JpPresser: Tough times ahead for the Bears

Jarrett Payton

Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune
Alshon Jeffery jumps for the ball over the Vikings’ Xavier Rhodes on a 21-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

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Sunday, the Bears made something very clear…this team has a long way to go before they will get better. The feeling I’ve had the last two games comes down to one word, Finish. The Bears have not found a way to put a full four quarters of football together. If we are being honest here, the Bears don’t have enough talent in the locker room right now. I am one of the people that continue to preach about staying the course of the process, but John Fox and Ryan Pace have their work cut out for them. The one thing that I can’t swallow is this Bears team losing games that they should win. The last two outings they have faced divisional opponents that they should have and could have beat. Tough times create tough people. I’m hoping that is the case for this Bears team. Now let’s take a look at my 5 takeaways from Sunday’s game versus the Minnesota Vikings.

1.      Jay Cutler is not the issue. Jay Cutler was the talk of conversation coming into this season. Would this be the year he takes the next step? Can he adapt for another offensive coordinator? How many interceptions would he throw? Cutler has shown us all that he can play football. If you look at his numbers in the box score they are not eye popping, but if you watch games you see how valuable he is to this Bears team. He is carrying this team on his back right now. With limited weapons on offense and a first quarter with some questionable play calls, full of bubble screens, Cutler did everything he could to help his team win. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 211 yards and a 21yard TD to Alshon Jeffery. Let’s not forget about the 4 yard TD run where he lowered his head and ran over Vikings Safety Harrison Smith! I haven’t been the biggest Cutler supporter the last few years but he has shown something this year…he is not the problem anymore, maybe he never was.

2.      Forte makes this offense run. When Matt Forte didn’t bounce right back up as he normally does my heart sank to my stomach. That feeling got even worse when I heard he would not be back in the game; the reality hit me that this team would be in trouble. When Forte is not on the field it is easy to see how much he does on the offense. The guy is a Swiss Army Knife when you talk about running backs. He can run the ball, catch it out of the backfield, pick-up the blitz and anything else he is called on to do. Forte is the engine that makes this Bears offense run. If the Bears have to be without him for any length of time it won’t be good. I mean the running back from the Vikings that calls himself the Lebron James of running backs wasn’t on the field on third down Sunday…just saying.

3.      The secondary needs to improve. The Bears secondary is a liability and a big reason for the last two losses. Was that the reason that John Fox went for it on 4 and 1 and not kick the field goal? Was he worried that his secondary would find a way to give up big plays and lose the game? The reality is he has watched the team from the Lions game and he knew that big plays could be coming late in the game and he was right. Sherrick McManis gave up the game tying touchdown and then veteran Antrell Rolle misjudged a ball that would be caught by Charles Johnson and set up the game winning field goal by Blair Walsh. The one thing that I’m not accustomed to is the Bears defense not creating turnovers. This is game 6 and the Bears secondary recorded their first interception. They did keep Mike Wallace without a catch and with no consistent pass rush Teddy Bridgewater only completed 17 of 30. No sugar coating this one, the Bears secondary has to play better and they need the front 7 to help them out and get to the quarter back.

4.      Paging Martellus Bennett. Where has the black unicorn been? He was nonexistent in Sunday’s game. He caught three of his five targets for just 32 yards. It would be his second-lowest yardage total of the season even though finishing second on the team in targets. Coming into this season he was the guy that wanted the new contract, but right now he is not playing like a guy that deserves an extension. The Bears need him to be a big fixture on the offense. It’s frustrating because I know how much Jay Cutler likes to use his tight ends as a safety blanket.

5.      Special teams are bad. The one thing I understand as a undrafted free agent is that special teams is the best way for you to get more playing time in the other two phases of the game. This Bears special teams made some plays in their last outing against the Lions but this week they took four steps back. Yet again, they gave up another return for a touchdown. The coverage teams have to get make adjustments and improve if this team wants to save face this season.

This Bears, as a team, has a lot of soul searching to do this week. Watching the film I think they are going to kick themselves in the behind that they let this game slip away. I can’t be mad about all of this because I’ve always had the understanding that this team was a work in progress. I keep telling myself that we have to get through these dark days before we see the light of success. There is no problem with expecting more out of this team, but just know that if you proceed in that direction that there could be heartbreak. Watch this team for who they are. Some people want this team to hit rock bottom so they can get a better draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. I just want this team to play four quarters of football. Is that too much to ask? Next on the plate are the San Diego Chargers and I hope this Bears team can be charged up for the challenge. #BearDown

Follow me on twitter for more Bears conversation  @paytonsun.

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