Nov 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) catches a touchdown pass against Chicago Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time in years, this writer had the opportunity to go a Chicago Bears game live at Soldier Field. The seats were outstanding as the view was just behind the goal posts in the south end zone (the end zone that said BEARS Sunday). Several things were observed from an up close and personal vantage point past Sunday. Let’s look at the most important observations.
This past weekend’s game featured the Tennessee Titans, with a record of 5-6, coming to take on the Chicago Bears. The Titans boasted one of the best running games in the league with the best rusher in the AFC, Demarco Murray. The also had last year’s highly touted draft pick, Marcus Mariotta. Remember that Mariotta was almost a Bear?
The Bears were missing several of their key players for this game. For the long-term, they were missing the two “Kyles” Fuller and Long. They didn’t have Jerrell Freeman or Alshon Jeffery as they were suspended for using PED’s. Kevin White was on IR and Eddie Royal was “iffy” (he did end up playing).
There were other’s missing from the lineup this past Sunday. Tight end Zach Miller landed on injured reserve with a broken foot. Perhaps more noticeable was quarterback Jay Cutler out with an injury he suffered the previous week. Backup Matt Barkley was starting and that may have caused a lot of fans to turn away from this game. But this game was very close at the end. I am sure that many people were happy they came.
Here are some “first hand” notes and observations from the game this Sunday to perhaps give the reader a different perspective of the game.
Anyone who watched the game saw that the Bears wide receivers, drop a lot of critical passes in the game. There were ten total drops. Looking at the drops, had the receivers actually caught the ball Barkley would have had over 400 yards and the Bears would have won the game. That was tough to watch.
The Bears’ defense is sneaky good at times. Yes, the Titan’s offense isn’t the greatest but they have a good running game and their quarterback, Marcus Mariotta, has thrown quite a few touchdown passes this season. He couldn’t be taken lightly. Chicago did a decent job of keeping things contained in the passing game even though Mariotta had two touchdowns. They did allow some yards on the ground too but injuries and a suspension have sapped them of some of their run stopping talent.
There is a drawback to this defense. The drawback is their lack of pass pressure and sack production. The defense didn’t have a single sack Sunday. They pressured Mariotta just about six solid times that afternoon (as observed). Interestingly, on some passing downs, the coaching staff took their best pass rusher, Pernell McPhee, out of the game. There will be more on McPhee later but this move was a little odd.
Pass Catching Running Backs
Sure, there were plenty of dropped passes by guys in this game and there are some that will say the dropped passes by the wide receivers did the most damage. But the drops by Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford were painful. Remember how efficient Matt Forte was at catching the ball out of the backfield? That had been a valuable part of the Bears’ defense in the past and something that they could really use this year.
Howard wasn’t known for his pass catching ability but it would be nice if he could be utilized out of the backfield like that more often. An interesting fact about him is that he has he is tied for the NFL lead in dropped passes with six. He does lead in drop percentage at 16.2%
Langford is supposed to be a solid pass-catching running back. But, like so many other “receivers” on Sunday, he missed one key catch. The balls that they dropped were easy to catch watching from the stands except one (a contested catch that Marquess Wilson dropped).
It’s just another thing gone wrong for the Bears this season.
Is Pernell Mcphee Perpetually Injured?
When you are watching games on television, they cut away from the action after a play and you miss things. What you missed on Sunday was McPhee hopping around, limping and walking gingerly at times on the leg with the bad knee. I can understand players get their feet stepped on. They get kicked in the shins and twisted in odd ways but McPhee made it a habit of looking like he’s hurt.
I have written about the fact that McPhee’s knee has been an issue for almost two seasons. He had surgery on it in the offseason and took a while to recover from it this year. It would appear that his knee is not fully healed yet. Will he ever be healed and ready to participate 100%?
Nov 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is tackled by Chicago Bears strong safety Deon Bush (26) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Eddie Goldman is a Beast
Goldman was back after missing some time with an ankle injury (for the second time this season). He disrupted the running game up the middle and did, at least a little, get some pressure on the quarterback. He is a big bodied, strong athlete in the middle of the defense. Goldman can make a big difference in games.
I did see Goldman get double teamed at least twice but he still got up the field enough on passing downs. He just didn’t hit his mark and get a sack. He had some nice plays in the running game though. If he can stay healthy on a consistent basis, he has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl player in the future.
Cre-Von LeBlanc is Hard To Watch
You didn’t need to be at the game to notice that LeBlanc isn’t that solid of a player. I have seen so much “praise” written about him and can’t figure out what people are seeing in him. He had one good play on Sunday, a nice open field tackle to save a long gain. He did have six total tackles to lead the team. But he gave up some key catches and doesn’t appear to be a strong coverage guy. Nice last line of defense but not a guy that’s going to defend a pass in the air or stick with faster receivers.
Are there other options?
Tracy Porter and Akeem Hicks are Cheerleaders
These guys didn’t stop trying to get the crowd into the game. They also congratulated teammates on nice plays and were active on the sidelines. Not only did they help rally their teammates but they let their actions speak on the field. There are little things you don’t see but when you notice what these guys do you see who the real leaders on this team are.
The Big Guys
There were two players that really stood out for their size up close. Tackle Bobby Massie is a very big guy. He stands 6-6 and looks like the biggest guy on the field. Safety Deon Bush is only 6’ but he has a wide body and looks the part of a safety. Television cannot do justice to the size of some of these guys. You get a really good feel about how much size and strength there is on the field when you see these games in person.
The fans were great! Sure, you had your critics but you had those that were there just because they loved the Bears. The people in my section were cheering loudly and savoring every positive moment the Bears gave the fans that day. You hear a lot of the negative about this team. Trust me, there were some positive things to come out of Sunday’s game. It was a much better game than anticipated.
There are plenty of people out there who still love their Bears. It may be a down season but with good fortune this can be a tough, winning team in the future.