Opponent: Houston Texans
6-3 Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)
6-4 Minnesota Vikings
4-5 Detroit Lions :)
Quick blurb before the review of the Bears' game. The Vikings beat the Lions this weekend. That's not once, but twice that they beat them this season. It's been a while since they were sweeping anyone in this division and I'm not sorry in the least that it happened to the Lions. Moving on.
My initial reaction to this game came before it even started. Everyone needs to get the old idea of "Bears football" or "Bear football weather" out of their heads. I lost count of the number of times someone made reference to the Bears having an advantage due to the weather. It's not 1990 anymore! We have some fast receivers who like to make cuts. We have an elusive running back who is good at making people miss by changing direction. We have defensive players who like to play tight coverage using their speed. Remind me again, what part of a slippery field helps these groups? There's a reason a lot of fans (myself included) want Soldier field changed over to turf. One is because it's used for so many events and concerts that wreck the field, but the other is because it'll give our team and advantage by providing better and more consistent traction. Ok, on to the actual game.
I want to start with some BIG props to the offensive line. The Texans are a team built in a similar style to the Bears. They have a monstrous defense led by a fantastic defensive line. We didn't allow a single sack to either of our quarterbacks. Even more impressive than that was the time they had in the pocket. Both quarterbacks had all day to throw. Unfortunately there's that phrase "both quarterbacks" in there. Jay Cutler took a very nasty hit to the head on a play towards the end of the first half and has a concussion as a result. Unfortunately, Jason Campbell isn't very used to running our offense. There were times that he threw the ball away or to a check down for no gain when he had no pressure on him. Hopefully he gets some practice with the starters this week and can be a little more respectable if he has to play next week. Other than that, there were some plays that we messed up and there were several missed opportunities left on the field. A couple of fumbles, interceptions, and missed catches that I'm sure they'd like to have back.
The other part of the offense is the play calling. I feel like a broken record. Mike Tice needs to remove his head from somewhere uncomfortable and start calling a lot more runs. We have 2 very good running backs and we need to use both of them early to get the run game going and open up the passing game. Arian Foster of the Texans had 29 carries. Matt Forte had 16, and Michael Bush had 3. Even throwing in the quarterback rushing attempts, we didn't have as many as that one guy. Also, because I know that Tice is going to use this as an excuse, the Texans only had 6 more plays than we did all game so it's not like they had more plays to go around. It was a wet and nasty game. We have 2 great running backs (yes Bush fumbled once, it happens) and our offensive line is actually really good at run blocking. Those running backs need to be utilized a lot more in the early quarters of the game so that there's a lot less pressure on the QB. Until this changes, we're going to have a lot of problems scoring points consistently. Also until this changes, I'm not going to mention it in this blog anymore. I'm sick of repeating myself.
They held a very good offense to only 13 points. Unfortunately the 2 interceptions had potential to be returned for some very nice yards and one for a touchdown, but they were "called dead" by the refs. The first one I'll agree with, but the second one... Jennings intercepted the ball, and was knocked down by his own guy in the confusion. He got up and kept running eventually getting to the end zone. The refs didn't blow the whistle. Then after the play, they said he was down by contact and that the play had been blown dead... If no one blows a whistle, the play isn't dead. Considering we only lost by 7 points, that one hurt a bit.
For the most part Hester didn't get many opportunities to run and as a result we got pretty good field position from the Texans punting out of bounds. The couple that he did field weren't too pretty. We needed an Eric Weems or a Johnny Knox style of returner last night. With the slippery conditions the returner should have just bolted straight up the field. Every time Hester got the ball, he tried to cut back and forth too much and wasted time when he could have just run up field and hoped that the other guys slipped.
Overall, it was a wet and rainy game. The Texans just ground it out better than we did.