More questions arise after Bears’ loss to Lions
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Back-to-back wins now a distant memory, Chicago Bears coach John Fox faced a whole new set of problems following Sunday’s 37-34 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions.
An offense sputtering in the red zone and questions about Fox’s clock management arose as the Bears headed into their bye week with a 2-4 record.
”We had plenty of chances, whether it was offense, defense, special teams, coaching – all of our signatures were on it,” Fox said Monday about the loss to a Lions team that entered the game winless. ”We were able to squeeze out a couple close games but came up short yesterday.”
The offense made eight trips into the red zone and came away with touchdowns just three times against a red zone defense ranked 29th.
”We had some breakdowns in a lot of areas across the board, so it’s just frustrating and I’m (ticked) off about it, but I don’t even want to go to the bye week,” running back Matt Forte said. ”I just want to focus on the next team, truly.”
Red-zone problems have plagued the Bears in other games, as well. They ranked 25th in offense inside the opposition 20 after Sunday’s game.
”I think it’s a hard part of the field,” Fox said Monday. ”It’s harder to run because the field is short, it’s harder to pass because the field is short. I think it’s an area that I wished we could have executed better.”
Getting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery back from a pulled hamstring gave Fox hope the offense can be more effective near the goal line. Jeffery made eight catches for 147 yards after missing four straight games.
”He’s got great radius, good ball getter in all instances,” Fox said. ”He’s got deceptive speed and I think he showed that yesterday.”
The Bears held nothing back with Jeffery, or with wide receiver Eddie Royal, who was coming off an ankle injury. Both had close to 60 plays.
”If there was a pitch count, it wasn’t a low one,” Fox said.
Jeffery took the blame for one of the failed red-zone plays, an interception Jay Cutler threw in the end zone.
”It had nothing to do with his throw,” Jeffery said. ”I just couldn’t see it, it was in the lights.”
The coaching staff could be blamed for poor use of the clock. The Bears opted to run three straight plays with just under three minutes left to get Detroit to use up all three timeouts, and didn’t try to pass for a clinching first down. Then the Lions quickly went downfield and scored the go-ahead touchdown.
”Ultimately it’s my call, just so we’re clear on that,” Fox said, deflecting criticism from offensive coordinator Adam Gase. ”I think every play, you either call a run or a pass, kind of like heads or tails. If it goes the other way it doesn’t work and you wish you would’ve called the other one.”
Fox later let Detroit run down the clock to 21 seconds without stopping it as the Bears fell behind. Then Cutler led a last-second drive to a tying field goal.
”I look at the other way,” Fox said. ”We went like 70 yards in a short amount of time to tie the game.”
The Bears could have had even more time, though, to try for a winning touchdown instead of settling for tying it. And Fox admitted he could have declined a 10-second runoff of the clock on an intentional grounding penalty against Detroit’s Matt Stafford to save even more clock.
”I think it was 10 seconds that they backed it up and, I guess in hindsight, which we all get to do, we wish we probably would’ve had 10 more seconds,” he said.
The game included numerous questions over officials’ calls, including a replay reversal from an interception to a Detroit touchdown. One play the Bears disputed was Pernell McPhee’s roughing the passer for hitting Stafford low and late.
”Like all officiating calls, we have a procedure we do and that one will be turned in (to the league) and we’ll get a chance to see what they think,” Fox said. ”It doesn’t really change much, but I don’t think he could’ve done much.”
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