Recapping the Chicago Bears' First 2009 Loss

JamesCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Cullen Jenkins #77 and Aaron Kampman #74 of the Green Bay Packers sack Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears on September 13, 2009 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-15. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

If you're reading this, you may be wondering why I went with such a pessimistic title. Well, frankly I'm not sure what else to call it.

For many Bears fans, all of the optimism and hope for this season seemed to vanish in one fell swoop as the Bears lost in a heartbreaking fashion in the waning moments of a nationally-televised game to their most-hated rivals. Really it doesn't get much worse than that.

It's hard to look at this game objectively when it feels like the entire NFL (especially your old quarterback and his new head coach) is laughing at you as your brand spanking new franchise quarterback who was oh-so-hyped just laid a massive egg in his first real game in a Bears uniform. But objectivity is the only way to keep hope alive for Bears fans.

The team can't afford to lose their heads and despair either. After all, there were some things to be glad about in this game.

First and foremost, the Chicago pass rush seems to be on the way back as the defense delivered four sacks and added multiple quarterback hits and hurries.

Most of the Bears' naysayers figured Aaron Rodgers would pick apart the Bears' suspect secondary all night long, but for the majority of the game, he never had a chance to do so because of the constant pressure he was getting from Chicago's previously non-existent pass rush. Thank you Rod Marinelli.

However, on the downside, Tommie Harris showed us all once again that he is not the same player he once was. Harris came no closer to sacking Rodgers Sunday night than Al Michaels did.

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However, on the upside, rookie safety Al Afalava delivered a strong performance including one sack in his NFL debut. As I expected before OTAs evan began, Afalava has found his place on this team by playing with a kind of physicality and awareness that is reminiscent of a young Mike Brown.

However, the secondary was also a major problem for the Bears. Personally I was furious at the outset of the game when I realized that Nate Vasher, and not Zachary Bowman, was starting at cornerback opposite Charles Tillman. And just as I anticipated, Vasher delivered for the Packers, blowing his coverage on what turned out to be the game's deciding play.

As far as injuries go, I don't think we can say for sure how great of an impact any of the nicks and bumps will have for the Bears until we know how much time each player will miss. All we can do is hope that the God of X-Rays and MRIs is smiling down on the Bears this week.

I won't knock anyone involved in the fake punt foul-up for two reasons. First, all Bears fans must realize that Dave Taub and his special teams units have delivered so many huge plays to keep this team in games, and that sooner or later, there had to be a mistake of some kind. Nobody's perfect after all, but Chicago's Third Phase comes a lot closer than most teams'.

Secondly, the mistake only cost the Bears three points, and if you consider the fact that the Bears really lucked out on Mason Crosby's missed field goal early in the game, you have to come away with the understanding that the Bears broke even on special teams Sunday night. 

Now that I've covered the Bears' defense and special teams, I guess I've procrastinated long enough and I'll get down to the nitty-gritty of addressing their pitiful offensive performance. 

Much will be made of Jay Cutler's four interceptions and his inability to capitalize twice in the red zone at key moments of the game. But to me, the blame for the offensive struggles needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Bears' offensive line and their offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

I don't think I'm overstating when I say that the Bears have enough offensive weapons to win without asking Cutler to throw the ball deep more than a handful of times each game.

The offensive line was supposed to have been upgraded from last year's squad, with three new faces starting, including a first round draft pick from 2008 and a future Hall of Famer in Orlando Pace. Sure sounds like an upgrade to me over John Tait and John St. Clair, but where's the beef?

The key statistic from this game that should be at the forefront of everyone's mind this week in practice is that Matt Forte averaged a measley 2.2 yards on 25 carries. Make no mistake, the Bears' inability to dominate the line of scrimmage on offense throughout the night is the most telling issue in this loss.

With a better running game, Cutler's night would have gone much smoother and you can be sure that the Bears would have had some more success in the red zone. There's just no denying that.

Chicago needed to win up front, and they couldn't get it done, plain and simple. It won't get any easier for them either, as they must now face the vaunted Steelers defense, face Minnesota's Williams brothers twice, and lest we forget, the next time the Bears face Green Bay, their first round draft pick B.J. Raji will probably be in the middle of Capers' defense, not watching in street clothes. Ouch.

Lastly, I've come to the Bears franchise quarterback. Simply put, Jay Cutler needs to regain his focus and put this performance behind him. Maybe he needs to chalk it up to having no film of Green Bay running Dom Capers' new defense.

I don't think there's a valid excuse for throwing four interceptions in a game, but I don't think Cutler should dwell on this game either so if that means making excuses for Sunday night's debacle, then so be it.

Leading the Bears to victory against the Steel Curtain next week would go a long way to regaining the trust of Chicago's faithful.


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