Offensive concerns exist at season's end

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Offensive concerns exist at season's end

DETROIT The Bears had five possessions reach at least the Detroit 30-yard line in the first half alone and netted just one TD, that with help from a third-down pass interference call against the Lions. The 20-10 halftime margin should have been double.

No better measure of the 2012 woes of the Bears offense needs to be found than the first possession on Sunday when the first possession opened with a 55-yard pass from Jay Cutler to rookie Alshon Jeffery. Then, with the ball at the Detroit 27, the Bears netted just two yards on a first-down pass to Evan Rodriguez, nothing on a second-down run by Matt Forte, and less than nothing when Cutler ran around and eventually dropped the ball, leaving the Bears out of field-goal range.

Throw in a timeout needed to avoid a delay of game flag and a false start on tackle Jonathan Scott and you have the 2012 Chicago offense.

Add to that a fumble recovery at the Detroit 24 on a subsequent kickoff return in the quarter, and the offense getting just nine yards on a three-and-out to settle for a field goal. The result, plus a missed field goal, was the Chicago offense getting exactly three points from three early possessions inside the Detroit 25-yard line.

QUARTERBACK C

Jay Cutlers 55-yarder to Alshon Jeffery to open the game was a perfect throw; his handling of matters immediately after that was something of a mess. But his use of Earl Bennett on a swing pass was good for a 60-yard touchdown, although he too frequently was just treading water waiting for someone to get open and did not get the ball out of his hands quickly enough.

Cutlers decision-making with the game on the line was pivotal. With a third-and-4 he opted for a deep sideline throw toward Brandon Marshall that was incomplete.

Cutler was 4-of-5 in the first quarter; 4-of-10 in the second; 7-of-9 in the third; and 3-of-7 in the fourth. His passer rating of 95.8 was very respectable but misleading. His execution on third downs was poor with the Bears converting just four of 15 opportunities.

RUNNING BACKS A-

Matt Forte showed no ill effects from his ankle injury of last week, rushing for 43 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Forte finished with 103 rushing yards, just the third time this season he has run for 100-plus this season.

Forte also punched in a one-yard run for a second-quarter touchdown and picked up tough yards with 24 total carries in a game where the Detroit front needed to be made to pay attention to the run. Forte also caught both passes thrown to him for 21 total yards, giving him 26 touches for a net 124 yards.

Kahlil Bell provided some light relief with three carries for 12 total yards and was serviceable in pass protection with limited recent experience there.

RECEIVERS A-

Wide receivers turned in two of the Bears three longest plays for 2012 in less than half the first quarter. Alshon Jefferys 55 yards on the games first play should have resulted in points. (It did not.) Earl Bennett went 60 yards with a swing pass on the second possession, showing outstanding speed. Key to the TD: Brandon Marshalls block on two Detroit DBs.

Bennett finished with 109 yards and his long touchdown catch-and-run.

OFFENSIVE LINE B-

Jonathan Scotts false-start penalty on the first possession cost the Bears a scoring shot. Jay Cutler was sacked twice and hit five other times but the O-linemen did not feel their protection was good enough. However, the run game produced some results throughout the game even with too many small breakdowns that cost yards.

COACHING B

Play selection remains a question at times but the commitment to the run was consistent and survived some shaky execution in multiple areas.

Want to be in on Bears QB deliberations? 'Look at the film'

Want to be in on Bears QB deliberations? 'Look at the film'

Back in 1992 the Dallas Cowboys were in draft deliberations around the No. 17 spot of the first round, looking for upgrades on defense. A scout made a suggestion that they target Ohio State defensive end Alonzo Spellman, one of the most physically imposing (6-4, 280 pounds) players and best athletes in that draft.
 
Coach Jimmy Johnson responded, "Tell me about the production."
 
Came back the answer: Three years at OSU, nine total sacks.
 
"Oh, please!" Johnson scoffed, calling in cornerback Kevin Smith and leaving Spellman to the Bears at No. 22. Spellman had several respectable seasons but never more than 8.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
 
As investment advisers counsel, past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. But past performance can be, and an axiom in NFL personnel rooms is, look at the film.
 
CSNChicago.com is doing that as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches (Feb. 29) along with free agency and the start of the league year and its trading window. It becomes an increasingly relevant exercise to look at the intricacies behind some of the key players and positions the Bears will be addressing through the upcoming weeks. CSNChicago.com previously looked at the need to evaluate quarterbacks from the intangible standpoints first, then the measurables.
 
Using Jay Cutler as an object lesson for how immense physical skills have questionable correlations to immense NFL performance, a look at one aspect of quarterback "film" warrants more attention than the measurables that command a disproportionate share of attention and scrutiny.
 
Ball security.
 
It has been Cutler's single biggest issue through his eight Bears seasons, was a reason why coaches once wanted to stay with Josh McCown instead of returning to Cutler following a Cutler injury absence, and why Brian Hoyer played his way into prominence in the discussion of 2017 Bears plans. Adam Gase went from offensive coordinator to hottest head-coach prospect in no small measure because he managed Cutler into better ball security.

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But the point here is less Cutler – expected to be traded or released within the near future – than the level of ball security in the available options beyond Hoyer.
 
So, look at the film:
 
The widespread drooling over a possible trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. The best thing in Garoppolo's favor is that he has been a Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Garoppolo, drawing distant comparisons to a Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and other past experience-lite quarterback options, has thrown 94 NFL passes without an interception, which is impressive until matched against Hoyer's 200 last season without an interception, for comparison purposes.
 
But evaluating Garoppolo against the coming chief draft competition – DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson – suggests comparing apples to apples, meaning college ball security, since that's all the kids have to this point.
 
Garoppolo vaulted up draft boards (to New England's second round) on the strength of an Eastern Illinois senior season with 53 touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions, against chiefly FCS opposition. But in his first three seasons Garoppolo threw for 65 touchdowns and was intercepted 42 times.
 
Kizer? In his two Notre Dame seasons, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
 
Trubisky? 30 touchdowns last season, six interceptions. Including his two years as a North Carolina backup, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
 
Watson? 90 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in three Clemson seasons, the last two as Tigers starter.
 
Observations:
 
Garoppolo put in four college seasons, but has a little of the Trubisky/Flynn/Cassel, one-year-wonder feel. 
 
Kizer and Watson have more starting seasons, but the Watson intangible of getting his team to two national-championship games speaks to another level of "intangible."
 
GM Ryan Pace will incorporate heavy input from coach John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. Coaches love ball security. Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky? Kizer?
 
Look at the film.

BearsTalk Podcast: The risk and reward for Bears in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

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USA TODAY

BearsTalk Podcast: The risk and reward for Bears in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

In this edition of the BearsTalk podcast, CSN's Chris Boden, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Patrick Finley, and CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch discuss the Bears' approach to the two-week window opening to franchise-tag Alshon Jeffery again, the risk/reward in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or drafting a QB (and how high to draft one), Scott's 2.0 mock draft, plus the workers' compensation controversy the team found itself in last week and the club's decision to raise ticket prices.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: