By Bryan Dietzler
The Bears had been playing almost every team tough over the course of the last few games and had made most of their games against opponents close. They went into their game against the Vikings this Sunday with a 4-2 record on the road and it appeared, even though they had struggled in their previous two games it was thought, by some, that the Bears would get back on track against the Vikings and at least play better. This was also a division rival and the Bears had been playing division rivals tough all year.
The Bears started the game against the Vikings this Sunday in their usual fashion. They played slow, didn’t take advantage of opportunities and they struggled to contain the Vikings. Chicago lost the game 38-17 in resounding fashion. The Bears played poorly in all areas except perhaps special teams and showed that they have a long way to go to become a contender. It appears as if this team has regressed from their Thanksgiving night win over the Packers and are actually going down rather than going up. They just keep getting worse.
The following is a look at the five key things from the Bears game that we can consider takeaways about the team. There are some positives but there was mostly negative reaction and play that came out of this game so the Bears don’t have much good to build on. So without further delay, let’s look at the five key things to come out of the Bears game this Sunday against the Vikings.
Good as Gould-Slumping kicker Robbie Gould got on the board finally when he kicked and made a long field goal in this game. It is assured that making the kick helped to boost his confidence and the team’s confidence in him. But Gould wasn’t good with just the field goal. He also executed a successful onside kick to start the second half, which was recovered by the Bears. Too bad it ended up going to waste. Special teams were good for the Bears overall in this game as they got some nice returns and some decent field position. It’s too bad the offense couldn’t take advantage of what was given them.
The Pass Rush was Absent-The Bears got to Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater very little in this game and didn’t get the kind of pass pressure that they needed to get against him. Bridgewater was able to stand back in the pocket and complete throws or get out on the move and complete passes down the field. The Bears had been getting decent pass pressure against opposing teams, even during their losing streak, but failed to get the necessary pass pressure against a less than stellar offensive line. This should have been an easy game for the Bears to get their usual heavy amount of pass pressure but for some reason it wasn’t.
Jay Strikes Again-Quarterback Jay Cutler was responsible for two turnovers on the day (a fumble on a sack and an interception) and it reminded fans that Cutler still has a penchant for turning the ball over on occasion. The fumble on the sack wasn’t really his fault as he was hit hard and hit in an awkward position to cause the fumble so he can, perhaps, be forgiven for that. But the interception was something that Cutler could have easily controlled and not have done. Most of his interceptions this season have been ones that he could easily have not thrown had he had a little more time or thought the passing action through a little bit more. While he has been better this season, Cutler is still making some dumb mistakes.
Alshon Jeffery Out-The Bears receiver didn’t play too many snaps in this game as he was hurt (with a hamstring injury) at some point during the game and taken out. Jeffery did contribute a little in this game with one reception for ten yards and a touchdown but he was pretty much a non-factor throughout. He had been nursing a calf injury during the week and had suffered from an illness, which kept him out of practice so Jeffery was banged up going into this game already. The Bears could have used him to help move the ball down the field better in the passing game (Jeffery has traditionally had big games against the Vikings in the past) and gotten a lot more out of their offense. He has spent most of the season banged up leaving the Bears with a big decision this offseason on whether or not to resign him or let him go in free agency.
Missed Opportunities-The Bears had several missed opportunities in this game that they failed to take advantage of. They failed to take advantage of good field position given to them by their special teams. They had penalties, which wiped out long gains and set them back in field position from which they weren’t able to recover. They had drives stopped by turnovers. All of this helped to lead to the Bears losing this game. They need to take advantage of the opportunities given to them on offense and score points. The Bears just haven’t done enough of that this year and this is a big reason why they are losing games. We will see how they do in their last two games and see if they can take advantage of these opportunities if they are given them.
The Bears played a poor game almost all the way around. They failed to take advantage of opportunities given to them on offense and their defense could not stop the Vikings from scoring points almost the entire game. They allowed a quarterback that had been marginal at best for most of the season (except perhaps his previous game against the Cardinals) look like a superstar and that is something that the Bear’s defense cannot do. They have played better than this for most of the season but seem to be regressing and getting worse. They have come down from their “high” on Thanksgiving night and aren’t playing anywhere close to the way that they played in that game or some of their other games this season.
The offense just couldn’t seem to get anything going especially early in the game. They struggled to score points in the first quarter and repeatedly get behind. The offense isn’t really built to fall behind and play catch up so what has been happening as of late isn’t working for the Bears. The Bears play calling does leave a little something to be desired but it’s hard to call plays when your offense is in third and very long situations. There are many problems on offense for the Bears and play calling, penalties and missed opportunities are some of several that plaque them.
The Bears will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers who have been playing decent football as of late. Ironically, Chicago will be facing its old head coach in Lovie Smith and it’s sure to be an emotional game more for Smith who might have something to prove. This isn’t last year’s Buccaneers team and the Bears may find it hard to score and play tough defense against this up and coming group. Still, it should be an interesting game and one that could be another close one for the Bears.
A full preview of the Bears game against the Buccaneers will be coming up later on in the week.