Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 3

Opponent: Rams
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 2-1

What can I say about the defense? They were amazing. As I said last week, if there were any doubts as to how effective the D could be, they've been entirely put to rest. Not only is the core of the defense showing up true to form, but the rest have stepped up as well. The secondary is performing beautifully with a pick-6 and another interception to seal up the game.

One player of the defense that I thought really shined Sunday was Julius Peppers. Now, some of you may be thinking, "Isn't that normal for him?", but there was series that truly showcased the caliber of player he is. The Bears had just tackled the Rams for a big loss on 3rd down when Peppers shoved the runner down after the play was over drawing a personal foul and an automatic 1st. It was a horrible time for the penalty as it continued a drive and got the Rams out from being deep near their own goal line. What happened on the next 3 plays? Peppers happened. He was largely involved in stonewalling the Rams on 2 big plays and put a decisive end to their drive. After the game, he was asked about the penalty. His response was that he didn't hear the whistle, and the runner was still trying for forward progress (he was) so Peppers finished the play. Personally, I believe him. Julius Peppers isn't one to draw many penalties, and I think he's been around long enough not to be drawn in or aggravated by chippy play or trash talk. But whether it was deliberate or not, my favorite part is that he didn't throw a fit, or cause any other penalties. He simply took it as it was and did his best to make sure that the Rams didn't get any more yards from his mistake. That's a real pro.

For the wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Last week's total meltdown, I believe, started with Mike Tice. When you have terrible play calling, you put even the best players at a disadvantage. The play calling this week was better. It stil wasn't great, but it was better. There are 2 aspects that I think he needs to address (and Charleen was sick of me mentioning them by the time the game was over).

The first is adapting to what the opposing defense is leaving open. Early on, they were weak against the run and Michael Bush had some great yards in the first half, but in the second half it seemed that they were playing a very similar style to the Bears, they were stuffing the run, but still keeping good safety coverage on our deep receivers. The Bears should have had a field day tossing screen passes to our slot receivers and running backs, since that's where the openings were. I only remember seeing 2.

The second issue is utilizing the players correctly. Michael Bush, Matt Forte, and Khalil Bell are all good running backs. Bush is a great power runner. He runs best when it's up the middle. He can make some good cuts in the open field, but that's not where his strengths lie. Forte and Bell are the more elusive backs. They perform best when running to the outside or for quick screen passes. There were entirely too many times when they were trying to run Bush to the outside and Bell up the middle. Yes the line has something to do with it as well, but you have to know your players and play to their strengths. It's one of the biggest problems Mike Martz had the previous two years and I don't want to see Tice making the same glaring errors.

The offensive line...there really wasn't much to say, and that's a good thing. Tice called a lot of plays where the tackles were helped out by tight ends or running backs, and overall there were no major collapses. Cutler got sacked twice, but I don't think he was running for his life the whole game like he was last week.

Jay Cutler. It's hard to peg his performance. As he said, it's a win and a team effort. Thanks to the defense, he didn't have to be amazing. It would have been nice to see some amazing plays from him (although it was nice to see him scramble for a 21 yard run), but at the same time he protected the ball well and didn't force a lot of throws. He threw one interception, but I don't think it was a terrible throw, just a tip. All in all, not the explosive performance I'd like to see, but it showed an amount of composure that he lacked last week.

So yeah, passable offense and amazing defense (also known as typical Bears football). I'd like to see our offense play closer to their potential, but for now, a win's a win. I'll take it.

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