The Bears had endless chances to pull off a Week 1 upset over Atlanta

The Bears had endless chances to pull off a Week 1 upset over Atlanta
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10: Brooks Reed #50 of the Atlanta Falcons sacks quarterback Mike Glennon #8 of the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field on September 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Four chances.

The Bears had four plays from Atlanta’s five-yard line with under 30 seconds left trailing by six.

A first down pass to Josh Bellamy went just past his fingertips, a second down out route to Jordan Howard was dropped as he turned into the end zone, a third down pass was incomplete to Zach Miller and then Mike Glennon was sacked to end the Bears’ chances of a victory.

You can blame the quarterback all you want. Glennon finished 26-of-40 for 213 yards, one touchdown and a 86.8 QB rating. But I’ll tell you what, that game wasn’t his fault.

Bellamy was held in the back of the end zone which shortened his route and then Howard dropped a sure fire touchdown as he stood wide open on the left sideline.

The chances were there even without the top three receivers on the field (Cameron Meredith, Kevin White and Markus Wheaton). White left the game with a sling with his arm in a sling after leaving in the second half with an injury.

Prior to the final drive, that ate up over three minutes, 16 plays and 68 positive Bears yards, the defense slipped up.

Early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta found a gift on a Austin Hooper catch on 3rd and 3 backed up on its own 12-yard line. Hooper then busted open in the middle field for an 88-yard touchdown despite a blitz that nearly took down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Linebacker Jerrell Freeman made a bad read in coverage as he doubled Julio Jones down low and then safety Quintin Demps whiffed on an open field tackle of Hooper before the easy score. The Bears had two more whiffed tackles on a crucial 3rd and 10 allowing Hooper to run for 40 yards.

Just moments before that, Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen hauled in a 19-yard pass and scored his first NFL touchdown as they cut the deficit to just three points.

Cohen broke a franchise rookie season opening record with 158 all-purpose yards. That included 13 touches for 113 yards and an eye opening 46-yard run in the first half. He changed direction like he was Devin Hester. Take a look.

In fact, Cohen was on the field for both Bears’ touchdowns. He lined up under center in the wildcat formation prior to the end of the first half as Howard took the snap and powered into the end zone. But for some reason, he was out there for only one of the four final plays of the game.

It was evident before this game that the Bears were going to use Cohen a lot and he caused problems all afternoon. Pairing him with Howard is smart as the Bears’ wide receiver core is suspect outside of Kendall Wright and Josh Bellamy, two No. 3 wideouts at best.

White’s injury is believed to be serious, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. It is a broken collarbone and he is likely done for the year. He finished with two catches for six yards and appeared to be unsure of himself for much of the day.

That means White has 21 catches for 193 yards in six career games in three seasons after being the No. 7 overall pick in 2015.

I love this quote from Bears tight end Zach Miller who had four catches for 36 yards.

Dion Sims also proved to be key in the passing game with two grabs for 31 yards. He needs to earn more looks moving forward.

Defensively, the cornerback duo of Kyle Fuller and Marcus Cooper limited star wideout Julio Jones to four catches for 66 yards.

As a unit, the defense held its own up front as defensive end Akiem Hicks totaled three tackles, three quarterback hits and two sacks. Eddie Goldman and Danny Trevathan each had quarterback hits as well.

Note: Take away the two devastating third down catches for Hooper on the day and Ryan had only 193 passing yards.

Final thoughts

This Bears team held its own all afternoon behind a strong effort and loud crowd.

Howard and Cohen are the entire offense. Miller, Sims, Wright and Bellamy are nice parts but yes playmakers are scarce.

Glennon is not the long-term answer and rookie Mitch Trubisky will get his chance soon enough especially if they can’t get victories. Right tackle Bobby Massie is a weak link of the offensive line, I said that last year a ton and I’ll continue to repeat after that game blowing sack allowed of Glennon.

The defense is strong, but turnovers need to be forced. Yet again, no turnovers were generated and the Bears’ offense at times struggled to make the defense awfully tired.

This was a legitimate effort from start to finish by the Bears so expect them to be more competitive than many expected. That is one heck of a Falcons team and at times, they truly slowed down their offensive unit.

The Bears head to Tampa Bay next Sunday to face the Buccaneers. At least that is the plan for now. It all depends on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Thoughts on the Bears? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.

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

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