The Chicago Bears dropped their second straight game on Sunday after starting the 2013 season 3-0. Sunday's 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints (5-0) doesn't seem as concerning as the Week Four loss to the Lions, 40-32.
However, the two losses had way too many similarities. Against New Orleans the Bears struggled on offense getting anything going in the first half. The Bears offense didn't cross its own 35 yard-line until their sixth series of the game.
That left the defense on the field way too long and they struggled at stopping the Saints on third-down in the first half. The Saints won the time of possesion battle (36 minutes to 24).
Also for the second straight week, the Bears offensive line let the pressure get to Cutler early on as he was sacked three times and stripped of the ball once which led to Saints points.
The Bears tried to rally back in the third quarter after heading into halftime trailing 20-7. It proved to be too little too late once again as they failed to complete the comeback.
A key drop by Earl Bennett on fourth-and-two late in the fourth quarter and a terrible neutral zone infraction penalty by Lance Briggs on a fourth-and-one ultimately ended the game for the Bears. I'm still stunned Briggs jumped on a play where the Saints were clearly trying to lure the Bears over the line.
There were plenty of opportunities to win the game despite the poor first half showing and the lack of a running game throughout.
It was sad to see Pierre Thomas run the ball 19 times and Matt Forte run it just 12 times. Thomas is a backup and Forte was supposed to be way more involved in the offense for the Bears this season.
Things can be said about Jay Cutler's performance (24/33, 358, 2 TD's, 128.1 QB rating). Before Sunday Cutler was 26-1 in games where he posted a QB rating of 100 or better. It was his fifth best quarterback rating in his Bears career. But it was ultimately a wasted effort.
Alshon Jeffery broke the Bears single-game receiving record with 218 yards on 10 catches and one touchdown. He became the first Bears receiver to top 200 yards in a game since the great Johnny Morris did it against the Cowboys in 1962.
It certainly takes a while for an NFL offense to click. Everyone knows that, but the Bears have to sustain drives in the first half to help themselves later on in games. Better offensive play in the first half will help the defense, who has struggled at times and it will help them play less catch-up late in games.
"It's a new offense," Brandon Marshall said via Chicagotribune.com. "It's going to take some time for us to really put that thing together. We want to look like the New Orleans Saints' offense. You can see, man, those guys there. They're machines out there, man. So it's going to take some time to get there."
To say the Bears aren't elite is ludicrous. This team has what it takes to be elite. They lost to two very talented teams the past two weeks and quite frankly played pretty terrible. But they still had chances to win.
The Saints and Seahawks may be the cream of the crop in the NFC after five weeks, but the Bears will keep fighting their way into the picture once again. Don't count them out just yet.
Trestman has to put together better game plans especially in the early going. First and second down play-calling will be crucial moving forward. The thing that makes the Saints offense so great is their ability to get chunks on first and second down.
The Bears started to better production on first and second downs, but it wasn't until the second half. They have way too many weapons not to be able to get some yards on those downs.
Forte and Jeffery should be used often early on. If they can get a running game going plus get Jeffery going in the first half of games it will open things up for Marshall and Martellus Bennett, who have the ability to take any catch the distance.
The defense has plenty of worries as it was announced Monday that defensive tackle Nate Collins (left torn ACL) is out for the rest of the season. Collins had his best game as a Bear making four tackles, one sack and two quarterback hits.
With Collins joining Melton on the injured reserve that leaves the Bears with Stephen Paea, Landon Cohen and Zach Minter at defensive tackle. Corey Wootton started next to Collins at defensive tackle on Sunday and he will likely do such that for the rest of the season.
I said it when it happened and I'll say it again, the loss of Israel Idonije to Detroit was huge for the Bears. They made a big mistake by signing Kyle Moore and Turk McBride for a total of $1.65 million over Idonije. Idonije is making $1.0 million this season in Detroit. Moore was released before the regular season and McBride was placed on the IR early on in training camp.
Idonije has just four tackles in five games, but he would be a huge upgrade over the current defensive tackles on this team. The Bears brought three defensive tackles into Halas Hall today for a workout: Justin Bannan, Myles Wade and Christian Tupou.
Putting up points is a must for this Bears team now more than ever with the injuries taking a toll along the middle of the defense. This Thursday night against the New York Giants (0-5) and next week against the Washington Redskins (1-3) seem like automatic wins but the Bears must stay focused.
The next two weeks against these disappointing NFC East teams could be just the cure the Bears need. A 5-2 record isn't out of the question for the Bears heading into their Week Eight bye.
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