And now Vikings will want to get licks in after viewing whipping 49ers delivered
Scouting the Bears
6:19 p.m. CST, November 21, 2012
Are you tough?
That's what guys want to know in the NFL. You want to really compliment a pro ballplayer? Call him "tough." It is the highest degree of praise you can receive in my opinion.
Forget stats here. Passing yards? Touchdowns? Sacks? Nah. That's fantasy football stuff. Save it for the box scores, happy hours and the quick break at the water cooler.
In this league, you will be judged on your toughness. The ability to hit, tackle and block. Take a punch to the mouth? Get up and hit back. It's part of the drill.
I didn't expect the Bears to travel west Monday night and come home with a victory against the 49ers. That's a complete team under Jim Harbaugh. And it's not easy to win on the road versus top tier competition unless you play your best.
But to see Lovie Smith's squad get pushed around, beat up and blown off the ball?
In fact, they looked, well, soft.
That shocked me. It really did. That Bears team was lifeless at times before a national audience. There was a lot of lazy football when it comes to technique and footwork — the basics of the game that you practice in mini-camp.
Throughout the week I have listened to opinions on adjustments or scheme changes the Bears could have made during the game in San Francisco. That sounds good and makes for a decent discussion, but tell me what the Bears could have drawn up on a chalkboard that would have saved them?
Different blocking schemes? Coverages? Blitzes? Come on. You can't make adjustments with a helmet constantly under your chin for four quarters.
That game wasn't about scheme or X's and O's. Nope. It was about toughness and the ability to win matchups at the line of scrimmage. The same matchups that exposed the Bears, their offensive tackles, defensive front seven and the safeties in the secondary.
It had to be a rough week watching tape at Halas Hall. It always stings as a player to re-live a nightmare game. You start to sweat, squirm in your seat and brace for the worst when the lights go dark in the film room.
Hey, the tape doesn't lie. When you play poorly, lack execution and get whipped throughout the night, it's easy to spot.
Even in a game in which the Bears were outplayed, making some corrections off the film is crucial to the final stretch of the season.
But that game tape also is out there for everyone to see.
Right now, the Bears don't look so scary when you hit the "play" button. Forget the blowout victories over the Titans and the Jaguars. Those are in the past and games the Bears were supposed to win because of the talent gap.
That won't be the case Sunday.
Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and the Vikings are watching the tape from Monday night, taking notes, putting together a game plan and preparing to attack the Bears the same way the 49ers did.
Play physical. Win up front. Hit the quarterback. Run the ball.
A simple plan, really. But that's what the Bears should expect after they laid down in a marquee matchup against Aldon Smith, Frank Gore and Patrick Willis.
And until they can make the corrections and put some quality football on tape, the rest of the NFL is going to come after them.
Sadly, Bowen is right. We're going to see a lot of the same activity from the Vikings that the 49ers did to us on Monday night. Where we lost the battle was in the trenches. The defensive line is getting soft in its ability to defend against the run. Against the Titans, I'll give the line a pass because that 80 yard touchdown run by Chris Johnson came against our second and third string players. Against the Texans, we limited their running attack to one of its lowest totals of the season, yet still the running netted a shade over 100 yards on what turned out to be the majority of the plays on the night. And then there's San Francisco. I thought we started out playing the run okay until. Kaepernick really started airing the ball out and then all of a sudden we couldn't put 8 or 9 nine guys in the box anymore, and it all turned into a vicious cycle: take away the pass, the running game builds up. Take away the run, the passing game torches you.
I have to think that the defensive performance was an absolute aberration. Even the 1985 Bears gave up in the 24-38 point range during the course of year, and this defense is not anywhere near as dominant as the '85 team's defense. Our pass rush must improve in order to take the pressure off our defensive backs, and we must not allow tight ends to get so open like Davis did against us all night on Monday. And then there's the offense. I don't know what to say about how poorly they played. The sheer amount of suckage is tremendous with this team, yet I fully expect it to come out and win against a 6-4 Vikings squad for some reason. Hey, if we can beat Dallas and Indianapolis, why can't we do the same thing against the Vikings?