I don’t mean to be the buzzkill here, but today’s 27-3 victory over the Rams was hardly impressive. It was to be expected. And I think it’s important that Bears fans keep that in perspective as we head into a showdown week against division rival Minnesota, who, as of this post, is headed for a big victory over the Jaguars. It’s also likely that the Packers will beat the Saints tomorrow night and that means the three teams will be tied at 6-5 with just five weeks to go.
On top of it, the Bears were banged up today. Mike Brown, Nathan Vasher, Desmond Clark, Alex Brown, and Charles Tillman were just some of the Bears who spent some time on the sideline. If you add it all up, not only will today do nothing for the Bears’ place in the standings if Green Bay wins tomorrow, but it’s also possible that today’s game could have been a hindrance to their playoff chances when injuries are taken into effect.
The Bears’ defense came to play today, but they were supposed to. Their five sacks and four interceptions may have been a surprise, but they were far from impressive. After all, the Rams trotted out three quarterbacks today. The Bears held the Rams to just 14 net rushing yards, but they also held the Titans to 20 a few weeks ago. And the defense gave up just 3 points, which is two touchdowns fewer than I thought they’d allow.
From a pure entertainment standpoint, this absolutely was a great game to watch. The Bears dominated the scoreboard and thoroughly beat the Rams from the outset. But you can’t learn anything from a game like this. There’s no reason to be feeling good heading into next week’s game at Minnesota. There were too many missed tackles, blown coverages, and a complete lack of pass rush on the majority of passing downs.
Sure, the Bears got 5 sacks, but where was the pressure on the other passing plays? Sacks are not easy to come by. There’s no reason to be naïve and expect the Bears to sack the opposing quarterback on nearly every play. But there’s no reason why on the majority of passing plays that the Bears can’t put pressure on the quarterback and make him feel uneasy in the pocket.
On offense, the Bears executed well for the entire first half. Matt Forte got his 20 carries for a career-best 132 yards and two touchdowns, and the Bears ran 32 run plays as expected. But what happened to their offense in the second half? Scoring 24 points in the first half and just 3 in the second is unacceptable. There’s no reason to take your foot off the pedal. The offense can use all the game repetitions it can get, and next week’s showdown with the Vikings could require a full 60 minutes, not just one half.
On special teams, we saw what I’ve been clamoring for for several weeks now, and that’s Danieal Manning returning kickoffs. On the opening kickoff, he hit the hole hard and took the kick out to about midfield. Contrast that return with any of Devin Hester’s punt returns and you’re left scratching your head and asking why Hester has fallen so far from the past two years.
The Bears — and all Bears fans — should take their 24 hours to reflect on and enjoy the victory, but come tomorrow, this game will be a distant memory. There’s too much at stake to take the results of this game too seriously. And if they lose to the Vikings next week, they’re in a hole with just four games remaining thereafter.