They say that the best way to get over a loss is to have a short memory. Well, the NFL obliged the Chicago Bears with not only a short week but with what seems to be a gimmie game against the winless Giants to help remove the bitter taste of a disappointing 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Today was a day off for the Bears, but with only three days until Thursday's prime-time tilt, I would be shocked if many, if not all, of the players were at least at Halas Hall watching tape, preparing for the Tom Coughlin scheme, or simply put, "business as usual."
The Bears started off sloppily vs. New Orleans. On the first play from scrimmage, Jay Cutler pitched a perfect toss to Matt Forte, who dropped the ball. Cutler recovered for a 10-yard loss, but the Bears still had to punt on their opening possession.
Unfortunately, it only got worse from there. The Saints immediately drove down the field for a Hartley field goal. On the ensuing possession, Cutler was hit from behind and fumbled. The ball was recovered by the Saints inside the redzone, and an already tired defensive unit had to come back on to the field.
At this point while watching the game, I kept thinking, they have to hold them to a field goal attempt, and they did. So, what could have been a two-touchdown lead was simply a one-possession game.
Jay Cutler was asked about the early protection woes by the offensive line, to which he replied, “I’d have to take a look at the film. I've got to do a better job of getting us where we need to be protection-wise and pointing things out, shoring us up. They got us three times. It was a big three plays.”
Many fans have taken issue with Cutler's brash and often negative body language on and off the field, but say what you want about the guy (and I have certainly taken my fair share of shots at the signal caller), he rarely, if ever, puts the blame on anyone's shoulder other than his own.
And boy did Cutler produce this week, putting up his best numbers of the season, going 24-33 for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
After a wretched start, allowing the Saints to put up 20 points in the first half, the defense seemed to settle down only allowing a Drew Brees-led team to six second half points. The offense also found their stride, especially the combo of Cutler and Jeffery, who had some gaudy statistics (10 receptions for 218 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets) against an oft confused New Orleans secondary.
When Jeffery was asked about his record setting day, he had this to say: “It’s not about what I did; it’s about what the team did. And, we didn’t get the win. So, that’s what I focus on … I feel like what I did out there today … I’m more concerned about the ‘W,’ not about what I did. It’s a team thing. There were eleven guys that took for me to get 200-plus yards or whatever I had.”
It's always nice to see such a young man focused on what really matters, and that's a win. It's also very nice to see someone at a “skill position” deflect attention that is usually welcomed with open arms.
Speaking of those who don't mind the attention, Brandon Marshal had a relatively quiet day (four receptions for 30 yards) until a late touchdown brought the Bears within striking distance.
After the game, Marshall was asked a slew of questions, but the answer that stood out to me is when he responded to where his frustrations lay. “The frustration comes when we’re not winning and the offense isn’t moving the ball. It has nothing to do with me. Sometimes the formula may go to me, sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever’s best for the team to win, that’s what we need to do. I’m always going to be frustrated when our offense isn’t No. 1 in the league. I’m always going to be frustrated when we’re losing. I’m frustrated.”
The bottom line is that everyone is frustrated with the events and results of the last couple of weeks, but there is never time to get too caught up on it. Times are seemingly at their toughest when a team is littered with injuries, as the Bears are, and even tougher to keep morale high coming off of two straight losses.
With a new coach at the helm and everyone in the locker-room not knowing what to expect next as a result, there is no time to sit back and rest on your laurels and feel sorry for yourself. The test is to see how the locker-room reacts to adversity and how they pick one another up.
With the group of veterans Chicago has and the experience coming from the top, it is still not time to panic but to have faith in the system being implemented and the players putting it into action.
It's not time to blow this thing up and write it off as a loser, but it is getting tougher to gauge where this team will be in the coming weeks. Thursday is just another opportunity to begin to right the ship.
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Filed under: Post Game Report