Postgame Thoughts: Bears vs. Steelers (9.20.09)

September 20th, 2009 - 6:02 pm

Hey, Chicago media, since you guys like to criticize Jay Cutler’s every facial expression, how does his most recent one suit you?  It’s called a smile.

When you have nothing else to write about, I guess you have to scrap for whatever you can, which explains why instead of critiquing Cutler’s play against the Packers — in short, he was bad — they decided to write articles on the way he conducted himself during the postgame press conference.

This week’s performance was much better, so hopefully the Chicago media will have better things about which to write.  After a slow start to the game, the Bears offense just clicked for most of the rest of the game and it seemed like whichever team had the ball last was going to win the game.  Fortunately for the Bears, Robbie Gould connected on his game-winning field goal attempt while Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed failed.  Special teams can win you games, of that we’ve become well aware.

But let’s talk about the real issue of the day and that’s the defense.  Pittsburgh’s offense is good, so give credit to where it is due.  But blown tackles and missed assignments allowed the Steelers to drive the ball up and down the field at will.  In a gap-control scheme, you can’t stop an offense if somebody is not in his gap.  I give the defense credit for playing well against the Packers, but they were not good this week.

This defense is at best an average unit right now, and it’s been that way for two and one-eighths seasons.  I’m not a Chicago meathead who says the dismissal of Ron Rivera after the Super Bowl is what has caused this defense to collapse.  The problem is that these players just aren’t as good as they were in 2005 and 06.  The team made defensive coaching changes — good ones — in the off-season and Lovie Smith has taken over the play calling.  All that’s left are the players.

After all is said and done, I’ll always take an ugly win over a pretty loss, and this win over the Steelers is both critical for the Bears to keep pace with the Vikings and Packers in the NFC North and to sustain playoff aspirations.

But a lot of work remains because Cutler cannot carry the Bears on his back every week.  And you can’t win playoff games or a championship without a good defense.

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