I picked the Bears to win on Sunday.
I'm not sure what Lovie Smith and the Bears were doing on Sunday afternoon, but whatever it was, I wouldn't call it football.
Every phase of the Bears' game was absolutely despicable, from Jay Cutler down to the kickoff return team.
They might not want to look at my report card, because it's not going to be pretty.
I can't entirely fault Jay Cutler for this loss. But that doesn't mean he can't have any blame, because he certainly can. His line says 26-of-37 passing for 251 yards, one TD and three INT's. You look at that and say it's good and bad. A decent completion percentage and yardage total, but a 1-3 TD-INT ration isn't what you want.
I'll say that only one of the three picks was Jay's fault. The one that was his fault came in the second quarter. Jay was throwing a curl route to Earl Bennett, and the safety was sitting on the route. Jay could have thrown the ball to the outside, where only Bennett could catch it, but no. Jay threw it more to the inside, where the safety made a play on the ball, popped it in the air, and it was caught by the cornerback.
The other two weren't his fault because he has no time to throw, and he's forced to throw off his back foot. I know, you're saying well he could just throw the ball away. Well, if he did on those plays, it's an intentional grounding penalty because he was still in the pocket. A penalty may still be better than the interception, but the fact remains: the talent of Jay Cutler is rendered useless if he doesn't have time to throw. They showed a stat during the game that said last year, he was sacked once every 50 or so dropbacks. This year, it's once every 18 drops. Not good.
He showed his ability during the last drive of the first half, when he actually had time to throw, leading the Bears to a field goal.
Running Backs: C
I'll stand by my statement that the running game's futility is not the fault of Matt Forte. Again, at least not entirely his fault. The offensive line continues to be brutally terrible. We'll talk about that later.
Forte only carried the ball six times for 24 yards, which quick math tells us is an average of four yards. That's fairly encouraging, and I think the Bears being down big early forced them to throw much more than they wanted to.
I gave the average grade because there wasn't much to look at. Let's hope they can run the ball next week against Cleveland.
Wide Receivers: C
For the most part, they played OK. Seven different Bears caught passes, and Devin Hester had the Bears' only touchdown. They continued to show why they are better than people expected them to be.
The negative part was one costly turnover in the first half. The Bears were driving. Cutler finally had a chance to step into a throw, and hit Hester in stride, who then lost a fumble.
Offensive Line: F
What can I say? The O-Line continues to be the worst part of this team. The line picked up right where they left off, getting penalized for a false start on their first play from scrimmage.
Every offensive lineman got beat, and beat badly, at some point or another. A couple of plays that stick out in my head are one where Roberto Garza completely whiffed on a block. The guy he missed went on to pressure Cutler, who threw early and short of his receiver. Another was when the Bears tried a screen, but Olin Kreutz was extremely slow getting out in front of Forte, and Forte was brought down in the backfield.
Honestly, how long can Lovie Smith live with the under-performance of the O-Line? I don't know if there's really anything he can do. The trade deadline has passed, and you have to think that if there were someone better on the sideline, that they'd be in the game right now.
They can always draft lineman, right? It won't be in the first round in 2010, since they gave that pick to the Broncos in the Cutler deal.
Defensive Line: D
The D-Line can thank Alex Brown for earning at least a passing grade.
What in the world has happened to the D-Line? Rod Marinelli was looked at as a genius around these parts, and now what?
Last week against Atlanta, they did a pretty good job of getting penetration and stopping Michael Turner. In fact they held him to just 30 yards.
I think the Bengals took notice, and came up with the perfect game plan. Cedric Benson, who made plenty of news during the week, had what must be the most personally-satisfying game of his career. He rushed for 189 yards on 37 carries and a touchdown.
The Bears' could not get any consistent penetration, and they managed just two hits on Carson Palmer, and no sacks. Palmer consistently had all day to throw, and he made them pay.
Alex Brown continued to have a Pro Bowl season, as he made several really good plays.
The linebacking corps of the Bears may be the most decimated by injuries. That being said, they got Hunter Hillenmeyer back, and he played just OK.
The Bears said they have plenty of faith in Nick Roach, who is filling in for Brian Urlacher at MLB. He got beat pretty badly several times this afternoon, and clearly isn't what the Bears need in their Tampa Two scheme. The defense calls for an athletic middle linebacker who can cover the deep middle. It's a role perfectly suited for Brian Urlacher, but not Nick Roach.
Lance Briggs had a good game, as always.
A bad grade, but it's not necessarily their fault. The defensive scheme they play is not new, and it's not a secret how to beat it. The middle of the field, over the linebackers and underneath the two deep safeties is WIDE OPEN. Every play.
Zack Bowman is not good enough, but still better than the alternative (Nathan Vasher). The safeties are confused, and Peanut Tillman keeps trying to strip the ball, rather than secure the tackle. Tillman couldn't stick with Chad Ochocinco, who had 118 yards and two TD's.
Again, it's not entirely their fault, but they did allow five Carson Palmer TD's, and an average of 9.7 yards per completion.
Special Teams: D
Robbie Gould made a field goal. That's good, right?
This game might be the starting point of the Fire Lovie Smith movement. I'll be the headman.
I'm sick and tired of his no-emotion demeanor. I'm sick and tired of the Tampa Two. I'm sick and tired of the Bears completely and totally misusing Jay Cutler. I'm sick and tired of this offensive line. I'm sick and tired of Ron Turner's offense.
Are we, as Bears fans expected to believe that the Bears' staff did everything they could to prepare for this game? Did they even watch the tape from last week's Bengals-Texans game, in which the Texans laid out a blueprint of how to beat the Bengals?
Let's face it, this team is going nowhere, and I mean nowhere if they keep the status quo. I hope they prove me wrong, but it looks like it'll be the third season in a row in which the Bears won't be playing in January.