Final Thoughts: Conservative Play Calling Did The Bears In Against Lions

Final Thoughts: Conservative Play Calling Did The Bears In Against Lions
Lions cornerback Darius Slay gestures a no-catch signal as Marquess Wilson sits on the turf after not catching the ball in the third quarter of a 37-34 Bears loss on Oct. 18, 2015. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

The Chicago Bears had endless opportunities, but a mixture of terrible play calling and bad fortune that mixed into the final result; a 37-34 loss to a bad Detroit Lions team on Sunday.

Even though the Bears trailed the entire afternoon until the 7:50 mark of the fourth quarter, John Fox and his crew had a 31-27 lead intact with a little under three minutes remaining in the game.

All three Lions timeouts were used as the Bears ran three straight times simply trying to run clock in the hopes of picking up a first down. However, they failed to do just that and Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase put the pressure back on a defense that wasn’t slowing down Matthew Stafford at all.

It’s almost laughable how predictable the Bears were. Jay Cutler had one touchdown pass and a bad interception as the Bears scored only three times on eight total redzone trips.

Robbie Gould chipped in with four field goals while the Bears generated touchdown scores from Jeremy Langford, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. Cutler summed up the game perfectly with one word “bizarre.”

Overall, this was an ugly and embarrassing loss to a Lions team that is not good. The Bears showed they are not much better despite some big outings from key players offensively.

Quick hitters

Alshon Jeffery had an incredible game outside of two pass interference penalties called on him. The No. 1 wide receiver had eight receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown that he reeled in through double coverage. On the Bears’ final drive of regulation to tie the game at 34, Jeffery added two huge grabs for 49 yards.

-Special teams made heads up plays for the Bears as Chris Prosinski and Josh Bellamy each recovered Lions fumbles. Those two fumbles lead to 10 points for the Bears.

-Undrafted rookie Jonathan Anderson had a solid debut as a nickel package sub. The TCU product had three tackles and an interception early in the fourth quarter that helped the Bears move ahead with a Forte touchdown moments later. Anderson would have had two interceptions if the controversial Golden Tate touchdown before the end of the first half wasn’t overturned.

-Second-year linebacker Christian Jones led the Bears with nine tackles as he called the defensive signals with Shea McClellin (knee) out. Jones played well overall as he also had a pass breakup that should have been a pick early on.

Forte had 89 yards and a touchdown on 27 touches as the Lions defense only allowed him to average a measly 2.9 yards per carry. With all that in mind, it still makes no sense why Gase and the Bears opted to be conservative with the run and basically give the Lions the chance to win late.

Low points

-Despite recording eight quarterback hits and two sacks on the day, Stafford had a clean pocket for most of the game as he gashed the Bears for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Coming into Sunday, the struggling Stafford had averaged 6.18 yards per pass as he threw only three touchdowns over the last three games.

Sherrick McManis doesn’t belong on an NFL defense. He had eight tackles against the Lions, but in pass coverage he was a glaring weakness as he gave up big catches to Lance Moore and Calvin Johnson often. McManis was picked on and it showed, especially on Moore’s first quarter touchdown. The cornerback spot is thin.

Pernell McPhee was called for what was really a soft roughing the passer penalty on Detroit’s go-ahead touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. He tackled Stafford low, but he certainly embellished it. McPhee was the only consistent pass rusher with four tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack.

-With the Lions lined up at the Bears’ two-yard line with 49 seconds left, an intentional grounding call moved them back. In hindsight, the Bears should have declined the 10-second runoff as they would have had a shot to score a touchdown to win it following the Lions score. Fox said after the game, the Bears had the option. Poor decision making there by the coaching staff.

-On the 57-yard Calvin Johnson catch in overtime that set up Matt Prater’s game-winning field goal it was clear that Lions tight end Tim Wright got away with a hold on Willie Young. Walt Coleman and his crew called a very sloppy game this week to say the least.

Final Thought

Most games are decided by the players on the field rather than the coaches behind the scenes. However, this one falls squarely on the shoulders of Fox, Gase and the rest of the Bears’ offensive staff.

This isn’t a playoff team, but still a 3-3 record through six weeks would feel a whole lot better than a 2-4 showing after that disheartening loss.

Next up

The Bears get a much-needed off week to think about all the mistakes they made on Sunday. They host Minnesota (3-2) in Week 8 at Soldier Field.

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button to get all the latest Bears Backer articles sent to your inbox.

Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Chicago Bears.

Leave a comment