In this week’s edition of Grizzly Details, we take a look at whether or not Marc Trestman made the right call on a fourth down play deep in Rams territory, as well as some disturbing numbers from Michael Bush and Josh McCown's overall play.
Thinking Right, but Play Call and Execution Not on Fourth Down Play
It seems like it happens every week at this point, but once again on Sunday the Bears were faced with a fourth and short situation at a critical moment in the game, and unlike last week when Trestman opted to play conservatively, he went for it this time.
With the Bears trailing 24-14 and on their first possession of the second half, the decision to go for the touchdown certainly inspired plenty of debate, but ultimately, it was the correct call for Trestman to make. Facing an offense that was going to be without Zac Stacy for the remainder of the game, the Bears would be in a good position even if the play ended up failing, and after remarkably little time thinking about it, McCown lined up under center.
Once the ball was snapped, both Dante Rosario and Kyle Long came from the strong side of the formation to hit gaps on the weak side of the line. Long ended up picking up his block, but Rosario cut in too close to Long and ended up running into his back. That allowed Jo-Lonn Dunbar to get a free release through the gap, and Michael Bush was a sitting duck, and was hit for a three yard loss and a turnover on downs.
While Bush was predictably given plenty of grief about the play on social media, the fact is that he had absolutely no chance once Rosario missed his block. Dunbar was on top of Bush before he could do anything to react to it, and that is a breakdown in the blocking scheme that the Bears used on the play.
What is most interesting about the decision to go for it on fourth down was that the Bears opted not to even have Matt Forte on the field for the play. Forte had been running circles around the Rams all day long, and he has shown in recent weeks that he is a viable option to run the ball in goal line situations, but instead of Forte in the back field it was Rosario and Tony Fiametta accompanying Bush.
It was the wrong personnel group for the play, and if Trestman had a do-over, he likely would have taken Rosario out and put Bush there instead.
Michael Bush’s Season Continues Downward Spiral
If one had to pick the worst Bear on the offensive side of the ball on Sunday, then odds are that they would pick Bush for his putrid performance in the game.
Yes, he did score a touchdown in the game, but he ended up with negative-5 rushing yards on seven carries, and that means that in his last three games for the Bears, he has 11 carries for a total of zero rushing yards. His average yards per carry is just 2.1 this season, with his longest carry of the year coming in Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers on a nine yard gain.
Those numbers are just the beginning of the problem. Here’s one from Kevin Fishbain:
This is probably a fair time to mention that on 3rd or 4th and 0-2 this season, Michael Bush entered today with 6 carries for 4 yards.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) November 24, 2013
And another one from Joe Ostrowski:
Update: Michael Bush in goal-to-go situations this yr...9 rushes, -4 yards, 2 TD. #Bears
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) November 24, 2013
That second statistic that Ostrowski tweeted is arguably the most concerning of all. Bush’s performance this year in the goal line situations that he is under contract to produce in have been nothing short of awful, and yet Trestman, a guy who used analytical reasoning for his decision not to call timeouts against the Baltimore Ravens last week, continues to trust Bush to produce in situations that he can’t produce in.
It will be a good day for the Bears when they wise up about Bush’s woes in the red zone this season, and perhaps Forte and Michael Ford will get more looks when the Bears actually need a positive gain.
Josh McCown Still Looks Good Despite Loss
Yes, the Bears lost against the Rams, and yes, McCown threw his first interception of the year in the game’s closing minutes, but it can be argued overall that this was McCown’s best game of the season.
He made plenty of clutch throws, including smart touchdowns to Martellus Bennett in one-on-one coverage and on a great route by Brandon Marshall on another touchdown to the side of the end zone. He also took several huge shots from an aggressive Rams defensive line, and even though he was only sacked once, it was apparent that he was starting to rush some throws in order to avoid the hits that kept coming his way.
Through it all though, McCown did a great job of stepping up in the pocket when he needed to, and he picked up 19 first downs with his arm in the game. He also set a Bears single-game record with 36 completions on the afternoon, and his QB rating of 102.4 is an excellent number for a guy who took as much abuse as he did.
Yes, this is still Jay Cutler’s team when he is healthy, and rightfully so, but with the way McCown has been playing every week in Cutler’s absence, he is putting more zeroes on the contract he will sign with the Bears or another team after the season.