As Bears fans, that was a frustrating game to watch, to say the least. The ball seemed to be bouncing on the side of the Saints all Sunday as the Bears tried to record their 3rd win in a row. John Fox’s team was riding high going into New Orleans, but had a tall task if they were going to take down Drew Brees and the Saints who were riding a four-game win streak entering Sunday’s game. Even with the defense recovering two fourth quarter Mark Ingram fumbles, Fox’s team couldn’t pull out the win. The Bears seemed to have a voodoo spell cast on them as they suffered some mistakes and bad calls that they were never able to overcome. It’s amazing how a few plays here and there can really alter the outcome of a game. The Bears head into their much needed bye week losing 20-12 in NOLA. Let’s jump into my takeaways from the game.
Offense needs balance
Heading into Sunday’s game, we all knew that Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense would have to have more pass attempts than they had last week. Trubisky couldn’t rack up his 3rd win on Sunday, but I feel he took steps in the right direction. This was the first time since taking over for Mike Glennon that we got a chance to see the rookie throw the ball. Trubisky was 14 of 32 for 164 yards and one interception while tossing no passing touchdowns. The interception late in the 4th quarter is one of those moments that takes the wind out of the sails for a player but becomes a teaching moment that will help in the development in the long run. Even when the defense had solid coverage down field or he didn’t like what he saw, Trubisky took what the defense was giving him and went to his check down. The young man is a work in progress, but I was pleased with his performance. The experience he’s getting right now, you couldn’t put a price on it. The running picked back up with Jordan Howard recording his 3rd 100-yard game of the season. He carried the rock 23 times for 102 yards. That made me question some of the play calling late in the game. After the two minute warring in the fourth quarter, the Bears had a 3rd and 1 on their own 39. They threw the ball – incomplete. Next play, 4th and 1, they threw it again – incomplete. Why not run the ball with Howard? The Bears couldn’t get their big play threat, Tarik Cohen, going in the game either. Cohen was limited to 4 carries for 2 yard, while catching one pass for six yards on three targets. I understand that teams are game planning to slow down Cohen. But the Bears have to find a balance of keeping the running attempts up for Howard and also making sure Cohen gets his in the run and passing game. The Bears offensive line was hit with the injury bug as left guard Kyle Long suffered an hand injury and center Cody Whitehair left the game with an elbow injury. While it wasn’t as lopsided as last week, there still wasn’t enough balance to rack up their third win in a row. No one said the process was going to be glamorous.
Mistakes, miscues and misfortunes
Right out of the gate, the Bears had issues. On the first drive, the Bears gave up a 54-yard catch and run by Brandon Coleman which set up the Saints at the Bears 19 yard line. The defense held the Saints to a field goal opportunity, but Kyle Fuller lined up in the neutral zone on the try. That gave the Saints a first down and lead to an Alvin Kamara 7-yard touchdown run. At the end of the second quarter, Connor Barth missed a 48-yard field goal try. On 3rd and 10 with about 6 minutes to play in the third quarter, Trubisky tossed a beautiful touchdown pass to Zach Miller. After a review, the play was overturned. Miller would suffer a gruesome left knee injury after making the catch. The officials determined that Miller didn’t have full control on his way down to the ground. The NFL needs to have a better definition of what’s a catch and what’s not. I have no clue anymore. Add up the touchdown they gave up, the missed field goal and the non-touchdown and you can see why the Bears couldn’t overcome it all.
The defense did their job
The biggest storyline heading into the game was how would the Bears defense slow down the Saints high-powered offense. The D did what they’ve done over the last few weeks and that’s keep the Bears in the game. It all starts with the defensive line of the Bears. Akiem Hicks continues to dominate, as he’s done in every game he’s played in this season. He got another sack in Sunday’s game which pushes his season total to 7. The big man in the middle, Eddie Goldman, keeps making an impact and that was evident stopping the inside running game. The takeaways have been such a big difference for this unit. As fans, we went from asking when will they ever create a takeaway to expecting to see them over the past few games. In the last three games, the Bears defense has racked up eight! Defensive end Jonathan Bullard and safety Adrian Amos both stripped Mark Ingram in the game. Looking at the third down numbers, the defense only gave up 2 of 9 third downs to a solid Saints offense. Vic Fangio and his staff have done a great job to have the defense prepared to play every week.
After the game, Fox said, “We just don’t have a lot of room for error,” and he’s right. With how this Bears team is constructed at the moment, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot with miscues and penalties. One thing that jumped out to me in Sunday’s game is the Bears never stopped fighting ’till the end. It’s something about Fox’s teams. No matter if you like him or you don’t, it speaks volumes on his impact with his players. Now that we are midway through the season, the Bears sit at 3-5 heading into their bye week. I think this break comes at the right time for Fox’s squad. They need to step back, take a breather, while taking this break to get a little bit healthier. Next up on the schedule is the Aaron Rodgers-less team from up north. The time is right to get a much-needed division win. I understand that with how good the defense has played, it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of this ball club. But let’s not forget offensively there are deficiencies and limitations. The foundation is there and is promising on the defense. Offensively, I just want to see the guys that are suited up on Sundays make progress and plays. It’s encouraging to see a guy like Tre McBride snag 3 passes for 92 yards. That’s progress from none the week before. You can’t build on something unless there’s a foundation and right now the Bears offense has to start molding that for the future. Let’s all take a bye week and pick things right back up after the team from Wisconsin comes to town. #BearDown