Hanie's poor play drags down Bears offensive grades

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Hanie's poor play drags down Bears offensive grades

When a team loses four straight, it gets a collective F, particularly an offense that has scored just two touchdowns in the last 12 quarters. No need to say more than that. No area played well but no area was good enough to overcome what was -- or wasnt -- happening at quarterback.

QUARTERBACK F-

This will end the Caleb Hanie Era in Chicago, replaced by Josh McCown with 5 minutes to play.

Not that McCowns appearance changed much; he scrambled on his first snap, completed a screen pass on his second, and threw the Bears fourth interception of the game on his third. Bears quarterbacks were a combined 11-for-25 for 123 yards, one TD and four interceptions.

Hanie turned in another dismal performance, throwing a stupid interception into the midsection of a defensive lineman, who obligingly returned it for a touchdown, and another one too high for his receiver to kill a scoring chance with the ball inside the Seattle 30. A fourth-quarter pass was miserably overthrown and intercepted and returned 42 yards for another Seahawks touchdown.

Hanies first pass was nearly intercepted by a defensive end dropping into short zone coverage. He subsequently wildly overthrew a wide-open Kahlil Bell on a short third-down conversion in the first quarter, a play that originated at the Seattle 38 and cost the Bears a shot at a field goal.

Hanies mis-throws got worse. A poorly thrown pass was tipped and intercepted in the second quarter. That play started at the Seattle 30.

The franchise position that looked at least level after the Oakland game is now in complete freefall.

RUNNING BACK C

Bell made a statement with 65 rushing yards on 15 carries and caught a 25-yard pass for his first-ever NFL touchdown. Bell totaled five receptions to lead all players.

Marion Barber added 33 yards on 11 carries and was unable to break anything longer than six yards. The Bears may not rule out another change at tailback with Bells energy and all-around play.

RECEIVERS D

Johnny Knox made a key third-down catch for a conversion but then fumbled to give Seattle a critical turnover. Knox appeared to be injured badly when hit by DE Anthony Hargrove trying for the recovery. The turnover ended up giving the Seahawks their first TD, with help from a special-teams foul up.

Dane Sanzenbacher had two catches but no receiver was able to do much with the play at quarterback.

OFFENSIVE LINE D

JMarcus Webb was flagged for two holding penalties in the second half and was not effective against Seattles pass rushers, allowing one clear sack being beaten with a counter move to the inside that shouldnt happen. Hanie was sacked four times but it was difficult to determine exactly. He wasnt responding with quick decisions but pressure also was getting on him faster than it should. The run blocking allowed Bell and Barber to combine for 99 yards against a defense that was only allowing 103 per game and the Bears virtually had to abandon the run late.

COACHING B

Game-planning cant be easy when the quarterback in particular cannot deliver key plays and avoid devastating mistakes. The offense was good enough to net 168 yards in the first half and had the ball for 17 minutes. Not enough apparently.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

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I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

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What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.