Before I get to the bullets, which are necessarily stocked with reaction to yesterday’s heartbreaking 33-28 defeat to the Packers, I wanted to look forward a bit; it’s never to early for next year. (Many of you come to Bleacher Nation for Cubs talk; you sadly know exactly what I mean.) After the conclusion of the Cowboys-Eagles matchup, which ended with a Kyle Orton interception, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweeted the opponents the Bears will face next year, both home and away.
New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Buffalo, Miami, Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay
Atlanta, Carolina, San Francisco, New England, New York, Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay
The NFC North plays the AFC East and NFC South next year, while the Bears second place divisional finish meant that they’ll play the second-place 49ers and Cowboys in their remaining games. (For example, had Detroit defeated the Vikings, the Bears would have finished third, meaning they would have played the Giants at home and visited the Cardinals.) The NFL schedules are fairly well-mapped out into the future; if you’re curious, you can find the Bears schedules through 2019 here (minus the results-dependent matchups, of course.)
If you want my quick early opinion, the AFC East was not a good division this year, (no AFC division was “good” really; the Bears went 4-0 against the AFC North after all) but the NFC South is a tough draw. At least the Bears avoid a trip to the Superdome.
- First up is ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg, who breaks down the Bears defensive breakdowns.
- His ESPN Chicago colleague Michael C. Wright writes that Jay Cutler played well in the defeat. I’d agree with this; he outplayed Aaron Rodgers all day, throwing for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns before an interception on the game-ending Hail Mary. I’m not one to buy into the “big game performance/clutchness” way of thinking, but if you do believe in that, you can only be encouraged by his performance. (I just saw a player who has played well all year continue to play well.) He racked up a QBR of 88.8, and he finishes the season 8th in the NFL in that metric, ahead of Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, and others. Wright thinks Cutler will be back, and I tend to agree. When that will happen, though, is something I can’t predict.
- CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge checks in, describing how fitting the defeat was for the Bears. He touches on a couple of the same plays I will be breaking down this afternoon. Adam also notes that the Bears allowed a staggering 6,497 yards this year; 521 more than their previous franchise record for yards allowed.
- The Daily Herald’s Barry Rozner has his own recap, including comments Brandon Marshall made after the game in which he predicted that Cutler would be back. Marshall obviously says a lot of things, and while he himself admitted that he had no inside info as to the Bears plans, I think it’s safe to assume he does have insight into what Cutler wants to do. If Jay is motivated to return and the Bears are motivated to bring him back, I think a financially reasonable deal is quite possible.
- Finally, Rich Campbell had a nice summary of Matt Forte’s game. Forte played quite well, rushing for 110 yards, tacking on 47 receiving yards, and scoring 2 touchdowns. He also had some Madden-style jukes in the open field. He’s very deserving of his Pro Bowl nod; hopefully he can stay healthy for a few more years, as he’s a dynamic weapon and a perfect fit in Trestman’s offense.
Oh, and I missed the Pro Bowl announcement; the Bears had two representatives, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall. I was surprised that Alshon Jeffery didn’t make the cut, but he might still make it as players pull out due to injury. (Which happens every year.)
I have a lengthy look at yesterday’s game coming this afternoon, if you can stomach it.
But I also want to say how much fun it’s been writing about the Bears this season. Thanks for reading. I just wish I had a playoff game to preview.