Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
7:07 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT For the fourth time in the last seven games and the third in the five wins since the Bears off week, Jay Cutler did not throw an interception. He had exactly four pick-less games in all of 2009.

For the second game in a row Cutler was sacked four times and did not succumb to the pressure and commit turnovers, beyond one excusable one when he was hit and stripped on a sack.

In a game when it was the defense needing the offense to keep the Bears in the game while the Detroit Lions were trampling the defense through the first half, Cutler was fashioning a game with a 117.0 passer rating and taking another step in his development as a quarterback rather than simply a big NFL arm.

In games like this you need your special players to be special, Lovie Smith said. I thought he stepped up and made play after play.

Those plays again were with his feet and head instead of just his arm. Cutler was forced to run five times and netted 10 yards to go with spreading the ball among eight different receivers.

Its starting to get fun for us, Cutler said. The guys arent thinking as much; theyre just out there playing. They know exactly what their responsibilities are. Mike Martz, offensive coordinator is coming up with a great game plan. Hes getting a real feel for what were good at, what were comfortable doing.

Indeed, for the fifth game in row, coordinator Mike Martz called more than 20 runs (the Bears ran a total of 28 times, including kneel-downs) and the Bears rushed for more than 100 yards (114). All Bears wins.

Even with the Lions knowing the Bears were in full ball-control mode when they got the ball with 5 minutes 17 seconds to play, Cutler and the offense were able to methodically run out the remaining time in the game and never allow the Lions back on offense. The Bears ran seven plays prior to Cutler kneel-downs on the last two plays and the ball went to six different players as the Bears picked up four first downs and were never in a third down.

What was working, thats what we went with, said wide receiver Earl Bennett, who led the Bears with 7 catches and 104 yards. We did a great job of moving the ball down the field. And were still streaking.
Head case I

Detroit rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gave the Bears a hand, a forearm actually, to be specific, when he delivered what officials saw as a blow to the back of quarterback Jay Cutlers head on a third-quarter stop deep in Lions territory. Cutler was going down and Suh swung his right forearm at Cutlers head, although he appeared to miss and in fact just shove Cutler to the ground.

No matter, in the officials eyes. Suh was flagged for unnecessary roughness to move the Bears into goal-to-go position, from where they scored the winning touchdown one play later.

I thought it was an unnecessary non-football act a blow to the back of the runners helmet in the process of him going down, referee Ed Hochuli told pool reporter Tom Kowalski from Booth Newspapers and MLive.com. As I saw it he hit Cutler in the back of the helmet.

Suh wasnt interested in behavior modification as a result. What for? he challenged. Honestly to be honest with you sic, I dont care. Im just going to keep playing.

Head case II

Suh, like the Philadelphia Eagles last week, wasnt particularly impressed with the Bears. He did not go so far as to declare, as several Eagles did, that his was clearly the better team Sunday, but as far as he was concerned, the Chicago offensive line was vulnerable, definitely vulnerable, Suh said.

And it appeared to him that the Bears knew they couldnt handle the Lions up front.

In my opinion, in the second half, the Bears came out with a lot of quick passes, Suh said. They came out with a lot of quick passes to null and void us on the defensive line.

Megatron(s)

Calvin Johnsons 46-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the 33rd of his career, the most ever by a Detroit receiver in his first four NFL seasons.

Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril had four sacks coming into Sunday. He had three in less than two-and-a-half quarters vs. the Bears and ran his total to seven for the season

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 54-yard field goal in the third quarter was the longest of his career. He is 3-for-4 from 50-plus this season.

Rev. Jesse Jackson was on hand for the game and a guest in the locker room afterwards, where he was the one giving out the autographs. I wanted to see the game, Jackson said, and Aretha Franklin is here with some friends and we got together.

Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton scored the games first touchdown on a quarterback draw around the Bears defensive right side, then went into a celebration dance, his rendition of The Dougie from rapper Doug E. Fresh and Cali Swag District.

Stantons performance bothered some Bears, but only for artistic reasons. Nah, it didnt bother me, said cornerback D.J. Moore. He was excited. It only bothered me that it was a bad Dougie .

Dubious designation

Being selected as a team captain is an honor, unless youre a Lion. Then its a liability. Among Detroit captains for 2010, quarterback Matthew Stafford has been inactive most of the season with shoulder injuries; defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is battling a neck injury that put him out Sunday; and kicker Jason Hanson went on IR this week with a knee injury. Center Dominic Raiola is the only Lions captain in uniform.

No surprises among Bears inactives: defensive ends Barry Turner and Corey Wootton; guard Edwin Williams; running back Kahlil Bell; cornerback Joshua Moore; linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee); and tight end Desmond Clark.

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 defensive problems vs. Cowboys not complicated (unfortunately)

Bears defensive problems vs. Cowboys not complicated (unfortunately)

That the Dallas Cowboys were able to put 447 yards, almost 200 of them running the football, and 31 points on the Bears was concerning in itself. The way much of it happened, however, was perhaps more concerning, even if not completely surprising.

And the issues were in more than one area.

The rushing yards, of which 140 were provided on 30 carries by rookie Ezekiel Elliott, were largely gained by simply pounding away on an undermanned Bears front seven. The Bears have allowed 10 runs of 10 yards or more; five of those came in Dallas.

The problem was an alarmingly simple one. Not scheme, not missed assignments.

“We were getting blocked and not getting off blocks well enough,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said on Wednesday. “But basically getting blocked most of the time, a guy or two every time was just getting blocked.”

The defense was without linchpin and nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) as well as inside linebacker and co-captain Danny Trevathan. In Trevathan’s spot, rookie Nick Kwiatkoski started and played on 18 of Dallas’ snaps (26 percent).

He did OK,” Fangio said. “Again, he was part of those guys that got blocked some. Had some good plays, some not so good. The first play of the game that popped out of there for 21 yards, he was at the point of attack on that one. It was OK, hope for better, expect better moving forward.”

The Bears use something of a hybrid form of gap control, not strictly two-gap with linemen responsible for gaps on either side of the blocker in front of them, and not strictly one-gap, with a tighter responsibility but with expectations that the defender get more penetration and disruption.

The system is what one lineman described as “gap-and-a-half,” playing their assigned gap but also with responsibility to help out with one other assigned gap. They are not head-up on offensive linemen, being slightly shaded toward a gap a’la one-gap schemes most of the time.

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The Bears generally were unable to control either their assigned or their secondary gaps.

The issues were not confined to the run defense. The Bears’ pass rush was virtually non-existent (zero sacks, one hit on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott) and yet it allowed Prescott to scramble free three times, converting first downs on all three.

“Our rush wasn’t good enough when they weren’t throwing it quick,” Fangio said, “and it was evident by the times [Prescott] scrambled. He scrambled three times for first downs and they hurt us.

“Our rush wasn’t good enough. There are a lot of passes that the rush won’t be a factor because it is coming out fast. But we have to get better coverage to make them hold the ball longer, too.”

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Brian Hoyer spent Wednesday’s practice as the presumptive No. 1 quarterback, sources said, and with Jay Cutler limited due to his thumb injury, the Bears began prep for the Detroit Lions next Sunday in Soldier Field with Hoyer getting more used to the offense that he has only sparingly run since training camp.

Some of Hoyer’s teammates spent Wednesday’s practice getting a little more used to him.

A veteran of 27 NFL starts, Hoyer doesn’t do things the way Cutler does them. He doesn’t throw as hard. He doesn’t throw as far. And he runs a sort-of hurry-up offense compared to Cutler.

“Hoyer has a real good sense of urgency to him,” said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. “He’s more fast paced. He likes to quicken up things, whether it’s the cadence, the flow – he just has a real natural sense of urgency about himself.”

This involves more than just a feeling. The Bears ARE faster under Hoyer, based on one very unofficial measure, because game situations differ even though the Bears ultimately lost all three games.

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Based on snaps and time played, the Bears have run 2.2 plays per minute with Cutler. They have run 2.6 per minute, approaching 20 percent more, under “urgent” Hoyer.

The play rate, however, is not entirely on the quarterback. Like all teams, the Bears build tempos into their system, and defenses also dictate some of how the Bears elect to work.

Still, “Jay is more laid back, more relaxed, even-keeled,” Leno said, smiling. “But that’s just Hoyer, more sense of urgency."