Bears-Redskins: Five things we learned
CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned following the Chicago Bears' 17-14 loss to the Washington Redskins.
[+] Enlargehttp://a.espncdn.com/photo/2010/1024...esmith_200.jpgRob Grabowski/US PresswireLovie Smith's Bears needed to stack a few wins against beatable foes such as the Seahawks and Redskins before their schedule gets tougher.
1. The quarterback/receiver relationship is hurting this team: It really doesn't matter who ends up taking the blame for Jay Cutler's disastrous four-interception outing versus Washington. The problem lies in the fact that offensive coordinator Mike Martz is unlikely to stop throwing the football, so if this disconnect between the quarterback and his receivers continues, the Bears are in serious trouble. Cutler has now thrown at least four interceptions three times since arriving in Chicago, hardly the type of results the Bears expected for a player given a lucrative contract extension. Cutler was brought here to win games, not lose them. But to pin everything on the quarterback is unfair, especially since it looked like Devin Hester and Johnny Knox each played roles on a few of Cutler's picks. Again, it doesn't matter who falls on the sword, it only matters if the Bears can correct these problems. We are now seven games into the Martz era, and the Bears look to be heading backwards. Shouldn't they be improving at this juncture of the season rather than regressing?
2. The defense put the Bears in position to win: As usual, the Bears defense did enough to squeeze out a victory. Not only did D.J. Moore score a touchdown on a 54-yard interception return, but the defense forced two other turnovers, and had another Moore score wiped off the scoreboard because of a penalty. What else can they do? Ryan Torain rushed for 125 yards, but Donovan McNabb was sacked twice and finished with a 56.8 quarterback rating. When you consider the ridiculously good field position Washington had for most of the afternoon, the guys on defense have nothing to be ashamed of. All the Bears needed was a decent offensive showing, and they would be sitting at 5-2, not 4-3. What a waste.
3. Pisa Tinoisamoa and Israel Idonije keep showing up: Frankly, I'm surprised to see Tinoisamoa credited with only three tackles in the press box stat book. The linebacker appeared to be all over the field, and he delivered a huge hit on McNabb on a blitz. With Lance Briggs missing last game and most of the Redskins matchup, Tinoisamoa and Brian Iwuh have more than picked up the slack. Pressed into duty again Sunday, Iwuh had two tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble, proving again the Bears have excellent depth at linebacker. After a quiet game against Seattle, Idonije made several impact plays in Week 7, registering a sack and batting down two passes -- one of which was caught by Moore and returned for a touchdown. With Julius Peppers failing to make much of an impact the past two weeks, it's great to see Idonije pick up the slack from the other defensive end position.
4. The Bears wasted two golden opportunities: Here is why the Bears are kicking themselves despite being above .500. They just lost two home games to NFC opponents they should have beaten. I'll argue the Bears have more talent on their roster than Seattle and Washington, but dropped those games solely because of sloppy execution and turnovers. This is the part of the schedule the Bears need to stack wins. After Buffalo on Nov. 7 -- a game the Bears should win -- the remaining schedule includes two dates with the Vikings, road matchups with Green Bay and Miami, and home games against the Jets, Eagles and Patriots. Do you see the problem? If the Bears don't reach the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, look no further than these last two defeats as the reason.
5. Earl Bennett is the Bears most trustworthy receiver: If I'm Cutler, I'm throwing the ball to Bennett in critical spots. Bennett is the most technically sound wideout on the roster. He rarely drops a pass, runs a bad route, is in the wrong spot, and almost never fails to break off a route when Cutler is under pressure. Hester, Knox and Devin Aromashodu have all made their share of plays in 2010, but something about Bennett screams consistency. And the Bears need consistency on offense. There have been way too many up and downs this year. Martz should find a way to get Bennett about 8-10 targets a game, because if does, I have a strong belief that Bear would be a better offense.