Moon Mullin: "Missed opps, and now a season nearing the brink"
Our 2012 season is on the brink Sunday:
1. If we look good and win Sunday, we're still in good shape.
2. If we win, but look bad, against another bad team, then we're probably in trouble, even if we DO make the playoffs.
3. If we lose in another crappy showing, then the fat lady is singing. Our 2012 season is probably over.
LINK to the article Missed opps, and now a season nearing the brinkLosing three out of four games constitutes falling off a season’s cliff for the Bears after a 7-1 start. No longer are they in any discussion of the NFL’s best and they are in danger of being able to look over the edge at the abyss, which in the NFL is no-playoffs. The Bears will probably clear the bar without real difficulty, although their two gimmes on the schedule are both away games, at Arizona and at Detroit, two teams with a combined eight wins for the season. The chance was there on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks to move past the San Francisco 49ers into the No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye, and now the Bears are a wild-card team. Which may not be a bad thing. The last two Super Bowl winners (Green Bay, New York Giants) played no playoff games at home. And the Bears had home-field losses to exit the 2001 and 2005 postseason in one-and-done fashion, and their 2010 NFC Championship loss was at home. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) W 41-21
Balanced identity established with 33-35 run pass ratio and “O” runs up 428 yards with Jay Cutler throwing for 333 yards and 2 TD’s to go with rushing TD’s by Michael Bush (2) and Matt Forte (1) as part of 122 rushing yards. Nice to have caught this team while Andrew Luck was still a puppy.
@ Green Bay Packers (8-4) L 23-10
Jay Cutler berates offensive linemen on national TV for seven sacks; linemen just have to accept Cutler’s four INT’s apparently. Embarrassing offensive performance all around as defense holds Aaron Rodgers and Pack to 3 FG’s and one TD.
St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) W 23-6
Defense sacks Sam Bradford six times and holds Rams out of the end zone. Offense scores only one TD for the second week in a row and Jay Cutler continues to find a groove with receivers.
@ Dallas Cowboys (6-6) W 34-18
Five interceptions of Tony Romo, two returned for TDs (Briggs, Tillman) and a workmanlike 360 yards on offense produce a crucial road win on MNF against the most overrated (annually) team in the NFL.
@ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) W 41-3
Bears offense runs up 501 balanced yards (214 rush, 287 pass) and explodes after a sluggish first half. Briggs and Tillman make NFL history with TD interceptions for second straight week and Brandon Marshall puts up 144 yards on 12 catches.
Sun., Oct. 14 Off week
vs. Detroit Lions (4-8) W 13-7
Jay Cutler sacked five times and survives Ndamukong Suh’s WWF takedown. Bears RB’s net 132 yards as run game clicks. Offense can’t put Lions away but Charles Tillman D on Calvin Johnson virtually locks Bears DB into a 2nd Pro Bowl.
vs. Carolina Panthers (3-9) W 23-22
Robbie Gould 41-yard FG as time expires caps 16-point fourth quarter and rally from 19-7 deficit. Offense and defense struggle badly for three quarters but Kellen Davis catches TD pass and Tim Jennings TD return to turn back Cam Newton and reeling Ron Rivera team.
@ Tennessee Titans (4-8) W 51-20
Charles Tillman’s bid for defensive player of the year got a boost from four forced fumbles, Brian Urlacher returned an INT for a touchdown and Corey Wootton scored on a blocked punt. Jay Cutler throws three TDs to Brandon Marshall in a game Bears led 28-2 after one quarter.
Houston Texans (11-1) L 13-6
Jay Cutler goes out with concussion and offense improves with Jason Campbell. But too many wasted chances with good field positions with 2 INTs and 2 lost fumbles. Arian Foster rushes for 102 but Bears adjust to control Texans’ offense in second half.
@ San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) L 32-7
Jason Campbell cannot survive an abysmal performance by the offensive line, allowing 5.5 sacks to Aldon Smith, while the defense makes an instant star out of Colin Kaepernick in his first NFL start.
Vikings (6-6) W 28-10
Jay Cutler returns from his concussion, completes 15 of 17 in the first half as the Bears get up 25-3 and cruise. Adrian Peterson loses to fumbles, Chris Conte intercepts Christian Ponder, and the offense turns the takeaways into 14 points.
Seattle Seahawks (6-6) L 23-17
Defense allows 459 yards as Russell Smith runs them ragged on TD drives of 97 and 80 yards for an overtime win. Bears squander numerous chances for stops and fail to convert an early fourth down vs. taking a safe FG.
@ Minnesota Vikings (6-6) Sun., Dec. 9, noon
Vikings can’t hold 14-10 halftime edge as Packers score 13 unanswered in the second to give Minnesota its fourth loss in the last five games.
Green Bay Packers (8-4) Sun., Dec. 16, noon
Pack survives 210 rushing yards by Adrian Peterson by intercepting Christian Ponder twice in the red zone to catch Bears in NFC North. Next: Detroit
@ Arizona Cardinals (4-8) Sun., Dec. 23, 3:15 p.m.
A new low for Cards, losing 7-6 to the N.Y. Jets who play so poorly that Mark Sanchez is benched. Five first downs and 0-for-15 on third downs to run string to eight straight losses. Next: @ Seattle
@ Detroit Lions (4-8) Sun., Dec. 30, noon
Just when you think the Lions have reached the pinnacle of classlessness, they raise their own bar, taunting and laughing at an injured Colt still down with a concussion after an Ndamukong Suh hit. Last laugh to Colts on Andrew Luck/Donnie Avery TD flip.
Bears have their 'backs against the wall'
Another by Moon:
LINK to the article Bears have their 'backs against the wall'
Right tackle Jonathan Scott is a relative newcomer but he cut to a painful core reality after Sunday’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks:
“Our backs are against the wall,” Scott said.
Losing a third out of four games against teams with winning records will put a team, even one that is still 8-4, in that unpleasant spot.
But that’s precisely where the Bears realistically are after being in the discussion of “NFL’s best” along with Atlanta and Houston before the Texans and San Francisco 49ers games effectively ended those musings.
Lovie Smith said during his pregame visit with WBBM play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak that the Bears were already in playoff mode. The problem is that they are now in danger of slipping out of the playoffs, sitting at the No. 5 seed right now.
Green Bay (8-4) is the de factor NFC North leader after putting down the Minnesota Vikings (6-6) on Sunday. Beyond the Packers’ having beaten the Bears already, which can be addressed by a Bears win in two weeks when Green Bay comes to Soldier Field, the Packers also are 3-0 in division play. The Bears and Packers are the only teams on each other’s remaining schedule with a record above .500.
But all that playoff analysis means absolutely nothing if a team that prides itself on defense cannot make one stop with a game on the line. And Lovie Smith knows it.
“Once you get a lead, you’ve got to be able to hold a lead at home with our defense,” Smith said. “Defensively we didn’t get a lot done…Just not the type of football that we play around here.”
Smith needs to hope not. His defense allowed drives of 94, 107 (Seattle was penalized 10 yards and made that up a play later) and 85 yards (also with a penalty of their own thrown in and overcome).
The defense wasn’t admitting it was tired at the end of the game, but it clearly was, just looking at some of the 1,000-yard stares in the locker room afterwards. The concerning part of that is that it had nothing to do with age, heat or anything else, just bad play.
“I don’t think we were gassed,” said defensive end Shea McClellin. “We rotate in and out enough; we shouldn’t be gassed. I don’t think that was the issue.”
It wasn’t. You get tired when you’re on the field too long, and the issue was not finishing off Seattle on third-and-long’s when they presented themselves.
Smith acknowledged that poor tackling was a problem, and “we couldn’t get off blocks, we didn’t take the ball away enough.”
The ignominy on Sunday was that it was the third straight loss, at home, to Seattle. And it came just as the 49ers were losing in overtime, which would have put the Bears back in the No. 2 playoff spot had the Bears been able to make any sort of defensive stand. Just one, against rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, whom they couldn’t entirely keep up with even with the help of a “spy” system of assigning speed end Shea McClellin to keep an eye on the guy.
Coaches have made performance-based position changes this season, at two different spots on the offensive line, at defensive end and at nickel back.
CSNChicago colleague Jim Miller posited on our “Bears Postgame Live” that after two dismal defensive performances in three weeks, more changes perhaps should be in the offing.
Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli have rarely suffered perceived under-performance for long. And while virtually everyone is perhaps already on the field, playing time may be apportioned differently based on evaluations over the next few days.
Seattle threw some minor surprises at the Bears defense by using some shotgun formations that said “Pass” but were run plays or options, defensive players said.
The task then was just to stay on keys, which the Bears didn’t do, keep Russell Wilson in the pocket, which the Bears also didn’t do, and make tackles when they did get to where they needed to be, which they also didn’t do too well.
“We pride ourselves on playing defense,” said safety Major Wright, who missed a chance at an interception in the final minutes that would have ended Seattle’s go-ahead touchdown drive. “[Russell Wilson] got out of the pocket a couple of times and we had to break down and make tackles.”
Which didn’t happen soon enough.