Chicago Bears vs. Houston Texans: Good, Bad and the Ugly in Bears' 13-6 Loss
Look, it's one thing if the offense isn't pulling their load, and the defense is having to jump-start the scoring most of the time. But even when the offense isn't moving the ball or scoring, it at least needs to limit its mistakes.
But Sunday night, the Bears didn't do that. In fact, they turned the ball over four times in the first half alone. Yes, it was an ugly first half for Chicago, yet it started the second half down only seven points and entered the fourth quarter with a 10-6 deficit.
Somehow, the Bears remained in contention despite shooting themselves in the foot. With the loss, especially at home, the rest of the football world will be saying that the Bears haven't beaten anyone good, and so, they will not get any respect.
Among other things I'm thinking about after the game:
Cutler's protection was adequate in first half
Look, Cutler had a bad ballgame, plain and simple. I've long been an admirer of his, so I'm certainly not a hater, but sometimes, you simply need to call a spade a spade. And tonight wasn't one of Jay's better performances.
But I thought it looked as if Cutler was suffering from cobwebs in the brain after that hit where he threw the ball past the line, and it turns out I was correct. Cutler had a concussion and missed the second half of the game.
The pass protection wasn't perfect in the first half, but it was good enough. In fact, neither team had a sack until the Bears dropped Matt Schaub in the fourth quarter. However, the execution by the Bears offense was lacking. Mistakes, bad QB reads, wide receiver drops, etc. all contributed mightily to this loss.
Jay ran the ball well, but put himself in harm's way unnecessarily because he refused to slide. I'm sure the fact that his toughness was questioned following the NFC Championship game bothered him more than he let on, but someone needs to inform him that we know he is tough and he doesn't have to keep proving it.
Meanwhile, Cutler's teammates didn't always help him out. In the first half, there were drops, the biggest one being Brandon Marshall's drop of a ball in the end zone where he was clearly interfered with, yet should have caught the ball.
Devin Hester is not a wideout
I know, we've been saying it for a long time now, but it really showed in the first half on Sunday night when Cutler took some deep shots downfield, but Hester simply wasn't up to the task.
In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that we could be watching the beginning of the end of Hester's Bears career. If he doesn't return kicks or punts for TDs any longer and isn't much help as a receiver, it is conceivable the Bears could look to part ways with him, as hard as that may have been to believe in the past.
Kellen Davis just isn't working out
If I were Phil Emery, I would seriously consider releasing Kellen Davis or look to trade him if he has any value on the market. Even a late-round draft pick would be fine. Otherwise, he is gone after the season unless he improves.
He doesn't block well, and he isn't a weapon catching the ball. When will Chicago join the rest of the league in discovering that the tight end position can be used for receiving the football? When Mike Martz was here, he was blamed for not wanting to throw the ball to the tight end.
Yet even now, with Martz out and Mike Tice in, Tice hasn't felt the need to throw to the tight end, and the reason may be that he doesn't have anyone that can get open and catch the ball.
How long will Cutler be out?
Sometimes, the QB can come back the week following a concussion, but normally, he misses at least one additional game. Let's hope that Cutler can come back next Monday night at San Francisco, or it will be an even tougher task for Chicago.
Having said that, I do believe that the Bears can win with Jason Campbell at QB. But I would prefer to have Cutler despite the fact that when he left the game, he had completed just 7-of-14 passes for 40 yards and two interceptions. That's a passer rating of just 16.7.
Tim Jennings is a beast!
Whatever happened to suddenly transform Jennings into an interception machine is a mystery to me, because he was in Lovie Smith's doghouse last year for failing to get takeaways.
But starting with an interception in the last game of the 2011 season, Jennings turned that part of his game around. Jennings had always been a good tackler and a decent cover man, especially for his size, but now he is a ball hawk too.
If it wasn't for the season that Charles Tillman is having, Jennings would be getting more attention around the league. His two picks in the first half helped keep the game close.
Jason Campbell looked OK
It may not be fair to evaluate a QB who hasn't started a game in such a long time, but the fact is that Emery went out and signed Campbell to avoid the disaster that happened when Cutler went down with the broken thumb last season.
I applauded the signing, and on Sunday night, it was apparent that Chicago is in better hands than it was last year without Cutler. Campbell has been a successful starter in the league, and on Sunday night, he was called on to play the second half and impressed at first, but could have made better reads on those last couple of drives.
The play-calling was odd all night, and especially so on that last drive. But Campbell didn't really shine in that role either, although it was his first extended playing time of the season, so we should cut him some slack.
Matt Forte couldn't get going and lost faith in Bush after the fumble
It was as if the two teams changed uniforms and didn't tell us because the Bears couldn't run the ball and couldn't stop the run. When the Bears can't get the running game going, it puts too much pressure on the passing game, and we know that despite the presence of Marshall, the Bears passing offense has been poor.
Meanwhile, I thought the Bears should have used Forte more for catching passes out of the backfield on screens.
Michael Bush had a nice 11-yard run in the first half, but fumbled the ball, so he wasn't given another chance until the fourth quarter.
In the first half, Houston ran at will against a Bears defense that isn't supposed to be able to be exploited like that.
In the second half, everything changed. Houston didn't do much on offense, and the Bears did a little better. In the end, Adrian Foster pounded the rock 29 times for 102 yards. Forte had 16 carries for just 39 yards, and Bush finished with 34 yards on just three attempts.
Too bad the Bears didn't trust Bush enough to give him the ball much after the fumble, because he started looking good in that fourth quarter.
Bears did a good job on JJ Watt
Yes, the Bears did a good job chipping, providing extra help and doing everything within and just outside the rules to stop all-world Watt, who has been the best defensive end in the game this year.
In particular, Gabe Carimi played better than he had most of the season, although his hold on the Bears' final drive hurt. And I must give props to J'Marcus Webb, who had help, but did a decent job on Watt throughout the night.
McClellin also concussed
Shea McClellin left the game after the opening kickoff with a concussion even before Cutler went out with the same injury. They say two heads are better than one, but two concussed heads don't help a football team.
If he is out for any period of time, they will miss him as a pass-rushing specialist on third downs. No, he hasn't had a ton of snaps, but he has been valuable as part of that rotating group they send in and out of games to maximize their talent.
But one man's loss is another man's gain, and the injury allowed Corey Wootton more playing time.
Third-down efficiency wasn't good for either team
For the most part, neither Houston nor the Bears were very effective in converting third downs. Both teams had passes dropped and mistakes made on third down. And both defenses tightened up in those positions.
The two teams combined to go just 5-of-27 on third down.
Still waiting for that Bears offense we were promised
I know it's unfair to mention this on a night when the weather conditions were bad and Cutler went down with a concussion. But any time this supposedly improved offense wants to start doing something, that would be fine with me.
Speaking of waiting, how long do we have to wait for Hester to finally break a return for a touchdown?
Danieal Manning came back to haunt his old team
Manning forced a fumble and had a pick against his old team. It figures because I'm sure he wanted to show the Bears that he still has game.
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