic Meter.
The Bears’ Week 6 victory against the Atlanta Falcons was a work of art on both sides of the ball, but their offense was especially potent. They racked up 478 yards of total offense, and they dominated time of possession as they racked up 23 first downs and a 27-13 victory.
Over the past two weeks however, the team has taken a massive step back on all counts. Their run game, while effective at times, has largely been abandoned in the early stages of games, and the passing game hasn’t picked up the slack at all. Jay Cutler is making his usual blend of bad decisions and poorly-executed throws, and as a result they’ve looked completely inert against the
Dolphins and Patriots.
With such poor coaching and quarterback play, the panic reading on the offense could be higher, but we’re maintaining it at just a “6” for two reasons: Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte. Both players have shown a lot of resilience in the past two weeks, and while players like Brandon Marshall are grabbing headlines for the wrong reasons, those two are both still grinding it out and could help this offense spark back to life.
It’s pretty easy for a defense to look bad when they’re trying to defend Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (for guidance, imagine a player like Steve Nash trying to defend Dwight Howard in the post in an NBA game), but the rest of the Bears’ defense was equally comical as Tom Brady sliced through them like a surgeon on Sunday afternoon.
Perhaps more worryingly for the Bears than just the fact that Brady was doing such a good job in the passing game was that the run defense was poor as well. Shane Vereen and Jonas Gray helped the Patriots to 122 rushing yards on the afternoon in Foxboro, and whether it was linebackers routinely filling into the wrong gaps or defensive linemen being pushed aside like they weren’t even there, there’s plenty to be concerned about for the Bears.
Adding to the worry are the injuries that keep piling up for the Bears. Darryl Sharpton suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s loss, adding to the ailments already being suffered by Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic. Kyle Fuller only played limited snaps before being replaced by Al Louis-Jean, and in the most comical injury of all, Lamarr Houston injured his knee while celebrating a fourth quarter sack.
All of these things put together should be a giant red flag to Bears fans, and unless they can hit a run of good health, they’re in big trouble.
Special Teams: 8/10
Chris Williams broke the 20-yard line on a couple of kick returns in the game, but other than that it was hardly a banner day at the office for the Bears’ special teams unit on Sunday. Pat O’Donnell almost had his first punt blocked thanks to some poor blocking on the right side of the line, and on his second punt he shanked it badly off the side of his foot. It was an unwelcome regression from him, and considering the issues that the rest of the team is having, he had better shake it off quickly.
Fans don’t need to be reminded of this, but this team could easily be staring at a 3-6 record after they head up to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 10. Having an extra week to prepare for Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will be nice, and getting some guys back and healthy could help, but it would take a huge leap of faith to actually pick the Bears to win that contest.
The Bears do have some winnable home games coming up in the second half of the season (Tampa Bay, Minnesota), but they also have to deal with the Detroit Lions twice and have to play the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. Those are some really tough games, and based on what we’ve seen from the team lately, a 6-10 or 7-9 record at the end of the season isn’t out of the question.