Bears vs Saints: 8 Things We Learned About Chicago from Sunday's Final Score
The offensive line didn't block, the front four didn't pressure the QB, the Bears offense was nonexistent and the Saints defense came to play.
End of story.
Well, not quite. There was a lot to learn from this game, though not much of it is positive in any way if you're a Bears fan.
Meanwhile, give Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his players a lot of credit. They responded very well to the criticism over how they played last week against the Packers.
If the Bears offense plays like this next week against Green Bay, they will be 1-2 on the season, so they need to learn from this game and correct what they can before that happens.
As usual, I'm here to help them learn. Here are seven "teachings" from this game.
Pass Protection Was Awful
One thing we learned on Sunday is that the offensive line problems continue; they have not been solved.
Despite a solid showing in preseason and a good game against the Falcons, the Bears line just wasn't up to the challenge against the Saints.
Cutler was clearly frustrated on the sidelines, and it showed. While he wasn't perfect, I can't blame Jay for the most part.
Saints defenders came in practically untouched at times. Give some credit to Gregg Williams and the Saints defense, but this was not a stellar day for the Bears line.
Look, Cutler got sacked 52 times during the regular season last year and almost got killed again on Sunday in New Orleans. He got sacked six times and was hit many other times.
If this continues, the team has simply got to make changes.
Whether those changes include personnel on the field, like putting in Frank Omiyale or Gabe Carimi at left tackle in place of J'Marcus Webb, who had a brutal game, or something else is the question.
That "something else" brings me to my next point. Read on...
What Happened to That Balanced Offense?
The Bears threw the ball 45 times, while running it only 12 times, one of them a Cutler scramble. I'm no math major, but that is not an equal distribution.
It would be different if the running game wasn't working or if Cutler was getting good protection. But it was quite the opposite, and yet stubborn Mike Martz continued to force the ball down the field.
Sure, once a team is down by two TDs or more, they almost have to pass. So I'm not saying that I expected the end result of Sunday's game to be a 50-50 split between runs and passes.
But even when the game was still in doubt, the Bears were throwing the ball a lot more than running it. Forte gained 49 yards on his first eight carries, yet they stopped running at that point.
They rushed the ball only five times after the first quarter.
Face it, the Martz offense won't work in Chicago without a true No. 1 wide receiver and without blocking. They may not come off the bus running any more, but they need to at least get that bus started.
The Bears Wide Receivers Need to Step Up
Of Cutler's first 32 passes, he was 9-of-12 to the running backs, and only 5-of-20 to the wide receivers and tight ends.
Now, it weasn't all the fault of the wideouts, as Cutler reverted back to some of his old habits under heavy pressure. Some of the balls he threw were off the mark and off his back foot.
Still, there were drops by Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Dane Sanzenbacher, among others. More than half of Cutler's receiving yards through the first three quarters were to Forte.
The Bears need a legitimate wideout, but I am so tired of repeating that all-too-familar refrain. When is the last time they even had a true No. 1 WR? I don't know if they EVER have had one.
It continues to befuddle me as to why Jerry Angelo would go out on a limb to make such a risky trade to acquire a QB while not giving him a real line or any weapons to throw to.
It continues to haunt the Bears. It's insane, really.
Meanwhile, perhaps the Bears miss Roy Williams more than we thought they would. He was out for the game against the Saints.
Injuries to Gabe Carimi, Major Wright, Earl Bennett are a Concern
The offensive line already is terrible, so if Carimi is hurt to the point where he can't go against the Packers, well, the Bears just may as well stay home that day.
Carimi left the game with what appeared to be a right knee injury in the second quarter, just before halftime. He did not return.
Meanwhile, Major Wright was hurt after a head-on collision with tight end Jimmy Graham in the third quarter.
Wright was motionless for awhile, but eventually was up and walking on the sidelines. He also did not return. Craig Steltz replaced him.
Earl Bennett left with a chest injury in the first quarter, and though he came back briefly, he did not play at all in the second half.
ESPN.com reported the following on the status of Carimi and Bennett:
"The severity of Carimi's injury wasn't immediately known, but a member of the athletic training staff escorted the rookie—who walked off the field on his own—to the locker room. Veteran Frank Omiyale replaced Carimi at right tackle."
"Bennett was able to walk off the field under his own power but was taken back to the Bears locker room for further testing."
Bennett's loss isn't as bad as Carimi, as the Bears are already short with Lance Louis out with an ankle injury.
Bears Secondary Exposed
Last Sunday, the Bears pass rush was so good that the secondary was not exposed to a QB with time to throw the ball. Well, this week, a great QB had time to throw and the results weren't pretty.
Brees finished with almost 300 yards and three TDs.
Major Wright was hurt, and Brandon Meriweather is new, but when ready, both need to step it up for the Bears to be able to stop a good QB on days when the pass rush isn't working.
Tim Jennings was beat, but he was probably the best among the Bears d-backs.
The team obviously missed Chris Harris, who was inactive for the game due to injury.
Bears Pass Rush Needs to Improve
I hate to say "I told you so," but the Bears front four simply couldn't get the push that they did against Atlanta. The Saints offensive line was better, and Drew Brees is too good of a QB for that to affect him.
Look, when the DEs can't get consistent pressure, and they can only do so much, you need the pressure to come from the inside. But the defensive tackles just didn't perform as well on Sunday as they did against the Falcons.
Julius Peppers had no QB hits or sacks. Outside of the Idonije sack, the only other Bears defender to get credit for a hit on Brees was Amobi Okoye.
When a great QB like Brees gets time to throw, you might as well say goodnight. And with Aaron Rodgers up next for the Bears, well, it could be an ugly sight if that pass rush isn't better.
Gregg Williams' Defense Responded Big Time
A cornered animal is dangerous. Okay, so the metaphor doesn't quite work when the only "animal" in the team's names are the Bears, but you get the point.
The Saints were in a sort of "must win" position, and they responded.
A team playing at home coming off an opening game loss is hungry. But when that team has high aspirations like New Orleans does—Super Bowl aspirations—well, that is like an animal cornered.
And that animal came out with its claws exposed. The Bears played well and were in this game for a long time, and to be honest were just a couple of turnovers and big plays away from winning.
But the Saints were playing without their top rush end, and a starting WR, yet looked hungrier than Chicago.
The game plan by Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was outstanding. He was under criticism for the way the defense played last week against Green Bay, and they responded.
Bears Need Takeaways
When the Bears defense doesn't force the opponent to cough up the football, the cover-2 really gets exposed. That base defensive scheme is predicated upon taking the ball away, and when that doesn't happen, it doesn't work.
Now, Mark Ingram did lose a fumble, but there were no interceptions. And the Bears defense couldn't get the Saints off the field.
Meanwhile, New Orleans held a 36:14 to 23:46 advantage in time of possession. and they converted on 8-of-17 third down attempts, while the Bears only made 2-of-12.