Final Thoughts: Bears NFC North Crown Hopes Still Alive, But SNF Loss Stings

Final Thoughts: Bears NFC North Crown Hopes Still Alive, But SNF Loss Stings

With the NFC North crown in sight, the Chicago Bears blew their chances in arguably the biggest game of the year.

After the perfect scenario played out for the Bears on Sunday (a Green Bay loss and a Detroit loss), the windy city crew still couldn’t capitalize.

Losing 54-11 may seem like a blow out, but the Bears found themselves doomed early on after a 25-yard dud of a punt by Adam Podlesh and a Devin Hester fumble on the following kickoff.

Trailing 21-0 with under two minutes left in the 1st quarter, a possible comeback seemed out of reach.

You can’t blame Jay Cutler, who was sacked a season-high five times. With the large deficit, the Bears were forced to throw more than not and the Eagles defense was able to predict the play-calls.

Matt Forte didn’t help the cause either, as he struggled to block anything coming at him on the night.

Cutler underthrew Earl Bennett on a bad pass with roughly eight minutes left in the game. Brandon Boykin intercepted it and took it 54 yards for the score.

Down 40-11 at that time, he was simply trying to make a play. Honestly you can’t blame him for that.

The loss was the their fifth on the road this season. Despite the lackadaisical effort, if the Bears (8-7) can beat or tie the visiting Packers (7-7-1) next week, they will win the NFC North.

The Bears’ run defense has been very bad all year, but last night they played worse then ever.

Eagles runners by the numbers

LeSean McCoy – 18 carries, 133 yards, 7.4 ypc, two touchdowns

Bryce Brown – nine carries, 115 yards, 12.8 ypc, one touchdown

Chris Polk – two carries, 12 yards, 6 ypc, one touchdown

The 2013 Bears are allowing 5.4 yards per carry, which is the sixth worst in league history. The 1961 Vikings, their first ever year, hold the record for most yards per carry given up.

With one game left, likely against running back James Starks for Green Bay, as Eddie Lacy (ankle) is banged up, they could improve on that awful mark.

The effort was simply not there on Sunday night as starters Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton combined for the same amount of tackles as rotational ends David Bass and Cheta Ozougwu, 3.

Trailing big early may have triggered some rest for the defense, that was put in some terrible situations early and often.

Either way, the performance was a joke. Even with Lance Briggs back (one tackle), the defense couldn’t stop anything thrown at them.

It wasn’t like the Eagles we’re running a vast amount of designed plays either. The Bears run defense just couldn’t stop anyone, not even backups Brown or Polk.

The pass defense’s performance wasn’t anything to be excited about either. They allowed Nick Foles to complete 21 of 25 passes for an average of 9.2 yards per attempt.

The corners gave way too much of a cushion to the Eagles receivers and the safeties played way too far off, allowing Foles to pass with ease.

It honestly looked like a pre-season game. Peppers looked way too old to be out there, Briggs was taken out by Eagles center Jason Kelce on almost every play and overall the effort was weak.

Turnovers and mistakes early on in games always make things tough for teams to come back, but on Sunday night, the Bears made themselves look terrible.

The Eagles, who arguably had little to play for with a Week 17 NFC East deciding matchup looming, looked like the team that wanted it from the opening kickoff.

The mistakes killed the Bears in the end and the offense was never able to get in a groove because of it.

Jay Cutler and his big receiving core should be able to attack the Packers next week in Chicago if they can get the opportunities to do so.

Marc Trestman has to get his team together and help them regain focus. They weren’t focused in Philly and a big reason for that was the lack of preparation from the coaching staff, Trestman included.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is working his way out of town. The excuses of injuries and non-existent pass rush are over. Something has got to give. Changes need to be made.

It’s never too late in any season to do just that. They have plenty of talent on the defensive side, Tucker just needs to make that apparent.

Draw up some more blitzes, play the corners closer to the line of scrimmage and just stay in the correct gaps in the middle of the field. It can be fixed at least slighty at this point.

The loss stings, much like Ron Burgundy says Black Panther cologne does in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, but the playoffs are in sight despite the adversity and recent struggles.

The Bears will battle the rival Packers for the 188th time ever next Sunday and this matchup is one of the biggest in years. We’ve seen this scenario recently, in 2010, the Bears lost to the Packers allowing them to earn a playoff spot.

The Packers defeated the Bears in the NFC Championship knocking Jay Cutler out of action, then after that, Aaron Rodgers and Co. defeated the Steelers to win the Super Bowl.

This time around the winner earns the NFC North crown rather than an opening for another playoff spot. But either way, the Bears better come out with a vengeance on Sunday afternoon with their season on the line.

A couple of changes during this week’s practice could do wonders as the Bears prepare for a Green Bay team, that quite frankly is ordinary at best without Rodgers under center.

This is the biggest week  and game in Trestman’s head coaching career. Hopefully he can help his team respond in the right way, with a win.

Can the Bears win the NFC North next Sunday against the visiting Packers? What do you think?


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