Coming into week 14, both the Bears and Redskins entered the contest with a 5-7 record. The funny thing is the Bears were playing to improve as a unit and the Skins are sitting atop the NFC East. It’s crazy how the NFL works sometimes isn’t it? The Bears were coming off their worst loss of the season, in a game that they should have won, to keep their playoff hopes alive. So the question was, how would John Fox’s team respond? The Bears and Skins put up similar numbers on the ground and through the air on Sunday. The Bears would fight till the end, but they would find themselves on the losing end for the second straight week as they fell to Washington 24-21. Time now to get into my 5 takeaways from the game.
1. Where is the home field advantage? The Bears have had a tough time winning at home this season. They are 1-6 this year and it has Bears fans like me scratching my head trying to figure it out. Not only is the home record this season bad, but the Bears record against NFC teams is just the same. The Bears are 2-7 against teams in their division. The Bears will have to find a way to beat teams in their division if they want a chance to get back to the promise land.
2. Zach Miller keeps making progress. Miller has shown that he can be a reliable option for Jay Cutler and this Bears offense. In some ways his play in the last few weeks probably makes it a little easier for the organization to part ways with Martellus Bennett. Miller might not be the blocking tight end like Bennett, but he has shown that he can get open and exploit match ups versus linebackers and safeties. He has done something more than Bennett and that’s finding his way into the end zone. Miller ended the day with 5 catches for 85 yards and 1 touchdown. Watching the progression of Miller and his connection with Cutler is fun to watch. The question is can Miller stay healthy? It’s left to be seen.
3. Bears O-Line had a tough day. The Bears O-Line has been a revolving door just as it was last season due to injuries. The Bears are lucky that the game is the only thing they lost because Cutler took too many hits. I feel the big issue why the offense was so hot and cold came from the play of the line. Most of Cutler’s big plays came off of broken plays because of the pressure he was dealing with. The run game stalled as well. I have a feeling it had to do with execution and also the play calling. This o-line needs to be moving in space and running the ball out of the shotgun doesn’t play to what they do best. More stretch plays and out of the i-formation. Let’s not sugar coat it, the pass protection was not good at all. Kyle Long had a tough time on the right side of the line, but the one thing about Long is I know he will watch the film and make the necessary corrections. Long wasn’t the only one having issues on Sunday. The whole offensive line needs to own up and face the music on this one. From penalties to the sack fumble, the O-Line has to get better.
4. Different week, same song for Robbie Gould. After missing two big field goals against the 49ers, this should have been the week that Gould redeemed himself. That was not the case for the veteran kicker. He had a chance to push the game into overtime and he would end up missing on a 50 yard field goal attempt. This stretch of bad luck for Gould is not normal for Bears fans. The once automatic Robbie Gould has now been labeled as a liability late in games. I understand he’s having his issues, but I’m not blaming the last two weeks on just him. The Bears had many chances not to be in the situations they were in at the end of the game.
5. No matter what, this team doesn’t give up. The Bears have shown me no matter how much they are down by or the card that they get dealt with during a game, they will fight until the end. I believe that credit needs to go to John Fox and the new mentality he has brought to this organization. Last season, if you remember, the Bears would not only get beat in games they would look like they didn’t even want to be there. That’s not the case for this year’s team. I’m not concerned about playoffs and never was, but I was concerned about could this team get back to being a tough team. From what I’ve seen they are headed in the right direction.
The Bears have been so close in every game this season. The frustrating thing is they have not been able to play a full 60 minutes of football most of the season. Penalties seem to keep holding this Bears team back as well. They finished the game against the Redskins with 7 penalties for 79 yards. Like John Fox said after the game, this team can’t afford having negative plays. There is no room for error for this Bears team. I’ve said this over and over, but it truly has been a roller coaster season for this team. We do know that this team is better coached and prepared for games, but the lack of playmakers at a bunch of different position has been exposed this year. We kind of knew that coming into the season and they have shown that by being consistent at being inconsistent. I think with another draft and free agency period underneath their belt and this team will be headed in the right direction of being more disciplines. This Bears team is much better than I ever gave them credit for at the start of the season. If anything, watching this team (even if it’s frustrating at times) gives me a good feeling for the future of our beloved Bears. #BearDown
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