By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears came into their game against the New York Giants with little hope. They had been crushed the week before by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and they weren’t that good of a team honestly. The Giants came into this one on a four game winning streak and were playing well on both sides of the ball.
Would it be possible for the Bears to come into this game, play well and knock the Giants off? Anything is possible in the NFL. It seems that on every Sunday, teams start off on equal footing and you can never easily predict a winner. It’s called parity.
When it was all said and done the Bears did play at least a little better this week than they did the previous week. They still lost to the Giants 22-16 though. The game had the same mantra that other games have had this year. Play well in the first half, take a sharp dive in the second half and suffer many critical injuries.
The Bears started the scoring off in the first quarter on their first drive of the game. Quarterback Jay Cutler hit tight end Zach Miller on a 19 yard touchdown pass. The kick failed so the Bears were just up six at that point.
The Giants moved the ball effectively on the Bears defense with their first possession (following the Bear’s score). New York used the no huddle offense which wore the Bears down and kept them off balance. The Giants capped that drive with a two yard run by running back Rashad Jennings. Ironically, former Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould missed the extra point. The game was tied at six.
Chicago would go up 9-6 following a 40 yard field goal by Connor Barth.
The Bears would jump a few more points ahead in the second quarter as running back Jeremy Langford reached the end zone on a one yard touchdown run. That would put the Bears up 16-6.
The Giants would tack on a field goal, this one a 46 yarder by Gould, to make it 16-9 going in at the half. Ironically the Bears would score their only points of the game in the first half.
The second half belonged to the Giants. New York would tie the game on a nine yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Will Tye. Chicago could not answer the score or their next or subsequent possessions. The Giants would take the lead shortly after the tying score when Manning hit Sterling Shepard for a 15-yard touchdown. That put it at 22-16 and with no scoring in the fourth by either team, that’s how it would end.
The Bear’s offense started out the game well and surprised a lot of people with the way that they played. They got their running game going and Cutler was off to a decent start. But as has often been the case this season, it all fell apart in the second half and the Bears, for the eighth time this season, lost.
Cutler had a few decent moments but overall, his performance was less than stellar. He put up over 250 yards through the air but couldn’t connect on several key passes. Then he threw the game “killing” interception which has been his mantra at times. It’s been a mix of Cutler and the play calling game in and game out. I would suspect that both Cutler and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains won’t be around when this season concludes. It is time for the Bears to start over.
The wide receivers were missing their best player, Alshon Jeffery but did catch some balls. They struggled in the second half though as pass pressure and ineffective play by Cutler caused the passing game to break down. One player that did have a good game was tight end Zach Miller. He caught the Bears only passing touchdown and had some a couple other nice catches. But Miller won’t be donning a uniform any longer this season as he is out with a broken foot. That is a big hit to the Bear’s receiving corps.
Running back Jordan Howard had a decent game on the ground in the first half but really struggled catching the ball. He had several passes thrown his way and he missed on many of them. We also saw what has become a consistent thing with Howard and the coaching staff. You would see Howard to start and then he would disappear for a while. Some thought he was injured but for some reason the coaching staff was keeping him out of the game.
The running back who is a better receiver than the rest, Jeremy Langford, did score a touchdown. He may see some more passes thrown his way the rest of the season thus also seeing more time because of his ability to catch the ball. The Bears did start to move away from the running game after they fell behind later in the game and that hurt. Chicago needs to keep running the ball to take control of the game and at least have a strong shot at winning. But the coaching staff does not do this.
The offensive line came into this game with some players missing. Kyle Long is out for the season and Bobby Massie missed the game with a concussion. By the end of the game they were down Josh Sitton and thus had their problems protecting Cutler. They were very good blocking the running game early on but as the game moved along, the line wore down. They had a big hand in helping the Bears lose this game.
The defense was a little bit shaky most of the game. They had some good stops and made a few good plays but they just gave up too much on the ground and through the air. And, once again, they didn’t get much help from their offense. That has been consistent all season.
The line was without Eddie Goldman as well at Mitch Unrein. They had some pressure on Manning but didn’t get any sacks. Akeem Hicks was neutralized well and no one else could get up the field effectively. That lack of pass pressure made it possible for the Giants to complete some critical passes and move the ball down the field effectively keeping the ball out of the Bears’ hands. This killed Chicago.
The linebackers had a decent day but they did allow some runs to get to the second level and surprisingly didn’t do as good against the run as they had done in for most of the season. The Giants were able to get some decent runs but they did only rush for just over 100 yards. Statistically it wasn’t that bad but on the field, it was not that good. It was good to see the Bears big free agent acquisition, Danny Trevethan, leading the team in tackles and flying all over the field to make plays. He is coming along well this season despite being quiet.
The outside linebackers, Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd didn’t get to the quarterback in this game. After all the talk that McPhee put forth leading up to the game, he couldn’t back it up. He, nor the Bears, did what he said they were going to do. And poor Floyd, he hit his head on his teammate (Akeem Hicks) and left the field on a cart. He is in the concussion protocol now.
The secondary was hit with some injuries during the game (Cre’Von LeBlanc and Tracy Porter were hurt) and without help from the front seven (rushing the passer) Manning and his crew were able to connect on several key passes. One thing you can credit the Bears secondary for doing well was taking the Giant’s number one receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr. pretty much out of the game. He didn’t have an impact at all.
Safety play was a little bit better than usual and one factor for that could have been that the Bears had rookie Deon Bush start over Harold Jones-Quartey. Bush played nicely and didn’t make any mistakes. Adrian Amos also played a decent game. This might have been the best safety play Chicago has gotten all season. But It just wasn’t enough to help them win.
Special teams were ok for the Bears despite the windy conditions. Granted, Barth missed an extra point and a field goal but return teams were good as was punting and punt coverage. I have been a little critical of Pat O’Donnell this year but he’s not that bad of a punter except for his average. The Bears got a good day out of most of the special teams and have something to be proud of there.
The coaching staff continues to befuddle people. It’s clear that John Fox and his staff do not know how to come out, strike at the heart of a team and take control. They don’t know how to “step on the throat” of an opponent and finish them off when they have the lead. They don’t know how to hold a lead or how to try to come back after they lose that lead. After so much success with other teams, Fox is having nothing positive happen to him here.
Only two coaches on the team are worth their weight this season. Special teams coach Jeff Rodgers and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are those two coaches. They have a lot going for them and who knows what will happen at the end of the season. It would be ashamed to see them go if there was a purge. In this game, their coaching shined through but a lack of depth and execution (especially on defense) cost them a more complete game.
We are now just starting to hear about the aftermath of this game from an injury perspective. Miller is lost for the year with a broken foot and Floyd could be out for a while with a neck injury. The biggest “killer” of all is that it appears that Cutler has a torn labrum and will miss the rest of the season. (At this time his missing the season is not official) The injuries just keep on piling up for this team.
This is the worst season in recent memory for the Bears’ and their fans. This game was a very good representation of what this team has been through in 2016. Injuries, lost opportunities and poor execution. It was all on display for the Bears this past Sunday.
The Bears return to Chicago to face the 5-6 Tennessee Titans this holiday weekend. Tennessee played their division rival, the Indianapolis Colt, last Sunday and lost. The Titans boast such offensive weapons as quarterback Marcus Mariotta (who almost came to the Bears last year in the draft), tight end Delanie Walker and running back Demarco Murray. Their defense has some decent talent on it as well
This could be an interesting game.
The Bears will be without several players in the short and long. Cutler appears to be out for the rest of the season (reports are conflicting), Jerrell Freeman was suspended for PED use (four games) and Leonard Floyd is going through concussion protocol. Add these guys on top of the rest of the ever-growing list of injuries and there are plenty of players missing.
There is news that cornerback Kyle Fuller could be back for this game. That would be a big boost to the Bears secondary.
This writer will be at the game in Chicago this Sunday and will have a full report of the game following its conclusion. Stay tuned.