Five Things We Learned: Bears-Rams
Things We Learned: Bears-Rams
September, 23, 2012 8:09PM CTBy Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Here are five things we learned following the Bears' 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams:
1. The demise of the Bears defense has been greatly exaggerated: I was wrong when I said after Week 1 that perhaps the Bears offense would be the strongest unit on the team, bucking the trend of the defense carrying the team since Lovie Smith took over in 2004. The defense won the game versus the Rams, especially the defensive line which sacked St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, 6.0 times, 2.5 of those courtesy of veteran defensive end Israel Idonije. But it wasn't just Idonije in the Rams' backfield, Julius Peppers, Stephen Paea, Amobi Okoye and rookie Shea McClellin were all disruptive on Sunday, and in the previous two weeks we also saw positive things from Henry Melton and Corey Wootton. It's truly been a collective effort and if the rotation continues to be strong behind the starters, that should help out veterans like Peppers and Idonije as the season wears on.
2. Maybe re-signing Tim Jennings was the best move of the offseason: Not to take anything away from Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush or Alshon Jeffery, but bringing back Jennings on a two-year deal in free agency seems like an absolute steal. There is nobody playing better football than Jennings, who recorded his fourth interception of the year, plus had several key pass breaks up: one on a critical fourth-and-1 and the other deflection wound up in the hands of Bears safety Major Wright who returned it for a touchdown. Bears nickel back D.J. Moore said after the game he might buy a ticket to Hawaii and go watch Jennings in the Pro Bowl this year if he makes it. After watching Jennings perform in the first three games, it might be a wise idea for Moore to start pricing out airline fares.
3. The offense is still searching for an identity: What are the Bears on offense? Are they a grind it out running team? Are they a team that is going to beat you through the air? Are they a combination of both? I'm still searching for the answer after three weeks, because if the Bears had played a good team on Sunday, they probably lose and we'd be stuck ripping the offense until the Dallas game next Monday night. On occasion, the Bears, Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Tice get themselves in a nice flow and we see isolated moments of brilliance. However, those moments can be fleeting because there never seems to be any prolonged consistency. You can get away with that when the opponent is a rebuilding Rams squad with a injury riddled offensive line. But what happens when the Bears face another legit club such as the Green Packers that will be able to put points of the board regardless of how the Bears defense is playing?
4. Jeffery is the best No. 2 option in the passing game: Smart move to put Jeffery back in the starting line up and showcase him versus the Rams to the tune of seven targets after he disappeared in Week 2 at Green Bay. Next to Marshall, he needs to be Cutler's second option when the Bears throw the football. Earl Bennett does an excellent job in the slot, but the 6-foot-3 Jeffery has proven to be a difficult assignment for defenders on the outside, even though the rookie had a bad drop early against St. Louis. Jeffery does need to get stronger, but he knows how to play the position after he dominated his second year at South Carolina in the SEC. If Cutler fires that fourth quarter high pass in the end zone to Jeffery, instead of Devin Hester, the Bears score a touchdown rather than settle for a field goal. Believe me, it wasn't a good throw by Cutler, but the beauty of having big receivers like Marshall and Jeffery is they clean up the quarterback's mistakes. I have a feeling that as time wears on Cutler will start to appreciate Jeffery more and more.
5. Bush is an adequate replacement for Matt Forte: The hope is Forte returns from his ankle sprain soon, but in the event he misses more than just one game, the Bears are in pretty good hands with Bush and Kahlil Bell. Granted, Bush isn't Forte, but he runs hard throughout the entire game. Frankly, I like that Bush has a chip on his shoulder and is desperate to prove to fans he's more than simply a short-yardage back. Motivated players tend to be the most productive. There is no doubt that Bush played better than his final numbers of 55 rushing yards and 18 receiving yards might indicate, plus he's a proven threat on the goal line when he carries the ball. Although I disagreed with Bell's decision to refuse a pay cut in the preseason, he's a good player who the Bears are lucky to have on their roster. Besides his ball security issues and somewhat inflated sense of self worth, Bell is the kind of guy you want because he goes hard every single time he touches the football. Can't say that about everybody in this league.
Last edited by Riczaj01; 09-24-2012 at 09:37 AM.
1) For all the laughs that come his way for the 0-16 season, give our DC some love, Hot Rod after 3 years has gotten this DL turned into a well oiled machine...Tice on the other hand is still struggling; of course the major difference is the attention given to the DL is the exact opposite of the attention given the OL. Big name FA Peppers, Kept big time player Izzy, attention in the draft at all levels, Melton, Paea, McClellin Wooton, OL, no legit FA help, early help in the draft, but largely ignored, and missed on one of those early picks(CWilliams). The rest of that goes on Tice he has shuffled these guys instead of just letting them learn one posisiton. But Hod Rod has kept these guys in the same area to learn and b/c experts at what they do.
2) This. Jennings has been an absolute stud, and if he continues to play like this, the Bears well may want to extend that 2 year deal.
3) They are both, but they need to get the run established first.
4) I'll again pat myself on the back on this one; I said in pre season that this big bodied go up and get it WR was going to be a great 2 for us, and no one was going to get a chance to get 1K yards outside of Marshal. But this was not a kid that was going to struggle his first year. Alson 9 rec's 142 yards 1td. Bennett 6 rec's 82 yards, Hester 2 rec's 27 yards(I will admit I thought they'd try and get him more involved a few times a game, still think they are working on that but I could well be wrong). Jeffery is the only one on pace for 700+ yards...I still believe Bennett and Hester will get into that area also, but no way was Bennett or anyone else getting 1K yards.
5) Yep, the problem is not the huge dropoff from Forte to Bush(it's not that huge) it's the dropoff from Bush to Bell that creates problems.
If we can have the ability to do both then we are a much better team. Exploit what the defense is giving you. Our passing game is going to improve week by week, and ultimately will be a formidable weapon to go with our Forte/Bush weapons.
3. The offense is still searching for an identity: What are the Bears on offense? Are they a grind it out running team? Are they a team that is going to beat you through the air? Are they a combination of both?
This is going to be really cool to watch. We won't be a one-dimensional team. We will have a solid defense, special teams AND offense. And on offense we will be a team that can hurt you with the run or the pass. The offense can exploit an opponent defenses weakness each week. Pass or run.
But I think we need to be patient with this offense. It will take time to hit its stride. But it's coming.
Last edited by JustAnotherBearsFan99; 09-24-2012 at 12:40 PM.
Trestman - Kromer - Tucker - DeCamillis
I'm looking forward to seeing these guys coach. Hope they're good.
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Exactly. Balance. Play action doesn't work if you aren't a threat to run. Screens work best when they aren't the first option in the passing game.
Originally Posted by Riczaj01
What we need to do most is not force it to Marshall all the time. Sure, on a critical 3rd and long, but spreading the ball around and making each skill position someone to watch is what makes offenses a true threat week in and week out.
Winston Churchill: "Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak."
"If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."
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Yeah, I would say that our offense is going to come into itself and be a ton of fun to watch.
I think everyone is getting used to the new changes, the rams defense isn't bad (its actually good) and without forte we were able to move the ball against them.
I think that we will mold into a smash it down your throat with bush, slash B and C gap with linemen moving laterally with forte and then go for blood through play action kinda team. Mix in some quick hitters and capitalize on one on ones when teams bring an extra in the box an we SHOULD have a good looking offense.
Our inability to finish drives dosent really worry me, I think not having a fresh bush to bring in and bang away inside the 25 hurt us and the pass to devin was just a matter of an inch to short and a second too late, that will come
Cutler started looking for other recievers than Marshall after he took that arid shot into a true double on that third down play and Jeffery really showed he can thrive when flying under the radar
(that long ball I think he could have caught but would have been a tough grab, I think he makes that catch next time though)
Lastly I thought our o line gave us enough reason to not hit the panic button for another week. It's no secret that we are much better at run blocking than pass blocking and that showed with some real nice holes and big blocks yesterday. As much as some of us hate the guy, Webb had some nice mauling blocks in the run game and didn't look like a complete idiot in pass pro either
Next week will define us I think. No secret we suck a fat one in prime time and we also suck against teams with a good pass rush.
If we are going to do anything this year we need to show it next week in Dallas
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For once we have some talent on offense that CAN improve.
In years past I felt like we would peak very early in the season and then we were really no threat because teams had too much film on us, and they were able to take away anything that worked well.
This year, it seems like we might be able to win some games on talent alone. That is the biggest optimisim that I carry.