Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

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Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2010
8:30 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The offense managed just three points against a good defense but missed too many opportunities, particularly on throws by Jay Cutler. In a tight game one or two plays are the difference and the offense that made them the past couple weeks did little of that this time. The defense created chances but had a breakdown or two - too many in a game where there was no margin for error.

Quarterback D-
Cutler had one of his poorer games of the season, posting a 43.5 passer rating that was his third-worst of the year. Cutler wasted a scoring chance when he threw an interception in the third quarter, underthrowing Johnny Knox badly in a situation where anything but an underthrow was acceptable. He was sacked six times but was never in synch with the overall offense, completing 21 of 39 passes for 168 yards but taking 51 yards in sacks.

Running back B

Matt Forte breezed past 1,000 rushing yards in the first quarter with runs of 25 and 21 yards and added a 27-yard reception in the second quarter. Forte added four pass receptions in just the first half and finished with a game-high eight receptions on eight passes thrown to him. Fortes 91 rushing yards came on 15 carries for a 6.1 average. Chester Taylor had limited impact (11 yards) on his three carries.
Receivers D

Rashied Davis made something of his chances with Earl Bennett inactive, catching all four of the passes thrown to him in the first half and finishing with a career-high seven catches for 63 yards. Knox was held without a catch for the first time all season, leaving him 40 yards short of 1,000 for the year. Greg Olsen made several difficult grabs among his five catches but only Davis and Devin Hester (one) caught passes among wide receivers, who were not open often enough for Cutler to get rid of the ball with purpose.

Offensive line D

The group got Forte his 1,000 yards in the first half but struggled against an aggressive 3-4 front that blitzed and sacked Cutler six times for 51 yards in losses. Six different Packers had at least a share of a sack. The line was not able to gain any control of the line of scrimmage to the point of sustaining some offense. The Bears had 8 out of 13 possessions on which they failed to pick up a first down. LT Frank Omiyale was beaten for a blind-side sack in the second quarter but the Packers created some coverage sacks. Cutler, however, did his line no favors by not getting the ball out of his hands.

Defensive line C

Henry Melton shared a sack and provided solid pressure. Tommie Harris sack in the third quarter prevented a TD after a first-and-goal from the one and Harris added a tackle for loss and quarterback hit. But the line was credited with just two quarterback hits overall, although the Packers were limited to 2.6 yards per carry.
Linebackers B

Brian Urlacher had a half-sack in the first half and a quarterback hit. Lance Briggs was credited with nine tackles. Pisa Tinoisamoa was forced to play the full way after an injury to Nick Roach and performed well.

Secondary B

Charles Tillman intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, the latter forced by D.J. Moore. Zackary Bowman got some playing time in the fourth quarter but was beaten for a 46-yard completion to Greg Jennings to set up a Green Bay TD. Tillman and Tim Jennings had pass deflections but Aaron Rodgers threw for 229 yards and had completions to nine different receivers.
Special teams B-

Brad Maynard put two punts out of bounds inside the Green Bay 20 and averaged 45.5 yards in difficult conditions. Robbie Gould accounted for the games first points with a 30-yard field goal. Sloppy punt coverage allowed Tramon Williams a 40-yard return to the Chicago 44 in the third quarter. Hester had punt returns of 16 and 19 yards but Danieal Manning was held to 31 total yards on two kickoff returns.

Coaching B

The Bears were ready to play in a game that meant virtually nothing beyond a tuneup by kickoff time. The defense was aggressive and disruptive and the offense produced four plays of 20-plus yards in just the first half. Execution failed in several situations and the Packers made several calls that went directly into vulnerable areas of the Bears play. But a creditable job of motivation was done in a situation where a letdown was very possible.

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.

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

The Bears have until Tuesday to move their roster down to 75, and they began Sunday by cutting 10 players.

The following players were waived: DL Keith Browner, WR Kieran Duncan, WR Derek Keaton, OL John Kling, RB Senorise Perry, WR Darrin Peterson, DB Joel Ross, TE Gannon Sinclair, OL Martin Wallace, FB Darrell Young

The Bears' roster currently sits at 80 players. After getting the roster down to 75 on Tuesday, the team will then cut down to 53 for the start of the regular season.

The Bears open their regular season on Sept. 4 in Houston against the Texans.

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

The current state of affairs for the 2016 Bears is seriously concerning when, after adding multiple starting players and investing high draft choices, the best that can be said about the Bears defense is that it isn’t as bad as the Bears offense.

A unit predicted to contend for a spot among the NFL’s top 10 this year was pushed around for 378 yards and 23 points in a 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. To push all of it off onto the fact that it was a preseason game won’t work, if only because the No. 1 defense allowed 239 of those yards and 20 of those points in the first half.

One mitigating fact is that the Bears offense hit a new preseason low and was coming back off the field before most members of the defense had had time to look at photos and to hydrate. Five of the Bears’ first seven possessions lasted less than 1 minute 30 seconds. Defensive players usually had time to get water or get with their coaches; not both.

And the defense did stiffen in the red zone, forcing the Chiefs twice to settle for field goals with the ball inside the Chicago 10 and a third time at the 23. And players at least bristled at the suggestion that the Bears are soft. “I take that personally,” said safety Harold Jones-Quartey. "I have never heard that word… . The first time I’ve ever heard anybody call us ‘soft’ is [now].”

Coach John Fox found some good in “the way our defense improved. We got a couple turnovers down in the lower-red area.”

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But those were scant positives in a game that saw Kansas City put together drives of 50 yards or longer five of the first six times it had the football, and those were against the supposed front liners.

The Chiefs drove 53 and 62 yards on their first two possessions, which included conversions of third-and-5 and third-and-14, part of the Chiefs converting six of 10 third downs in the first half. (“Obviously our third-and-long defense wasn’t real sufficient,” Fox allowed.)

Kansas City piled up 106 yards in the first quarter and what defensive “stops” there were might just as easily be credited to Kansas City execution as Bears playmaking. The Chiefs arguably had their initial drive stopped as much by tailback Spencer Ware colliding with blocking back Darrin Reaves on a third-and-short (2) for no gain. A fourth long drive of the half ended only when the Chiefs had a Bears blitz blocked, only to have Smith miss wide open wideout Albert Wilson inside the Chicago 10.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points.

The game, in which starters and first-alternates play the longest of the preseason, had its points of player evaluation. Rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, whose preseason has been marked by impact plays (not all of them good, of course), did generate another in the third quarter with an interception that thwarted a Kansas City scoring drive deep in the Chicago end. This was, however, after he had lost the ball and the receiver on a 58-yard completion the previous Chiefs possession.

And rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard, after missing practice last week to attend to family matters, collected two quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for loss among his three solo stops, according to initial game stats.

But rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has missed practice time with three different health issues since the start of training camp, was limited in practice this week with a hamstring strain, and missed an important opportunity for much-needed work against unfamiliar competition.

“We got a chance to look at some young guys and make evaluations,” Fox said, “and that’s what preseason’s for.”

Best thing about Bears’ preseason loss to Chiefs: 'It wasn’t all bad'

Best thing about Bears’ preseason loss to Chiefs: 'It wasn’t all bad'

John Fox’s hopes for this preseason game No. 3 actually were fairly modest: show improvement. The Bears gave their coach pretty much the exact opposite in a dismal 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, which wasn’t really even as close as that score.

Tellingly perhaps, Fox was moderately damning with faint praise: “I don’t think it was all bad,” Fox said. “It might have looked like that but so do a lot of preseason games.”

And any presumed correlation between Saturday’s woeful performance and how the season may be a stretch. Five of the last six times the Bears have lost their third preseason game, they finished .500 or better, last year’s 34-6 drubbing at Cincinnati being the lone time the game-three result foreshadowed the course of the season.

But Fox was accurate in how the 2016 game-three loss looked. With quarterback Jay Cutler and the No. 1 one offense – or what was healthy of it – played into the third quarter, by which time the Chiefs were leading 20-0, had out-gained the Bears 331-94 and had allowed the Bears into plus-territory just once in seven possessions and with the Bears picking up zero first downs on five of the seven “drives.”

“It was good and bad, like anything else,” Cutler said.

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Concerning perhaps, while not easily quantifiable from a distance, the play by too many players looked lethargic and disinterested, whether it was the cause or the result of repeated breakdowns that killed Chicago drives and extended Kansas City ones. Whether success grows out of confidence or confidence follows from success is a relevant question but one that really doesn’t matter until the Bears have at least one or the other.

“I’ve never had a problem, whether it was all of last year or this year, as far as effort,” Fox said. “Our guys try hard and work hard. Now it’s just crossing that gap to having it happen under pressure. I think with young people sometimes that’s the growing pains. We’ve got the talent to do it. Now we’ve just got to execute better."

Cutler appeared frustrated on more than one occasion, which in the past has been a source of problems. Some of it clearly was with teammates and failed assignments. But this is a young Bears team still in a molten state and frustration, even when justified, can be an accelerant for tension.

This is still only preseason, but the critical trust relationship between Cutler and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is still a work in progress. The No. 1 offense has done less than nothing – 29 total points from 12 quarters of work – other than a brief burst early in New England. History suggests that Cutler is among those who need success to believe in his chief architect, and if Cutler’s attitude is fraying even a little bit, the danger is that it spread without something positive.

“We’ve got a great attitude,” Cutler insisted. “We’ve got a good team. Coach Fox put together a heck of a staff. Dowell and his staff are doing everything possible. Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] is a proven vet… . It’s just up to the guys.”

[RELATED: Bears No. 1 offense moving in wrong direction after three preseason games]

The game was one of the poorer examples of complementary football, with no phase of the Bears – offense, defense, special teams – doing anything remotely setting up another in field position, momentum or whatever. That is unsettling, since it is unusual for a game to be marked by none of a team’s units performing well.

The offense went without a first down on its final four possessions going into halftime. That was capped off by an abysmal final three trips to the line of scrimmage that produced a false-start penalty, incomplete pass to a wide-open receiver and a sack.

The defense, which wasn’t getting much recovery time from those brief series, failed to stop any of the Chiefs’ possessions through three quarters without at least one first down. The Chiefs had six drives of 40 yards or longer and had the ball approaching 30 minutes to the Bears’ 15 through three quarters.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points, but the Chiefs had three different punt returners with at least one runback of 10 yards or longer.

As far as what might be positive in all of that: “It IS preseason,” Fox stated.