By Bryan Dietzler
The Bears went into their matchup against the Denver Broncos with high hopes that they would come out victorious as head coach John Fox was facing his old team, a team that he knows, and many thought Chicago would be able to pick them apart. They were also facing a new quarterback in Brock Osweiler and sure enough there was to be a learning curve for him and he wasn’t going to be playing all that well. The Bears had been playing some good football lately and things seemed like they were going to play right into their hands. But it wasn’t meant to be for the Bears as they lost to the Broncos at Soldier Field 17-15.
This wasn’t a good game for the Bears in many ways. The offense just couldn’t get anything going against a strong Broncos defense as both the running and the passing attacks could get much going. The Bears only managed one touchdown in the contest and that came late. Chicago couldn’t control the ball and the clock allowing the Broncos to move the ball up and down the field possessing it for a majority of the game. The defense was bad against the run in this game and couldn’t figure out a way to stop Osweiler who had a pretty decent game. Overall this was a tough game for the Bears on both sides of the ball as they just couldn’t pull out a victory.
The following is a look at five things the Bears did or didn’t do against the Broncos on Sunday. There is a look at some individuals who did or didn’t perform well as well as some units as a whole. Final impressions of the game are given at the end of this posting.
Mistake Free-Believe it or not the Bears played a penalty free game against the Broncos. While the Broncos were called for several infractions on the day the Bears weren’t called for any and this is definitely one good thing the Bears can take out of this game. If they can play close to or similar to this in future games they should have some success. This could be the strongest positive that can be taken away from this game.
The Ugly Cutler Returns-Quarterback Jay Cutler had two interceptions in the game, one was clearly his fault and the other, the one where he got hit and the ball came out of his hand, wasn’t so much his fault as it was a good defensive play. Cutler didn’t have any touchdown passes in this game and didn’t throw for a ton of yards as he was missing his best wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery. When he was able to get the ball out he was getting it out pretty well but the defense just had good coverage on his receivers and he wasn’t able to complete that many passes. Luckily the picks he threw didn’t cost the Bears too much but he still made mistakes that could have instead allowed for continued drives and points for the Bears in the long run.
Injury Update-The Bears played this game without Jeffery, as mentioned, and didn’t have Eddie Royal or Antrel Rolle in the lineup. Without Jeffery, the Bears weren’t able to stretch the defense and complete a lot of passes down the field or force the defense to double cover Jeffery and open the way for other receivers. His being out definitely hurt the offense. Rolle was somewhat of a surprise to be out of the game but he had just suffered a knee injury in practice to go along with his ankle injury so holding him out of this game may have been a good idea by the coaching staff. The Bears seemed to suffer a little bit with Rolle out of the lineup because passes were allowed to be completed over the middle and he could have helped in run support. Royal being out hurt the passing game and Matt Forte was out once again in this game. His replacement, Jeremy Langford, did not have that good of a game but it’s unlikely that Forte would have fared any better against this tough Broncos defense.
More Pass Rush?-The Bears got to Osweiler several times in this game but, for the most part, didn’t get to him enough to knock him around and force him off his game. Osweiler had a good game throwing the ball for a player that hadn’t played all that much and part of that was because the Bears failed to reach him at critical times in the game. They did get to him early on a couple of times but overall the pass rush was spotty and didn’t put enough pressure on him. Had they gotten to him more they might have been able to slow him down and Chicago might have won the game.
Run Defense Absent-Despite what the numbers said before this game the Bears had actually been doing a pretty good job containing the run on defense. They hadn’t allowed a lot of rushing touchdowns on the season and they had contained a lot of running backs in their wins. They weren’t able to stop the duo of Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson in this one and the Broncos successful ground game allowed them to hold onto the ball controlling that and the clock. The Broncos came into this game with one of the poorer rushing offenses in all of the NFL and walked out looking like a true running team. The Bears defense has to do a better job of containing the run.
The Bears went up against one of the best defenses in football (if not the best) and a win just escaped them. This, coming one week after they took on one of the better defenses in the league and had their way with them. The Broncos defense did a good job of shutting the Bears offense down but the play calling, as called by Adam Gase, could have been a little better in certain situations. Not having some key players due to injury also hampered things especially on offense for the Bears and caused them problems. Had they been fully healthy this game might have had a different outcome.
The defense had no answer for trying to stop Osweiler and the Broncos rushing attack on Sunday. The newly minted starter was able to easily complete passes down the field as the Bears failed to get a solid and consistent rush on him. The running game tore gaping holes in the Bear’s defense and allowed Denver to control the ball and the clock as a result. The Bears didn’t have enough opportunity or time to possess the ball. Their normally stout defense was shaken up in this game and didn’t recover.
The Bears will play the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving night and hopes are high that they will be able to put up a good fight against this suddenly resurgent team. The Bears will pray for good health in that they get all their players back for this one and can compete well with the Packers. It should be a good game as this is a better Bears team than the one that the Packers faced in the first game of the season.