Chicago Bears’ Week 10 Report Card
The Chicago Bears’ Week 10, 36-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was arguably the team’s worse game of the 2016 season. The Bears’ pass rush was the only good thing going, but the five turnovers by the offense, and several injuries sustained to key players throughout the contest, was too much for Chicago to overcome when it was all said and done.
Now with a record of 2-7, the Bears are now looking at the strong possibility of being the worst team in the NFL. Here’s a look at how bad things got for Chicago.
Any optimism Bears fans had for Jay Cutler’s return to the field quickly died after this game. Cutler’s three turnovers in the first half (two interceptions and one lost fumble), completely took the wind out of Chicago’s sails; the pick-six was actually what caused the Bears’ boat to sink.
To make matters even worse, the 11-year veteran lost another fumble that went out the back of the end zone late in the third quarter, resulting in a safety. Not even the 50-yard Hail Mary pass to Cameron Meredith for a touchdown at the end of the first half couldn’t eclipse Cutler’s beyond-terrible performance in Week 10. Cutler seemed to lock in on only Alshon Jeffery, and was very inaccurate on a number of throws. If there was a grade lower than “F,” he would get it.
Jordan Howard’s play in the first half was the only thing that the Bears had going for them on offense. Unfortunately, the little momentum Chicago did have went away when the rookie running back lost a fumble in the second quarter, which led to a Tampa Bay touchdown on the ensuing drive. Even with a lack of carries in the second half, due to both trailing the Bucs and leaving the game with a possible Achilles injury, Howard did finish the contest with 100 rushing yards on 15 carries. Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey combined for a total of only 15 yards on four carries. Langford also added a measly four catches for 10 yards. The second-year running back could have had another catch, but he dropped a wide open pass in the flat.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
It’s hard to blame Chicago’s receiving corps for their poor performance. Obviously, Cutler was a big part of their lack of production. Jeffery and tight end Zach Miller both had four catches for 47 and 32 yards respectively. Meredith’s 50-yard Hail Mary touchdown catch was the only highlight for the Bears’ offense. Jeffery and third-string tight end Ben Braunecker were responsible for three of Chicago’s nine penalties.
If there was one thing that could be said in defense of Cutler’s poor outing, it would be the lack of pass protection by the offensive line. Things were a bit shaky along the line of scrimmage in the first half, then things got worse when Kyle Long and Bobby Massie (the right side of the O-line) both left the game with an ankle injury and a concussion respectively. All four sacks that the Buccaneers recorded was by their defensive line. The silver lining around this storm cloud was the fact that they managed to pave the way for a 100-yard rusher.
Chicago’s defensive line was stout enough to keep Tampa Bay’s running game in check by controlling the line of scrimmage, and allowing them to rush for 80 yards on 31 carries as a team. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman saw his first action on the field since Week 2, and recorded a sack. Unfortunately, he left the game with an ankle injury. As a unit, the Bears’ defensive line combined for 14 tackles.
The pass rush from the Bears’ linebacker corps was hands down the biggest bright spot for Chicago in this horrific loss. Rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd continues to show why the Bears moved up to the No. 9 spot in the draft to select him. Floyd led the team with 1.5 sacks, while Pernell McPhee and Willie Young recorded one sack and a half sack respectively. Danny Trevathan had a game-high 13 tackles, while Jerrell Freeman had nine tackles of his own. In pass coverage, Bucs tight end Cameron Brate was a problem, catching seven passes for 87 yards and touchdown.
The interception by safety Harold Jones-Quartey late in the first quarter looked to be a sign that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston would be in for a long day. However, Jones-Quartey and the rest of the Bears’ secondary couldn’t manage to contain Tampa Bay’s passing attack. Chicago’s pass defense allowed Winston to pass for only his second 300-plus yard game of the season. Even with the pressure given by the front seven, the secondary wasn’t a good complement.
Kicker Connor Barth’s 54-yard field goal proved that he has a strong and accurate leg. Too bad he didn’t have more scoring opportunities. Kick returner Deonte Thompson had three kickoff returns, one of which he decided to bring out of the end zone, only to get tackled at the 10-yard line. Eddie Royal wasn’t any better in his punt return duties. Royal fielded a punt on the Bears’ own five-yard line, and got tackled at the two.
There’s only so much a coaching staff can do when their team turns the ball over five times in a single game. But even after the miracle touchdown at the end of the half, John Fox couldn’t get his team to rally and ride the momentum into the second half. It appears that the bad coaching all season long was bound to rub off heavily on the players at some point. I guess this is the breaking point.