View from the Moon: Are Bears ready for playoffs?

View from the Moon: Are Bears ready for playoffs?
January 3, 2011, 3:30 pm
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Monday, Jan 3, 2011
9:18 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Cleaning out the notebook the morning after...

The one thought persisting through the attempts to assess what Sundays 10-3 loss at Green Bay means is that it may be exactly what the Bears needed: a swift shot to the chops. Or at least one side of the ball does.

The Bears continue to demonstrate that they are one of those teams that has more trouble coming off a good win than a bad loss. And this, for the offense in particular, was a bad loss. Dont excuse this as simply a game that didnt matter and players just going through the motions accordingly.

Lovie Smith playing the starters throughout was the correct call for a number of reasons, including one perhaps unintended. The performance of his offense should dispel any notion that Mike Martz, Jay Cutler, the offensive line and anyone this side of Matt Forte is really ready for playoff football.

On the very positive side, the defense held the ninth-ranked scoring offense (25.2 ppg.) to 10 points and eighth-ranked yardage generator (363 ypg.) to 284.

But as he did in too often 2009, Cutler stops being a quarterback and reverts to being a passer and a not very good one at that. Never confuse arm strength with judgment and throwing an interceptable pass from the opposing 24-yard line with your team leading 3-0 and your defense working on a string of five straight possessions not allowing a very good offense to cross midfield.

Perhaps more concerning should be the direction that the hand on the tiller steered the vessel.

First, it is somewhat misleading characterize Martz as a balanced offensive thinker because the Bears had more runs (238) than pass plays (231) over the previous eight games. That run total included 33 runs by Cutler; does anyone really suppose that Cutler was hearing Keeper in his helmet headset all those play-calls?

More to the point, the protection (and Cutler himself) allowed the quarterback to be sacked four times in the span of 11 plays in the third-fourth quarters. Against a blitzing defense, Martz was writing checks that his blockers couldnt cash.

Yet as he did in the New York Giants debacle that cost him Cutler for a game and a half, Martz kept throwing in spite of Forte and Chester Taylor combining for 65 rushing yards and 7.2 yards per pop in the first half.

A family member just leaned in and asked, Who do we want to root for next weekend in the wild-card games?

My answer is that it doesnt matter. As the Bears themselves have said, it really is all about what they do. Or as was the case Sunday, what they dont do.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

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