Sunday, November 10, 2013
5 things we learned vs. Lions
By Jeff Dickerson
CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned during the Chicago Bears' 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions:
1. Josh McCown needs to start against the Baltimore Ravens: For the record, Jay Cutler did not bomb on Sunday (21-for-40 for 250 yards, one touchdown and one interception), and he would've finished with better numbers if Alshon Jeffery had snared two potential touchdown catches that fell incomplete. But Cutler, three weeks removed from a torn groin muscle, had a difficult time moving around inside and outside of the pocket, especially after he injured his left ankle in the first half. To me, the decision is obvious this week: rest Cutler and start red-hot McCown versus the Ravens. McCown had only one series to work, and he still almost led the Bears to victory. McCown’s quarterback rating this season: 103.2. He has earned the complete trust of the players in the locker room and deserves to be the Bears’ starting quarterback until Cutler is fully recovered from his injuries. It’s time for Marc Trestman to play the hot hand.
2. Authenticity of Cutler’s ankle injury called into question: Unfortunately for the NFL, fans and media have become highly skeptical when it comes to injury updates because teams often bend the truth. Twitter and talk radio were flooded after the game with people wondering if the Bears were making up the Cutler ankle problem to cover for the fact the quarterback reinjured his groin or to shift the attention away from the torn groin muscle. To the best of my knowledge, Cutler did indeed suffer an ankle injury in the first half, right around the time he had a pass tipped and intercepted in the end zone. This new injury, coupled with the normal fatigue associated with returning from a torn muscle in just three weeks, was the likely reason the quarterback’s play dipped in the second half. The Bears aren’t just going to make up an injury. They might not give you all the details, but if the team announces to the world that Cutler twisted his ankle, then some damage was done to that ankle. This I can assure you. The question really isn’t if Cutler hurt the ankle; it’s why Trestman allowed him to play for so long in the second half. That’s my perspective on the debate.
3. Bears' defense improved: Reggie Bush ran for 105 yards and Matthew Stafford passed for three touchdowns, but the Bears were better on defense in Week 10. Stafford wasn’t sacked on Sunday, but the Bears had success crowding Stafford’s passing lanes as Corey Wootton, Stephen Paea and Chris Conte all deflected passes at the line of scrimmage. Conte contributed an important interception, and the Bears barely missed out on another pick when Major Wright dropped a pass after it had been knocked up into the air by Charles Tillman. Detroit scored 40 points when the two teams met in Detroit earlier in the season. Not only did the Bears limit the Lions to 21 points, they also won the time-of-possession battle, due in part to the defense’s ability to get off the field. This wasn’t a perfect performance from the defense by any means, but, considering what has already transpired this season, Sunday was a step in the right direction.
4. Curious call on final Detroit touchdown: Here is another example of the Bears losing the benefit of the doubt because they don’t allow their assistant coaches to talk to the media following games. It sure looked to me that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker called for Cover 1 with Detroit facing third-and-10 from the Bears’ 14-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Why on earth would the Bears force Tillman to cover Calvin Johnson one-on-one in that situation? It was an obvious passing situation and Detroit had a finite amount of space to work with. If Tillman had safety help over the top, I bet Stafford wouldn't have completed that ball to Johnson in the back corner of the end zone that proved to be the game winner. Instead, Johnson caught the 14-yard touchdown over Tillman, and the rest is history. That call made zero sense. Maybe, if given the chance, Tucker would explain why he chose to single cover the greatest receiver in the NFL in the most critical passing situation of the game. But I guess we’ll have to wait until later in the week to find out.
5. Still can’t trust the Lions: Sorry, I know Detroit (6-3) is currently in sole possession of first place in the NFC North and swept the season series from the Bears, but, honestly, how can that team be trusted? The Lions did their best to give that game to the Bears. How many dumb personal-foul penalties are the Lions going to commit under head coach Jim Schwartz? It’s unbelievable. Detroit’s lack of discipline is legendary in the NFL, and, watch, it will cost the Lions when the games really matter when/if they qualify for the postseason. A personal foul on a two-point conversion with less than a minute left on the clock? Ridiculous. The Lions were lucky to escape Soldier Field with a win.