The first half of Sunday’s game went well for the Chicago Bears, all things considered. They were running the ball effectively, their passing game was on point, and even though their defense was struggling to contain Aaron Rodgers and his assortment of passing weapons, the Bears were still in the game.
As soon as the clock started on the second half, however, everything went flying out the window. The Bears ended up dropping a 38-17 decision at Soldier Field, and with the loss came the usual cavalcade of blaming everyone and everything wearing an orange “C” on their person.
We have plenty of time to get into the gritty details of what on Earth went wrong for the Bears in the game, but to get the morning started off on the right foot, we’re instead going to focus on three positives that the Bears can take away from the game.
Run Game Finally Shows Life
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Bears’ running game was non-existent. Yes, they are a pass-first team because of the myriad of weapons at their disposal, but their near total abandonment of the run game in those contests had all the makings of a point of concern for the team.
Going up against one of the league’s weakest run defenses on Sunday, the Bears needed a big day on the ground, and they got it despite the loss. On the day, they ended up rushing for 235 yards against the Packers, with Ka’Deem Carey racking up 72 yards and Matt Forte blowing his previous high for the season out of the water as he scampered for 122 yards on the ground.
With two offensive linemen still missing and a poor track record up to this point, it was good to see the Bears actually get the ball moving in that area of the game, and their dominance of time of possession in the first half is a good habit to get into as the Bears continue to slog through a tough part of their schedule.
Run Defense Still Stout on Otherwise Dreadful Afternoon
Eddie Lacy is one of the best up-and-coming running backs in the NFL, but against the Bears on Sunday, he looked rather pedestrian as he ran for 48 yards and averaged 2.8 yards per carry in the Packers’ victory.
Despite missing Jeremiah Ratliff in the game, the Bears have continued to get good stopping power up the middle on their defensive line, with Will Sutton, Ego Ferguson, and Stephen Paea doing some good work in that department. The linebackers are also jumping in to make plays when necessary, and even though they struggled in the pass defense game on Sunday, they did keep their gap assignments on runs.
The Bears’ depth at defensive tackle is a great asset for this team, and even though it isn’t ideal to be putting Sutton and Ferguson on the field so much early in their careers, it could have a long-term benefit as they get more experience in the league.
Trestman Rolls Dice at Right Times
You can criticize Trestman’s game plan in the second half, but the bigger issue facing the Bears in that frame wasn’t the plays themselves; it was the execution by the players on the field.
We’ll delve into that more in other columns, but this one is about the happy stuff, so we’re going to focus on the decisions Trestman made that were savvy. Going for the onside kick in the second quarter ended up costing the Bears 19 yards of field position, but it was a smart gamble at a time that the Bears’ defense wasn’t showing much resistance against the Packers.
The offense was clicking on all cylinders, and it’s highly unlikely that the Packers were expecting the Bears to go for the onside kick. Even though the play didn’t work, the gamble was worth it in the grand scheme of things, and it didn’t really cost the Bears much to do it.
The other decision Trestman made that ended up being the right call was to go for the first down on a 4th-and-1 play in the first quarter. The play nearly blew up in the faces of the Bears when Jay Cutler fumbled the snap, but he picked it up and ran it for 16 yards. At that position on the field and with the Bears’ offense largely clicking at that point in the game, trying to extend the drive was the right move, and it ultimately paid off as the Bears scored a touchdown.
Those moves were both really smart for the Bears, and while Trestman occasionally will leave fans and pundits scratching their heads, these were two gambles that were well timed.