Greg Gabriel: Grading Chicago Bears after OT defeat to Dolphins
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The Chicago Bears have lost two games this season, and both are games they should have won. Coming off a bye week, the Bears’ offense was flat for a good part of the first half Sunday, and the usually-reliable defense was nonexistent all game. Missed tackles, poor angles of pursuit, no pass rush and missed assignments were the story of the game for the defense. Now the Bears have to get ready to play perhaps the best team in football next week in the New England Patriots. Bears fans have to hope that this team can bounce back in the same way it did after the devastating season-opening loss at Green Bay.
Mitch Trubisky started slowly and missed some open targets but rebounded for a strong second half. If the Bears had won, we would be signing his praises. Mitch finished 22-of-31 for 316 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He forced the throw into the end zone on the interception, which cost the Bears at least three points. Other than that, Mitch played well. His deep-ball accuracy was much improved, and he had some great throws to both Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson. There is no doubt that the arrow is going up with Trubisky.
All the backs made some big plays, but both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen had some costly mistakes. Both fumbled, with Howard’s costing the Bears a touchdown. Cohen’s ended a Bears drive that could have resulted in a game-winning field goal. Playoff teams don’t make mistakes like that. Between Howard and Cohen, there were three big runs totaling 54 yards. But other than that, the run game is still a long ways away from being where the Bears would like it to be.
Cohen was very effective as a receiver (7 catches, 90 yards), but Howard was only targeted once, and the ball was inaccurate.
We can’t blame the wide receivers for this loss as the group played well and totaled 11 receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Gabriel made a great adjustment and catch on a deep ball and worked to get open all day. This is the second straight game that Gabriel has come up big. Robinson was very effective with five catches for 64 yards and a TD. Miller had a game-tying 29 yard TD reception. My only question: Why wasn’t this group utilized on the Bears’ final drive?
Trey Burton finished the game with four receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. He also had a costly offensive pass interference penalty that negated a Bears touchdown. Personally, I thought the call was bogus, as we could see that play run 15 more times the exact same way and the flag would never be thrown. Regardless, that’s not how this officiating crew saw the play and it was damaging to the Bears.
The Chiefs and Eagles run the same offense as the Bears, and their tight ends are way more productive than Burton. This is something that has to be worked on going forward.
The offensive line played poorly in the opening half. Kyle Long and Bobby Massie — both very reliable on the season — gave up sacks in the second quarter. The pass protection overall was much better in the second half. Three times, the Bears were called for illegal formation, and though that is not on the line, someone has to be aware that the formation is set correctly.
The run game also remains inconsistent. Based solely on the numbers, we would say the Bears’ run game was very good. But there were four runs (one by Trubisky) for a total of 62 yards. Take those away and the ground-game productivity was 27 carries for 102 yards. There are still too many runs in which there is little or no yardage. On the final drive, the Bears called three consecutive runs after a first down in Dolphin territory. Those three runs yielded only seven yards, when a first down was needed. I didn’t like the play calling, but the line has to do a better job coming off the ball.
Once again, Eric Kush and second-round pick James Daniels rotated. My feeling is Daniels will become the starter fairly soon as the run game seems to be more efficient when he is in the game.
Sunday was the worst performance by the defense this season, and the defensive line was a big part of that problem. Miami ran for 161 yards and a 5.2-yard average per carry, and that is too much in any game. For the most part, the line was slow off the ball and failed to get penetration to disrupt. The Miami offensive line easily won the battle despite playing with two backups inside. The pass rush wasn’t there, and all five performers looked sluggish and failed to get the required pressure. Tackling was poor.
After four straight strong games, this unit disappointed. Miami found a way to block Khalil Mack and he didn’t get close to the quarterback. Injuring his ankle and having it wrapped didn’t help. It remains to be seen if that will be a problem in the future. The group as a whole had no sacks and few pressures.
Leonard Floyd got hit with an unnecessary roughing call on Miami’s first TD drive and then got called for roughing the passer in the second half (questionable call). Like the D-line, the outside linebackers seemed sluggish, failing to make the plays they had made in the first four games.
Rookie Roquan Smith was credited with 13 total tackles to lead the Bears, but this group’s overall play was also sub-par. Too many missed tackles and poor angles of pursuit. The Bears gave up over 160 yards on the ground, and part of that is on the linebackers, who didn’t fill in their usual manner.
Other than Kyle Fuller’s two interceptions, this group played poorly. Miami’s Albert Wilson had six receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He won the game for Miami. Most of his yardage was after the catch, and the Bears’ secondary missed tackles and, like everyone else on the defense, took poor angles of pursuit. Neither of Wilson’s two big receptions should have gained more than about 12 yards. Eddie Jackson was beat badly by Nick O’Leary on a flat route for Miami’s first TD.
In the first four games, the Bears defense was one of the better tackling team’s in the NFL. Not yesterday, when each area of the defense had its share of misses.
The coverage units produced their normally solid work, but we can’t say the same thing about the kicking. Cody Parkey was signed to a four-year, $15 million deal to make clutch kicks. He missed the 53-yard field goal that would have won the game for the Bears in overtime. Both of Parkey’s misses this season were to the right, as were his misses in the preseason, if I remember correctly. Obviously this is an area that needs work.
When teams lose, coaching always comes into question. A few things come to mind. Last week was the bye, and Matt Nagy gave the team the week off when the Bears could have practiced twice. I have no problem giving the week off to a veteran team that knows how to win, but this is a young team playing in a new system. The Bears came out flat and did not perform with the intensity we have seen in previous games.
For most of the game, the Bears offense was in attack mode. They took a number of deep shots, and hit on many of them. In the six plays in the OT possession, there was only one pass, and that was on the very first play. After two runs by Jordan Howard totaling 33 yards, the Bears never tried to throw. On third-and-6, they needed to get one more first down, yet they settled for a short run. 53-yard FG attempts are never “gimmes” in the NFL. I felt the play calling on that final drive was far too conservative. This is the second time this year (both losses) when Nagy’s conservative calls cost the Bears a win.
On the defensive side, the overall play was awful. Adjustments weren’t made to stop a Miami offense with a quarterback who has proven over and over again he can’t play (except vs. the Bears). With New England up next week, the coaches must vastly improve if the Bears are going to win.