Sunday Recap: A Boring and Uneventful Game

AlshonMeme

Sorry to break it to you, but that all happened. It wasn’t a horrible dream. The Bears really did lose that game.

Through a series of self-destructive events, the Bears managed to beat both the Vikings and the Metrodome itself in what appeared to be a race to implosion, falling 23-20 in their final visit to the Hubert H. Humphrey House of Horrors. The loss leaves the Bears a game behind the Lions for first place in the NFC North, although considering Detroit owns the tiebreaker, it’s effectively a two-game deficit. There’s a lot to get to (including a few bright spots, like the man in the picture there breaking his own franchise record for single-game receiving yards) so let’s jump right in.

  • Much of the focus afterward has centered around Marc Trestman’s decision to attempt a 47-yard field goal with 4:07 left in overtime. The point of contention: he ordered the attempt on second down. Gould missed just wide of the right upright, the Vikings took possession and promptly drove down for their own game-winning field goal attempt, which Blair Walsh converted. Kicking on second down from that far away is obviously a cautious move; it was even more curious when you consider that in the plays leading up to the miss, the Bears had been running it with ease. Matt Forte had run for 24 yards on five carries, and I had hoped the Bears would continue to run it until they either had to kick or Forte crossed the goal line. (Judging by my Twitter feed, I wasn’t alone in my desire.) We have all week to analyze this particular decision (along with many others) and I plan on doing so in a separate post. In the meantime, I’m guessing many of you will be venting your frustrations below.
  • For an idea as to just how violently the pendulum swung, check out this win probability graph from Advanced NFL Stats. I just glanced at it again, and now I’m having some trauma flashbacks. I might need to lie down.
  • An up and down day for Robbie Gould, although in this case the “up” should linger a lot longer than the “down” as he and his wife welcomed their first child early this morning. On the field, Gould actually missed two field goals, one being a desperation 66-yard attempt at the end of regulation that would have set the NFL record for longest field goal. Based on his quotes after the game, he obviously took the loss very hard, but he has bailed out the Bears so many times over so many seasons that I can’t exactly be mad at him. They never should have been in a position that required him to make a game-winning field goal in the first place. There was more than enough blame to go around.
  • Starting with the Bears woeful rush defense. As detailed by Rick Telander in this piece for the Sun-Times (beware a random video that starts after a few minutes), Adrian Peterson rushed for 211 yards on 35 carries, while wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson chipped in two runs for 27 yards and a touchdown. The Bears now sit dead last in the league for rushing yards allowed per game and per attempt, giving up 145.2 and 4.9 in those respective categories. On the season, they’ve allowed 1597 yards on the ground; for perspective, that’s just 30 shy of the 1627 they allowed ALL of last season, and the Bears have four games left on the schedule. If you’re trying to understand how the Bears could go from a top defense to one of the worst in one year, that’s a pretty good place to start. Outside of Jay Cutler, every single one of the Bears myriad impactful injuries has occurred on the defensive side of the ball, with a heavy focus on the interior. If teams can succeed against the Bears with a 1920’s single-wing offense, they’re not going to win very many games. The pass defense wasn’t necessarily better, allowing substitute Matt Cassel to throw for 243 yards and a touchdown. But considering the numbers the Bears were forced to commit to run-stoppage, it’s not surprising there was space in the secondary. Bright spot defensively: the play of Julius Peppers, who recorded 2.5 sacks, eight tackles, and a pass deflection while popping up all over the field. It was a vintage Peppers performance, and he has really come on strong of late following a slow start to the season; his strong finish could make for a very interesting salary cap decision this offseason.
  • Midseason free-agent signing Jeremiah Ratliff debuted at defensive tackle; he was credited with one tackle. The Bears hope that he can stay healthy and stabilize the defensive line, which is a lot to ask of a player that hadn’t played in more than a year. But if his mere presence can trigger a positive chain reaction, it would certainly help. As noted above, it’s not like things can get worse.
  • Especially if the offense doesn’t bail them out. The underlying numbers for the Bears offense were impressive as they totaled 480 yards. Matt Forte ran for 120 en route to 151 all-purpose yards, and Josh McCown had another nice line, going 23/36 for 355, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. But I think the holes are starting to show a bit on McCown. He may not have thrown an interception, and he’s still performing like an NFL starter, not a backup quarterback. But no matter how often Thom Brennaman tells me that there’s a brewing quarterback controversy, I just don’t see it. The Bears made it to the red zone once, and they failed to convert while there; 480 yards of offense doesn’t mean that much when you only manage 20 points. That’s not all on Josh, of course. But he also made one of the ugliest decisions this side of Bad Eli Manning; leading 20-17 at their own 19 yard-line, McCown stepped up in the pocket before being hit low. On his way to the ground, he attempted what I’ll charitably describe as an ill-advised flip pass to Matt Forte (writer Andy Glockner was less charitable on Twitter) that was easily batted back by a defender to poor, unfortunate Kyle Long, who snatched it and attempted to make something happen. (As would all of us, if we were offensive linemen. Moments of glory are few and far between.) Long’s instinctual play ended up costing the Bears when he fumbled on his way to the ground, giving the Vikings excellent field position they would then waste with a Matt Cassel interception. That was the sort of mental error that McCown hadn’t made since he was forced into action. I’m happy for McCown, who by all accounts is a great guy. But give me a healthy Cutler.
  • We’ll close with the biggest bright spot, by far: the play of Alshon Jeffery. Not Alshon Jefferies. Please stop calling him that, broadcasters who are paid massive sums of money to talk about football players for a living. There’s no “s” at the end. (This has obviously bothered me for some time, to the point that I can’t not hear it. I’m apparently not the only one who’s noticed.) Alshon caught 12 balls for 249 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the previous Bears single-game receiving record of 212 yards that had previously been held by…Alshon Jeffery, set earlier this season against the Saints. I said on Twitter that he might be a top-ten NFL receiver, and that was BEFORE he made his ridiculous second touchdown catch, one of the most impressive plays I’ve seen a Bear make. (GIF and video of said catch can be found here.) Later in the week I’ll have a longer post on Alshon’s amazing day and development, but suffice to say, he was an absolute steal of a second-round draft pick.

Much like opposing backs, we’re off and running here on the football side of Bleacher Nation. I’m looking forward to the discussion.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

70 responses to “Sunday Recap: A Boring and Uneventful Game”

  1. Brett

    Sabermetrics! (I think!) on going for the field goal on second or third down: http://www.advancednflstats.com/2013/12/should-you-kick-fg-on-3rd-down.html?m=1

    Spoiler alert: it’s not a good idea.

    1. hansman

      Also not advisable: attempting a 50+ yard field goal in college.

  2. BD

    I’m not used to coming here and getting football info… better get my thinking cap on!

  3. preacherman86

    I am enticed by this new piece of the BN pie. Not sure how it will be done, seeing as game recap will be more involved because games hold a higher premium than individual games in baseball. I am a Bears fan and am glad I no longer have to rely solely on bleacher report for updates. Regarding that flub of a coaching decision…sabermetrics of football certainly do suggest it was a bad call. What’s more disappointing from a coaching standpoint is making a decision that is nearly a win/lose decision. With a defense that has been less capable at their job than Richie Incognito being a morally good dude, and All-Day AP running the D into the ground all day. giving up a short field was a horrible decision. Also, like you said Jay, Forte was killing it too. Bad bad coaching decision, and they all have him, but that was the play that will probably break any playoff hope we had. 2 games out in the division, 2-4 in division play, and no way we catch the loser of the Panthers/Saints race or the Seahawks, Niners. Even winning out probably won’t get us where we would need to be. Disappointing…Mel Tucker, very disappointing. Offense is solid, better than ever before really, Defense needs a dramatic shift…starting at the top.

  4. Matty V

    It might just be me, but I feel like Thom Brennaman(s) is one of the most opinionated non-team play-by-play guys I’ve heard. I’m sure there might be some out there that I’m not thinking of.

    1. Mark

      Joe Buck, that guy should never be allowed in Chicago.

    2. beerhelps

      Thom is worse than warm beer on a hot summer day. Him and his dad can both take a long walk off a short pier.

  5. Mark

    Great post, really excited to get my bears fix here. Welcome Jay!

  6. Adam

    Glad Jay didn’t let McCown off the hook for this one. Besides the ill-advised flip play, McCown could have easily thrown 2 first half INTs. He got bailed out by a drop and an offside penalty. This was the 3rd straight game that the Bears offense started slowly. For the season, the Bears rank 3rd in the NFL in 1st quarter scoring with just under 7 pts per 1st qtr. During the last 3 games, however, the Bears have only scored 3.3 pts per 1st qtr. If you take away 2 huge plays by Jeffery in the 3rd quarter, McCown has a very poor game statistically. In the 4 games he has started, the Bears have averaged 22.75 pts per game compared to 29 pts per game in the 8 games Cutler started. Its time for Jay to return.

    1. On The Farm

      “If you take away 2 huge plays by Jeffery in the 3rd quarter”

      Not saying I disagree with your overall thought, but I disagree with part. I don’t think it’s fair to remove huge plays because if Cutler was playing, and as good as Alshon is, its reasonable to assume that Jeffery would have been just as good of an asset as he was for McCown. I am ready for Cutty to be back too, but I don’t think you can discount McCown’s stats because Jeffery is a freak of nature, because he is the same player no matter who is throwing to him.

      1. Kurt

        Except that Jay throws a much stronger and more accurate ball not requiring circus catches by Alshon, thereby possibly increasing Alshon’s production and the team’s ability to score more often.

        Saw Phillip Rivers get lots of credit over the years because of circus catches by Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, and Malcolm Floyd,whereas the team would have even been better (back in the day) with more accuracy by Rivers.

        Josh is somewhat like that. He doesn’t make his receivers better, they make him LOOK better. He’s a good dink and dunker, manager, backup, etc… but inside the redzone is where his deficiencies become apparent. He’s had two almost 400 yard passing in two games (actually almost 9 quarters of football) which averages 17.8 points per game.

        Lots of awesome personal stats but not a lot of scoring.

        1. Jon

          I almost vomited when the moron Thom Brennaman(who spells Tom with an H) started trolling with the QB controversy during the telecast. There is no controversy. Jay is the starter when healthy.

          I really hate every thing Brennaman, dad and son. Football and baseball. Get off my TV

          1. Kurt

            Brennaman on record for hating the Cubs and their fans so now shock there. If he’s on I mute him

  7. Shaun

    Not too sure I understand the title of this article: “A Boring & Uneventful Game.” Sarcasm? The game was anything but boring and uneventful. It was TOO eventful, if you’re a Bears fan.

    1. Funn Dave

      Yes. Sarcasm.

  8. Looking for a Bears Blog Like Bleacher Nation? How About … Bleacher Nation | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] can check out Jay’s first substantive piece here – what could he possibly discuss after yesterday’s completely boring, and not at all […]

  9. Nathan

    Anyone else notice that when it seems we need a big drive out of McCown he faulters? He has done a tremendous job coming in for Cutler and keeping the team afloat, as Jay mentioned on Twitter yesterday, but when it comes to needing a big drive I don’t think he has gotten it done.

  10. On The Farm

    The transformation of this team over the last two years is just incredible. They went from having one of the league’s best defenses and an offense without anyone for Cutler to throw to (if the O Line actually let him get that far). What’s it look like now? Two top ten WRs, a TE who actually catches the ball (gasp!), an OL that keeps Jay’s jersey clean, and a defense that is becoming a laughing stock of the league.

    Part of me wishes the return of Peanut and Briggs would really help, but the fact is that D Line just isn’t what it used to be (even with the emergence of Wooten and to a lesser extent McClellin). Getting Jay back will be nice, but as we saw yesterday the Bears have the weapons, but it won’t matter if the defense can’t stop Matt Cassel.

    1. Funn Dave

      It really is. The D was already aging, but with Smith out and the offensive-minded Trestman in, decline in defense is that much more glaring. The offense has improved tremendously. Too bad they couldn’t get them both going at the same time :P

      1. Kurt

        Lovie’s defense was a mirage. .311 win percentage against team’s over .500. That defensive unit was old for the past couple of years and everything caught up with them this year.

        Emery will address this in the draft. Still not sold on Tucker, either.

        1. mak

          You can’t ignore the injuries. Say what you want about those Lovie coached teams, but how many times did they get gashed for 200 yards on the ground?

          1. Kurt

            No, instead he would get gashed for 350 yards through the air. Oh, and Adrian would liberally gash Lovie’s run defense.

    2. Andrew

      It’s all about the new system for the O-line. It seems like everyone gets beat regularly on the line but the ball comes out just in time. Also Trestman isnt afraid to bring in an extra lineman pretty often. The O-line is still a work in progress but the system in place definitely gives them a chance to succeed.

  11. jon

    I love what Trestman brings as an offensive savant, but his in game execution is horrible. Kicking the FG(which was 47 yards, NOT A GIMME!) on 2nd down was beyond stupid. You have to beasts of WR’s, use your downs and try and get closer.

    Bears played scared.

    1. On The Farm

      Or they played like they have one of the greatest kickers in Robbie Gould. While 47 is not a gimme shot, Gould has made plenty of money shots. Why not turn to your kicker rather than risk a holding penalty, an INT, or a fumble because you want more yards? Nobody would be complaining if Gould made it today because we are just used to him being money.

      1. Jon

        It be one thing if they kicked it on 3rd down, in case of a botched snap, but Im pressed to think of coaches that would give up two downs, at that distance with plenty of time on the clock. It was stupid.

        But the Bears are a bad team and don’t deserve the playoffs.

        1. cubsfan08

          That’s the #1 point – regardless if they were to sneak into the playoffs or not – their defense is waaaay too banged up to have any kind of success in the playoffs. This just (hopefully) ensures they don’t rush anyone back from injury going forward to do more harm in the future.

      2. Funn Dave

        Personally, I do think it was a bad decision. I don’t have the stats, but I’d assume missing a 47-yarder is a lot more likely than an INT, botched snap, two runs for losses, etc., even with Gould kicking.

        1. Jon

          https://twitter.com/ScottLindholm/status/407506999937482753/photo/1/large

          Gould is 90% from 30-39 yards and drops them to 72% from 40-49 yards. Not to mention a missed FG pretty much seals a loss as you give them great field position and the D cant stop anything.

          Just given up downs there was beyond stupid.

      3. Kurt

        I would. That was just plain dumb.

    2. Funn Dave

      What’s that you’re saying? All I can read is, “sample size, sample size, sample size….”

  12. Funn Dave

    Are the Bears stories going to have even more Twitter references than the baseball ones? If so, I’m out.

  13. cubsfan08

    The only thought process I can come up with to defend the decision to kick on 2nd down from that distance, occurred to the Vikings (can’t remember if it was prior to the Bears attempt or on the winning FG). Sitting in comfortable FG range, they chose to run the ball with AP, against a piss poor Bears run defense. He loses close to 4 yards and makes the attempt longer. There was no chance the Bears were going to pass in that situation, so MIN would have been stacked against the run. Had they simply called a safe run in that situation it is not hard to imagine losing 3-4 yards there now making it a 50+ FG attempt. If the FG was from 43 or 47, I don’t think it changes anything success wise from Gould’s standpoint – so they trotted him out there as they had the ball centered between the hashmarks.

    Then again – why even kick when its not even 4th down. When was the last time someone not named Romo screwed that up? We have the best longsnapper in our history so take 2 more cracks at it and if you get lucky keep driving in for a touchdown. Even if we didn’t score a TD, missed an easier FG, enough time would have come off the clock to basically ensure a tie. Hopefully the entire team learns from it…frustrating as hell.

  14. ssckelley

    To me the game should have never came down to Robbie Gould kicking a field goal in OT, the game should have easily been won in regulation. There were 3 plays in the 4th quarter that stand out in my mind as the turning point of the game. First one was at the 4:12 mark they had 2nd and 1 at the Minnesota 41 and they ran the ball twice for no gain. If the Bears get a 1st down there they practically kill the clock and possibly get into Robbie Gould range to stretch the lead to 6. The 3rd play was at the 1:55 mark the Vikings were 4th and 11 from their own 8 yard line, how does Simpson get that wide open in the middle of the field for a 20 yard gain? The Bears keep that from happening and the game is over.

    1. cubsfan08

      Add 1 more to the list – don’t injure Ponder. Had he stayed in the game, they never would have thrown for 243 yds in the 2nd half. He’s garbage and they refuse to admit it.

  15. Funn Dave

    1:12 and 1:55? What are you studying the game film or something?

    1. Funn Dave

      *4:12, and that was supposed to reply to ssckelly.

    2. ssckelley

      Nope, just looking at the drive charts.

      1. Funn Dave

        Ahh, way to use your resources.

  16. MikeCubs

    I think the CFL has 3 downs instead of 4. Possible Trestman got confused?

  17. George Jetson

    Did I miss a name change by Jay Ratliff? Or is Jeremiah Ratliff an entirely different person?

    1. mak

      Same guy, asking people to call him Jeremiah now.

  18. jh03

    I thought there was a noticable difference in pressure created by the defensive line in the first half. I didn’t notice it as much in the second half, though.

  19. RoughRider

    I haven’t seen many of the games this year but have listened on WBBM. It seems as if once the Bears get a leed they try to not lose rather than play aggressive. Am I wrong ? Is there some unwritten rule that the Bears can’t have a good defense and offense at the same time ?

    1. Jon

      Under Lovie, a defensive minded head coach, the D was great, but the offensive was terrible. They brought in a O minded head coach, and the offense is good, but now the D has gone to crap.

      It seems they can never find that balance of two units that complement each other.

    2. On The Farm

      “Is there some unwritten rule that the Bears can’t have a good defense and offense at the same time ?”

      I believe this is so. You can even look it up in the Geneva Convention.

  20. mak

    Feels like that FG attempt wasn’t even the most damaging decision/play of the game. After the Baltimore game (and other similar scenarios), the Bears need to be going for it on 4 and 1 to win the game (Bears elected to punt and Vikes drove down to tie it — not before having 3 shots from the Bears redzone to win).

    I know this team is bad on short yards. But they’re worse on defense. Way worse.

    And while it’s not a coaching decision, that game was lost on 4 and 11. Killer.

  21. Matt

    Lots of focus on the offensive side of the ball, but ultimately we have a defense that gives up the most yards per game and yards per attempt on the ground in the NFL. Not much more really needs to be said.

    I’m not particularly ready to point the finger at Mel Tucker, either. Losing 6 guys on the defensive side of the ball is eye-popping, staggering to imagine. The fact that they’re even 6-6 is sort of impressive in a depressing way.

  22. Spoda17

    Welcome Jay

  23. Walter Sobchak

    I think in the situation they should have tried to pass on second down and and then perhaps a QB sneak to center the ball and go for the kick on 4th down. At the very least I think another play on 2nd down needed to happen 47 yards is no chipee

  24. Ajbearsfan

    I’ve been a bears fan since 1983(I was 6) and thinking back I can say this has been one of the better offensive minded teams since the 85 bears. We still are missing a good slot receiver and have to shore up the offensive line slightly. Trestman has the team going in a good direction offensively but the d needs a lot of work. Wish livid could have stayed on as the defensive coach. The question I have here is come draft day what do we address first? A qb since this draft is so heavy?(deepest since the 80’s) or go defense only and worry about a slot and shore up the o line in free agency?

  25. Ajbearsfan

    Livid is lovie. Auto correct