The Bears Autopsy
We witnessed one of the most unbelievable Bears losses in recent history on Sunday. I still can’t believe Chicago blew that game to Detroit 34-30. How did it happen? There’s plenty of blame to go around. We’re going to detail all the blame to get to the bottom of the disaster this week in our “Bears Autopsy”.
Top 5 Goats from the 6th Straight Loss
5. RT #74 Germain Ifedi – RT Germain Ifedi played a decent game. He helped the team rush for 140 yards, their second highest total of the season including David Montgomery’s 72 yards and Cordarrelle Patterson’s 59 yards. However, with just 1:54 left in the game and the Bears facing a 3rd down on their own 17 yard line, Ifedi let his man #95 Romeo Okwara strip-sack Trubisky. Compounding the problem, Ifedi didn’t pounce on the fumble which could have salvaged his bad block. Instead, the Lions recovered on the Bears seven yard line and then scored the go-ahead touchdown.
4. LT #72 Charles Leno – The Right Tackle Ifedi had that huge gaffe, but on the other end of the offensive line, the Left Tackle had problems of his own. With 8:39 left in the game as Chicago was leading 30-20 and looking to close out the Lions, the Bears faced a 2nd and 1 at Detroit’s 37 yard line after a nice 9 yard gain by RB #32 David Montgomery on 1st down. Montgomery got another carry for four yards which would have resulted in another 1st down. Instead, LT Charles Leno was called for holding. What are offensive penalties? They’re drive-enders, Alex Trebek. 2nd and 11 turned into 3rd and 4 which turned into a 4th down punt with 7:29 left. If Leno doesn’t hold there, maybe the drive continues, leading to another score for Trubisky and company. If nothing else, they would likely run more of the clock down. A second mistake by Leno occurred on the next Bears possession on 3rd and 4 from midfield with 5:30 left. Leno barely touched Lions DE #98 Everson Griffen who sacked Trubisky on a nice spin move. Leno is a Goat because he was directly responsible for ending two Bears drives that could have resulted in the Bears putting the Lions away.
3. CB #33 Jaylon Johnson and/or SS #38 Tashaun Gipson – We know Jaylon Johnson is a rookie but we can’t let his bad play on Sunday be forgiven just because he’s young. All day he looked confused, along with the Bears secondary including the safeties and slot corners like #24 Buster Skrine on Johnson’s right side of the defense. Many, many times Johnson was caught defending a zone, an area that had no receivers to cover. Sometimes Johnson would be closely covering a WR and then would let the receiver separate if he cut inside towards the middle of the field. I don’t understand why Johnson refuses to cover a guy if he’s not technically in his zone. I know it’s a scheme thing but just make plays. For example, look at the touchdown by Marvin Jones with 2:18 left to make it a one score game, 30-27. Johnson looks like he’s passing off Jones to a safety, yet there’s nobody else behind Johnson. It’s unacceptable by the coaching staff to let this continue. Talk to your players in practice and on the sideline! On this day, we need to blame DC Chuck Pagano for his most commonly utilized scheme against the Lions. He went with zone coverage most of the game except for nine snaps in single-high man coverage and seven snaps in Cover-2 man. Outside of those 16 snaps, Pagano ran Cover-3 zone or split-safety zone most of the game. It was obvious to a casual viewer that Stafford should attack the zone near Johnson who looks confused or lazy. I have a hard time believing Johnson is lazy. It only looks that way when he is constantly near a wide open receiver making big catches in his area. Maybe Gipson or Skrine could help Johnson but for some reason they weren’t getting it done on Sunday. They didn’t make adjustments or communicate effectively, either on the field or on the sideline. As it turned out, it cost the Bears the game.
2. HC Matt Nagy, OC Bill Lazor, and the decision to pass during late game situations – For the most part, the passing of the torch from Nagy to Lazor on play-calling has worked. The Bears look less predictable, have thrown it more downfield, and have run the ball more often and for more yards. However, late in this Lions game, they decided to pass the ball when they should have run the ball to both run out the clock and minimize the chance for a turnover. With 2:13 left, the Bears were nursing a 30-27 lead. On first down, Montgomery rushed for 3 yards. Detroit let the clock run down to the 2 minute warning. They still had 3 timeouts left. On 2nd and 7, Trubisky was in shotgun and looked to pass before tucking it and running for a gain of three to make it another dreaded 3rd and 4 at the Bears 17. Detroit used their first timeout with 1:54 left. I would prefer if Lazor/Nagy ran the ball on this play. You might convert it, and even if you don’t, you’d make Detroit use their second timeout with about 1:45 left. Then you could punt it past midfield and force the Lions to get into a game-tying field goal attempt. But as you know from above, Germain Ifedi let Romeo Okwara sack Trubisky, forcing the game-deciding fumble and touchdown. Lions RB #28 Adrian Peterson punched it in for the 34-30 lead, and that was all she wrote… or was it?
1. WR #12 Allen Robinson – “OH NO! I need to run out of bounds prior to the sticks or else the fallen defender may tackle me in bounds!” C’mon man! What was Robinson thinking? On the potential game-winning drive, Trubisky was moving the ball with short passes to Montgomery and TE #85 Cole Kmet (season-high 5 catches for 37 yards and a TD on a beautiful misdirection play that every OTHER NFL team has used for decades). With just 22 seconds to go from the Lions 24 yard line, Trubisky threw a pass to Robinson on 3rd and 5. It was a quick out comeback route towards the right. The chain gang referee was clearly on the 19 holding the sticks. For some reason Robinson ran out of bounds on the 20. Let me repeat, he “ran out of bounds”. I mean to say that he wasn’t forced out. The defender didn’t even touch A-Rob. Instead, Robinson CHOSE to go out of bounds early. The sticks were right there in front of him! How did he not see this? I have talked to my son extensively about this play for a couple days now. I claim that if Robinson cut back inside rather than outside that he may have even scored if not gotten around the defender and then out of bounds. I say this because when you study the film, we can see the Lions had a single-high safety. No other defenders were even on Robinson’s side of the field. Robinson should have tried to make a play. Even if he was tackled inbounds, Chicago still had one timeout left. As you know, the proceeding 4th and 1 play from the 20 with 16 seconds left was stuffed as the coaches decided to hand off to Montgomery from a shotgun formation. By the way, why not call a QB sneak? It was all about converting on 4th and 1 so that Trubisky would get the proceeding couple of passes to the end zone to win the game. It didn’t happen, so Robinson gets our #1 Goat for this disastrous loss. If he makes a better play here, we think the Bears would have gone on to win the game 37-34. Who knows, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered but nonetheless, if Robinson converts Chicago would have pressured Detroit with several chances in the red zone to win the game. Sad!
Last week we picked the Bears to win big over Detroit by a score of 27-12. We wrongfully assumed Chicago’s defense would be fired up and ready to go. Plus, we thought Mitch Trubisky and the offense would perform well. So we were half correct. We almost nailed the Bears point total perfectly, only missing by a field goal. However, the defense scuffled all afternoon trying to stop Matt Stafford and the Lions passing game.
Chicago Bears 5-7 (A six game losing streak is depressing.)
Dutch Lion 10-2 (We still lead all of the Chicago Tribune‘s Bears writers. Dan Wiederer is 9-3, Colleen Kane is 8-4, and Brad Biggs is 8-4.)
I’m glad we called out these “Goats” because they deserve to be criticized for their mistakes, just as we often praise them for their successes. They are professionals. Their performances were poor, as noted, but it was obviously the entire team and coaching staff that failed this past week. The Bears have no one to blame but themselves for their performance Sunday. They lost five games in a row before this game anyway, so it wasn’t just one bad week. Sure, these collapses happen to most teams at some point, but hopefully not during a five game skid. Now that it’s a six game losing streak, where do the 5-7 Bears go from here? I’m not sure, but we’ll be back in a few days with our preview of the Bears game vs the Houston Texans. Until then, Godbless.