Monday, September 15, 2014

Bears rally to beat 49'ers ~ random reflections

My first reaction, wow! I had written over at Bears GogglesOn about setting an expectation and the Bears exceeded mine.  They say football is a sixty minute game, but we saw two different games. The first half it was. "here we go again", and in the second half it was "like hell you say".

I am not going to get carried with this win, it is a long season, but there is nothing better than beating a good football team, on the road, on national TV.  So what are my initial thoughts? (I will write more tomorrow over at Bears GogglesOn).

The first quarter felt like I was back in Philadelphia last year, but after that things slowly changed. They kept it close. No matter if it was SF penalties, timely defense  or some decent offense, the Bears hung around. When teams that look over matched but hang tough, you just get a feeling things could turn around. The Bears did that, they didn't fold up and head to the airport.

I know Trestman gets a lot of heat for looking so calm, showing no spark. He doesn't have to, after seeing Mel Tucker go ballistic on the sidelines. For me, it was then that I felt the Bears were going to do something.

Willie Young, what can you say? I said from day one of UFA, sign Willie Young.  He made some stout plays and showed speed we haven't seen from a DE in a while.  Ego Ferguson, is slowly showing why he was drafted before Will Sutton (who played well in his own right).  He held the point of attack consistently, and created some real congestion against the run. Jared Allen, woke up and made a great hit to cause a fumble. I was beginning to think the Bears squandered a bunch of money on another old DE. A few plays doesn't make a season, so maybe it was a flash or has the rust finally been kicked off?

Kyle Fuller, Oh my! It has been reported during training camp that Marshall and Cutler recognized right away, that Fuller was special. It showed last night.  Don't care what anyone says, Conte is the best FS the Bears have, the kid has a huge heart, plays tough and what an interception! By the way, Fuller and Conte lead the NFL in interceptions.  Tough injury for Tillman, tricep, and if it is bad as last season, its over.

The linebackers stepped up, McClellin will never be an all pro, but maybe a serviceable LB as the season progress. Some nice plays from Bostic and Briggs showed leadership. Sorry, DJ looked over matched most of the night. Still the weakest link, but maybe they are heading in the right direction. You know there are some kids that just take longer to get it.

Jay Cutler, what a shot to the chest he took, and it was like a switch went on. No matter what, the dude is one tough hombre.  Jay is still one of the best (Top five ranked) in come from behind 4th Qtr wins. He also leads the NFL in completions with 57 and tied for first with Peyton Manning with six TD's.  Also, that 25 yard gallop was neat.  He showed leadership and certainly out QB'ed Colin, actually schooled the kid.

What can you say about Brandon Marshall? Game Ball! Jeffery, Bennett and Holmes all came through. I know everyone wants to see Alshon get more targets, and he should to a degree, but Brandon has earned the right to be the go to guy. Forte had a tougher night, but he did have so good plays. One thing, boy can the 49'ers tackle! They hit and stick.

Oline was solid. I watched Ola and the kid can play. You aren't going to win every play, but he is far better than Britton. BDLP has taken over center, like I said earlier, I doubt we see Garza again.
Kyle Long got fired up on the sideline and Mills held his own. Bushrod quietly goes about his business.  Kromer is a super OL coach.

Special teams, well they will be interesting this season. Draughn had a horrible night and for a vet almost inexcusable. As the game progressed, they bounced back, but JoeD has loads of work with this group. It should be noted, the Bears basically gutted last season ST unit, so this is a major overhaul.  

So the NFC North is all tied up at 1-1. This was a win to remember, but like Trestman said at his pressie, its back to work. Monday Night football versus the Jets.

Update:  The Bears have placed Peanut Tillman on IR, ending his season and probably his career. Truly a sad way to end a glorious Bear career. Wish Charles all the best.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adam Hoge game review on Chicago Bears

An excellent overview of the Bills game by Adam Hoge

I am also adding a 22 play slide show from Chicago Football.  Great stuff and and enjoy. I will have the Bears v 49'ers keys tomorrow at Bears GogglesOn

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bears lose opener

I posted my game review over at Bears GogglesOn. Take a look and enjoy the other articles as well.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Key to Bears beating the Bills ... one word

Discipline!  That is all what it will take for the Bears to win. Discipline.

That concept will start with the defense.  The Bills will shove Spiller and Jackson down their throats and if Ratliff, Paea and Ferguson stay in the lanes, control the point of attack then the Bills running game can be stifled. Next it will require the linebackers, especially Bostic and McClellin to be disciplined to make their reads and react accordingly to the gaps assigned, then the Bills running game will be stopped.  The DB's in general must show discipline in controlling the middle of the field and force Manuel to go outside.

On the offense, it will take a large measure of discipline to control one of the better Dlines in the league.  Jordan Mills, who has missed most of training camp and preseason will be vulnerable and would expect Michael Ola to rotate in.  Garza, Slauson and Long must road grade the middle for Forte and Carey to get enough yardage to take pressure off the passing game.  The lack of playing time together, Mills not really in game shape, could be a serious issue against the Bills strong front four.  For me, how well the Oline plays will be the key to victory or losing.

Cutler and his receivers.  The discipline will be to be patient and take what is given and develop time consuming drives to keep the defense off the field.  Time of possession and managing the clock with discipline will be a huge element in winning.

Special teams will need to show discipline in coverage by staying in their lanes, making sure tackles and not letting the returners to find seams. This is one area that has been frightening, and it is a game changer. I am less concerned about the return game.  

Key players to watch:

Jared Allen:  He didn't play much in preseason and he needs to set the tone for the front four. His intensity and fiery play will have an impact, especially if he terrorizes Manuel early.

Charles Tillman:  He had a mediocre preseason and will handle Sammy Watkins.  We will find out just how much Peanut has left.

Jordan Mills:  Still recovering from foot surgery and is probably not in playing shape.  He will be challenged early and often. He was the weakest link last season, and Trestman has already indicated he will rotate Ola into the game if Mills tires or is not effective. I suspect we will see Ola earlier than expected.

Shea McClellin:  He is on the hot seat and every move he makes will be watched. He doesn't need to be great but consistent.  Make his reads, fill the gaps and use his speed in coverage, basic play is all we ask. He could be a game changer on blitz packages.

Chris Conte:  He has been cleared to play, and will certainly get his snaps. No one is rooting harder for Conte than me. He is a good safety that had a bad season with a bad defense in 2013.  I look for Chris to bounce back and make a difference. All he needs to do is to play within himself.

Prediction: Bears 24 Bills 13

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Is it Cutler's time?

With Jay entering his second season under Marc Trestman a lot has been written about Cutler having a break out season, being a MVP and leading the Bears to the playoffs.  There is little doubt that Jay has the talent, the determination and toughness to be a top tier QB. We saw this preseason, his leadership abilities shine and that perceived cool attitude be less and less.  But I caution everyone that many factors of Jay's success are out of his control.

1. Defense:  If the defense can't stop the other team, then that means less time Cutler is on the field. Time of possession will be a large determinate on what Jay can do. If he is facing a situation like SEA, then the game plan is changed and will see more passing. That will bring more blitzes and stress on the O line.  We know Jay has one of the best come from behind records in the game, but you can't rely on that week in and week out.  The D has to step up and get Jay the ball.

2. Special Teams:  Its about field position.  Our return game has to give the O and Cutler room to work. Without that. Jay will have his back to the wall and that leads to a predicable safe game plan. In many respects, I find this to be of the greatest concern.

3. The Offense itself.  Cutler does have some bearing on this, but he needs the O line to play better than last season.  So far injuries, illnesses and surgeries have kept them from playing as a unit this preseason.  I am not convinced Mills is our RT of the future. He draws a tough hombre this Sunday and it will be a defining moment for him.  It is critical the run game gets going on a fast track. If it does, the Jay can work the passing game to his advantage. If the O line falters and Cutler has to pass more than he wants, he will get nervous for the blitzes will be coming. This is when mistakes occur and the game changes

If the O line opens the holes then Forte and company will be fine.  The WR need to be focused, catch what's thrown them and avoid penalties. There has been a lot written about how top notch the Bears receiver corps is, and this is the season for them to show it.  What I want to see disappear is the untimely dropped pass.

4. Jay himself. We know he gambles, presses and tries to do too much.  If Cutler stays within his abilities and doesn't lose confidence in his team he will get us through some tough outings.  He will throw interceptions for he will always try to thread the needle, So we accept that, he won't change nor do we want him too. It's all about how Jay perceives the O. If he is feeling good then we are okay regardless of the situation. If he starts to feel things are breaking down, well, Katy bar the door.

Jay in only one piece of a lot of moving pieces, if everyone one around him does their job and does it well, then Cutler could have that break out season.  Remember, a QB is only as good as the players around him. Those players are there, they need to execute.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Briggs, Bostic and the Bears

There has been some chatter over the last day or so about Lance Briggs taking Monday off and attending the opening of his new restraint in California.  I don't see what the big deal is, first off Monday is a walkthru kind of day, Trestman stated there was no Bills game plan work and Briggs has been around long enough to know what is expected.

Lance is getting rapped because in the past Lance has at times looked selfish and seemed spoiled.  In the end though, he was out there giving it his all.  This will be Lance's last season, his contract will be finished, he will be 33 and I think we all agree he is slowing down.  What I do think is interesting is that Jon Bostic played WILL on Monday not Greene.  Many scouts feel that is Bostic true position and if you want to take a peek at the 2015 linebacking group you could envision. Bostic at WILL, McClellin as SAM and Christian Jones as MIKE.

Another comment on Bostic, during Emery's lunch Q & A he spoke about Bostic and referenced the Seahawks game that Bostic missed only one play from the tape.  That he has responded positively to Coach Herring.  While I admit I am getting nervous about our linebackers, I will give it the season before judging.  We will see good games and some not so good games from them, so I suggest we all (me included) need to look at as a body of work not just on one play.

Today the Bears begin preparing for the Bills.  While the Bears should win, for me the real interesting matchup will be the Bears O line vs the Bills D line. The Bills had three Pro Bowlers off their D line last season, and this will give the Bears a good test.  The Bears never got all their starters on the field at one time during preseason, so this will be the first time.

One last comment on the kick off return concerns.  For what it is worth, Perry, Williams and Ford all averaged close to what Devin Hester did with the Falcons this preseason.  Hester averaged 24 and change and Perry was at 24.7 (I use Perry for he is still on the team). I know the Bears have said Spurlock will get the shot, but my gut says Perry will take over as the season progresses.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicago Bears Practice Squad is set, and other interesting stuff

So it's official the Bears have set their practice squad and interesting enough, one of my favorite cornerbacks in the draft, Terrance Mitchell made it.  He was a 7th round draft pick by Dallas. During preseason, he had 14 tackles, one pass defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. At the combine, he had the best 3 cone time.  This is a sweet pick up for the Bears.

The Bears practice squad:  

The Bears also signed 10 players to their practice squad, adding wide receiver Josh Bellamy, center Taylor Boggs, defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, cornerbackIsaiah Frey, guard Ryan Groy, linebacker DeDe Lattimore, cornerback Al Louis-Jean, cornerback Terrance Mitchell, defensive tackle Roy Philon and wide receiver Rashad Ross.

As mentioned yesterday, the Bears did announce signing LS, Jeremy Cain, who had been cut earlier. Last season, Cain was Mannelly' backup. 

Here is an interesting factoid. We all have seen the preponderance of penalties on defensive backs for holding/illegal use of hands or whatever, during preseason. The fascinating thing is this enforcement came from the fact the Seattle Seahawks were mugging wide receivers for the last couple seasons. During the preseason, the starting DB's for Seattle had over 250 snaps, zero penalties! Not one called on the muggers from the Puget Sound.  

Okay, while I am not a big fan of making predictions, I say the Bears will be 10-6 best, 9-7 worst. Making the playoff's will be difficult, so I will say maybe.     

One last comment. We as fans sometimes wonder what management is doing or why the make the decisions they do. During the FA period when bringing in a quality safety seemed to be our number one priority, the Bears never touched Miami's Chris Clemons.  He was rated highly by PFF, seemed to be the perfect fit as FS for the Bears. Chris later signed by Houston and looked like "what the heck Bears" kind of feeling. Well, Clemons got cut by the Texans!  I also noted several other players that many of us thought the Bears should have drafted got cut. Yes, several will hit the PS for those teams, but it just goes to show Emery and his team really do know what there doing. They do get it wrong sometimes, but don't we all?  

Update:  There seems to be quite a bit of gnashing of teeth over the kick off return game.  Like I said before, most of the kickoff's that got returned would have been touch backs in a real game. However, a large group feels the KR team is missing Devin Hester. So I did some checking. Over the last three seasons, Hester averaged 25.5 yards with one TD (2011).  No if you look at the Bears most productive preseason return man, Senorise Perry, he averaged 24.7 yards.  Less than a yard difference.  I realize the sample is small for Perry but it does explain one reason why the kept him.  I will repeat, it is the return game that is the issue, but coverage.