If you listen to all the sportswriters today and read all of the articles on the internet about how the Lions got robbed and should have won the game, well, if you actually watched the game yesterday, you would know that this is far from the case. Yes, the Lions caught a tough break as a result of an obscure rule that needs to be changed. Was it the right call according to the NFL rule book? Yes. Was it fair to the Lions and their fans who were seeking their first NFL road win since 2007? Of course not. There is already talk today that the rule is under review by the NFL. Now, on to the facts and let’s take a look an objective look and who really deserved to win the game.
Total yards: Bears 463, Lions 168. Time of possession: Bears 34:42, Lions 25:18. Yards per play: Bears 6.6, Lions 2.9. You get the drift…this game was not really that close. We’ve all heard people say, “well the game was not as close as the score”…this is a perfect example. So how did the Bears manage to barely escape with a victory in a game in which they dominated? Well, two things. First, they had 4 turnovers, 3 of which surely cost them points. The worst one? 1st and goal from inside the 1 yard line that resulted in a turnover on downs. You can’t blame Lovie Smith for going for it on 4th and 1 when a field goal would have given them a 16-14 lead against a team that could not do anything offensively. He was trying to send a message that he was confident that his heavily criticized offensive line could get ONE yard on 4 attempts vs the Detroit Lions. Instead, he ended up sending a message to Bears fans that said, if we can’t move the ball one yard on four attempts against the Detroit Lions, what does that say about our offensive line’s ability to run block this year? Furthermore, what does that say about how many games we can realistically expect this team to win this season? Yes, Jay Cutler was mostly sensational, throwing for 372 yards (his career high with the Bears) and only making one poor decision. Looking like the Cutler of old, he desperately tried to convert a 3rd and 20 by forcing a throw into triple coverage that was picked off and eventually resulted in a Jahvid Best touchdown. So what else went wrong? 9 penalties for 100 yards. The Bears now lead the league in three categories, total yards (463 total yards tied with the Colts), time of possession, and penalties. So yes, the final score was 19-14 and yes, the Lions were on the wrong end of a ridiculous NFL rule, but the Bears dominated this game from start to finish and were without a doubt, the better team on Sunday.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the Bears individual performances and what we can expect going forward based on their upcoming schedule. We already mentioned Cutler and his outstanding performance that resulted in a QB rating of 108.3. Devin Aromashodu caught 5 passes for 71 yards and looks to be Cutler’s favorite target. Those numbers could have read 7 catches for 120 yds and a TD but he dropped two balls that he should have caught. Matt Forte was unable to run the ball behind an offensive line that was as bad as advertised from a run blocking perspective. He only managed 50 yards on 17 carries and if you want me to do the math, that looks like less than 3 yards per carry to me. However, he more than made up for it, to the delight of all his fantasy owners by catching 7 balls for 151 yards and two touchdowns. I will say that the offensive line did a fairly good job protecting Cutler. Yes, they allowed 4 sacks, but that number is a bit misleading as the Bears only lost 10 total yards. Cutler had plenty of time for the most part, which is essential in Mike Martz’s offense. For this offense to be successful, the quarterback needs time to make to make a deep drop and throw to a spot. The WR’s need time to run their full route and get to that spot arriving at the same time as the ball and allowing for big chunks of YAC (yards after catch). Remember the Martz led Rams teams of the early 2000′s…The Greatest Show on Turf? When this offense works, it seems as if the WR’s are always wide open in space with room to run. If the offensive line can keep Cutler upright and allow him the necessary time to make his reads, this offense has a chance to be above average. If not, well, I think we are probably talking about a 5-11 football team considering their brutal schedule.
Defensively, the Bears look like they have the opportunity to be special and keep this team in most games if the offense allows them to stay fresh by converting 3rd downs. All the big names showed up yesterday, Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers, Tillman. Peppers changed the momentum of the game single handedly by knocking Lions quarterback Matt Stafford out of the game. The huge hit resulted in a fumble by Stafford and a Bears field goal before half cutting the Lions lead to 14-10. Lance Briggs also made one of the best defensive plays you will see all year by launching himself into the backfield and nearly intercepting a handoff. Brian Urlacher contributed his first sack since 2007 (yes, you read that right) and Charles Tillman intercepted a pass after intercepting only two passes in 15 games last season. If there is one thing we can say for certain, this years Bears defense is significantly better than last year. The front seven is getting enough pressure up front to allow their below average secondary to make plays on the ball.
Finally, what is the outlook on the first quarter of the season for this team? Well, they go on the road next week to face an 0-1 Dallas Cowboys team that will be extremely fired up for their home opener and ready to erase the memory of their brutal week 1 loss to the Redskins. Next up is a home game on Monday Night Football with some team called the Green Bay Packers. Think either team will be up for this one? The Packers are the popular pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl so it will be interesting to see how the Bears measure up on a national stage. The final game of the first quarter of the season is against the Giants in the Meadowlands. Not exactly the easiest place to go to and get a win. By the looks of the upcoming slate, anything better than 2-2 may seem overly optimistic, but hey, this is the NFL and if there is one thing we can take away from Week 1, it’s the fact that anyone can beat anyone anywhere.
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Written by Tim Lewis