Chicago Bears: 2013 Week 5 NOR at CHI

CHICAGO -- Second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery broke a 59-year-old Chicago Bears record in the team's 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday by finishing with 218 yards on 10 receptions.

Jeffery broke the previous single-game mark of 214 receiving yards set in 1954 by Harlon Hill, and became just the third player in franchise history to finish with 200 yards in game. Jeffery also established a career high in receptions (10), and has caught 15 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns in his last two contests.

“It’s not about what I did; it’s about what the team did, and we didn’t get the win,” Jeffery said. “So that’s what I focus on. I feel like what I did out there. … I’m more concerned about the W, not about what I did. It’s a team thing. There were eleven guys that took for me to get 200-plus yards or whatever I had.”

On the season, Jeffery leads the team in receiving yardage (429 yards) and ranks second in receptions (28) behind Brandon Marshall.

“Alshon Jeffery, man, he’s coming. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to bring him down to South Florida with me, because of times like this,” Marshall said. “I didn’t think the season was gonna be like this, where it was gonna be hard to get me the ball. But at times, man, you need another guy on the other side. This guy had a career day; over 200 yards. It’s just awesome to see this guy mature right before your eyes. I’ve always said this guy can be one of the best that ever done it. He’s probably gonna shatter all the Bears records by the time he’s done at the receiver position. That’s one of the only positives from our offensive side today.”

Report Card: Bears-Saints

October, 6, 2013

Week 5 Report Card: New Orleans Saints 26, Chicago Bears 18


Rushing Offense

Matt Forte averaged a respectable 4.6 yards on the ground, but carried the ball only 12 times as the Bears fell behind for the second straight week. Quarterback Jay Cutler used his feet (27 yards) to move the chains and Michael Bush ran the ball 12 yards on two carries, but there was never a commitment to the ground game. Forte needs more touches, regardless if the Bears dig themselves an early hole.


Passing Offense

Alshon Jeffery set the Bears franchise record with 218 receiving yards on 10 catches. Jeffery appears to have all the tools to be a future No. 1 NFL wide receiver. Cutler connected on 24-of-33 passes for 358 yards, two touchdowns and a 128.1 quarterback rating. The Bears' problem was their inability to protect Cutler in the first quarter, when he was sacked twice and fumbled two times. If the Bears had better pass protection in the first half, the grade would be an A. But the blocking upfront has to factor in to the overall passing offense grade.


Rushing Defense

Even with a depleted defensive line, the Bears still held the Saints to 66 rushing yards on 28 attempts (2.4). Sean Payton's commitment to the run is commendable, but New Orleans couldn't muster anything on the ground against the Bears' defensive line and their linebackers. Lance Briggs had a terrific game with 14 tackles, 1.0 sacks and three tackles-for-loss. D.J. Williams was also tough versus the run with 11 total stops.


Passing Defense

The Bears continue to come up short in the pass-rush department. Drew Brees had way too much time to throw the football for the bulk of the game, going 29-of-35 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 120.0. As expected, Saints' tight end Jimmy Graham torched the Bears defense for 10 catches for 135 yards. Pierre Thomas also caught a pair of scores, including a screen pass that went for 25 yards.


Special Teams

Bears' punter Adam Podlesh had a major bounce-back game with a 45.3 average and a 44.8 net average on four kicks. Robbie Gould nailed his lone field goal attempt and the Bears' coverage units were solid, with especially nice tackles by Zack Bowman and Craig Steltz. Eric Weems did have a bad penalty that backed up the offense.



The Bears were unprepared for the early pressure applied by the Saints. That's a problem. However, the Bears were able to adjust after the opening two series, but the damage had been done. The Bears' defense did a respectable job, but Graham still had a monster day which is an indictment on the players and the coaching staff. The Bears came up short following their first bout of adversity, although it was not an embarrassing performance by any means.

CHICAGO -- Jay Cutler experienced a rarity Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He posted a passer rating of 100 or better, and his team lost.

“Overall, when we look at the tape and we ask ourselves, was it the play or the player, was it us or them, we’ve found it’s on us to clean up our football and become more efficient doing it on a play-by-play basis,” Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said.

Cutler’s statistical anomaly served as proof of that. Before the Bears' 26-18 loss on Sunday, Cutler had lost only one of 27 games as a starter (including the postseason) in which he finished with a passer rating of 100 or better. That loss came courtesy of Seattle last December, when the Seahawks marched 97 yards at the end of regulation and 80 yards in overtime to best the Bears 23-17.

Against the Saints, Cutler completed 24 of 33 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, for a passer rating of 128.1.

But mistakes still doomed the Bears. In the first quarter, the offensive line struggled to pick up the New Orleans blitz, resulting in three sacks and a Cutler fumble that the Saints turned into a 19-yard field goal. But even before that, running back Matt Forte short-circuited the team’s opening drive when he fumbled a pitch on the first play from scrimmage.

“There were a few downs that we missed. There was a big fourth down going in that we missed. We weren’t as efficient in the red zone,” Cutler said. “A few plays here and there against a team like that, the way they played offensively and ate up the clock, it’s hard to rebound if you miss three or four plays.”

Earl Bennett demonstrated that in the fourth quarter on the final play of a drive that started at the Chicago 4-yard line and ended at the New Orleans 25. With 8:45 left to play and the Bears behind 23-10, Bennett dropped an almost perfectly thrown pass on fourth-and-2.

Saints confuse Bears' offense early

October, 6, 2013
CHICAGO -- Credit New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for surprising the Chicago Bears’ offense with a variety of different looks that resulted in two sacks and two Jay Cutler fumbles in the Bears’ first three drives to open Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

“The first quarter they were bringing things that we really hadn’t seen on tape,” Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “We knew going into the game they had a whole bunch of different fronts -- two down, three down and they even put a linebacker over me. It was all kind of stuff. We came out in the first quarter and they had a two-down front and they had people all over the place. It was a little tough to identify who we wanted to identify.

“It was just different looks. It was more mentally than physically. We picked it up. But we can’t put our defense in the hole early on. You can’t give an offense like the Saints short fields. But our defense fought back and actually gave us a chance. We just couldn’t get it done.”

The Bears’ offense eventually recovered and did an adequate job protecting Cutler (3.0 sacks) for the rest of the afternoon, but the sluggish start forced the team’s defense to spend valuable time on the field attempting to slow down Drew Brees and the high-powered New Orleans’ offense. Although the Bears limited the Saints to a pair of first-quarter field goals, New Orleans eventually led the game 13-0 with 5:57 left in the second quarter, as the Bears were able to convert just two of six third down chances in the first half -- Bears were 4-of-10 on third-down conversions for the game.

“Once we made the corrections, we were able to move the football down the field,” Bears center Roberto Garza said. “But we have to do that early. Our whole objective this game was to come in here and convert on third downs and keep our defense off the field. But we weren’t able to do that. We put our defense in tough situations today. We haven’t played our best football yet. When we do know who to block and get the job done you see what we can do.”

Nate Collins to have MRI; Paea plans return

October, 6, 2013
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the left knee injury he suffered in the third quarter of the Bears’ 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Fellow Bears’ defensive tackle Stephen Paea said he spoke to Collins after the game.

“I have no idea (how bad he is injured), “Paea said. “He has an MRI tomorrow (Monday) to find out what’s going to happen. He’s good. He had a smile on his face, so he’ll be back.”

Paea was inactive because of a minor toe injury he suffered last week against the Detroit Lions, despite telling reporters on Friday he intended to play after missing the entire week of practice. However, Paea said in the postgame locker room that he thinks there is a strong likelihood he will return to face the New York Giants Thursday night at Soldier Field.

“It was a game-time decision with my foot, and they told me not to play today,” Paea said. "I was (surprised I didn’t play), but at the same time I have to listen to doctors and do whatever they tell me to do. But yeah, (I think) I have a high chance of going (versus the Giants).”

Collins hurt the knee while attempting to pressure Saints quarterback Drew Brees on a pass attempt. Collins' knee appeared to buckle as he was tied up with a New Orleans offensive lineman. The four-year veteran defensive lineman grabbed his knee after falling to the ground and remained on the turf for a short period of time before eventually walking back to the locker room under his own power. He was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game by the team’s medical staff.

Collins moved into the Bears’ starting lineup after Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Entering Sunday’s game versus the Saints, Collins led all Bears defensive linemen with 10 tackles through the first four games. Collins also recorded two quarterback pressures and forced one fumble.

Locker Room Buzz: Chicago Bears

October, 6, 2013
CHICAGO -- Observed in the locker room after the Chicago Bears' 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints:

Lamenting the loss: Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod sat alone at his locker after all the other players had left. As he pulled on one of his black and pink LeBron James sneakers, the question was posed as to whether losing to his former team hurt more than a defeat to another team. “Would’ve liked to get the W; would have been nice,” Bushrod said. “But at this point, I just want to win, period.”

Blocking schemes tossed: Strewn across a bench in front of a locker was a bundle of papers detailing blocking schemes drawn up for the game plan against the Saints. It appeared as if a player had been studying them prior to the team coming out for the game. But early on, those schemes didn’t seem to work. Jay Cutler suffered three sacks in the first half, including one on a corner blitz by Malcolm Jenkins that caused the quarterback to fumble, with Cameron Jordan scooping up the loose ball. New Orleans turned that turnover into a Garrett Hartley field goal.

Bennett keeps sense of humor: Wearing an ice bag on his left knee, tight end Martellus Bennett stopped in front of the doors leading out of the locker room and stared at a table that usually contains postgame snacks for the players. “Where’s a Rice Krispies treat when you need one?" he asked.

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

October, 6, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field:

What it means: Chicago hasn’t lost two in a row since December of 2012, and now has to go into a short week with the sting of that on its mind. The Bears still aren’t where they want to be, but there’s no reason to panic, because the team continues to show signs of growth.

Stock watch: Matt Forte's fumble on the first play from scrimmage short-circuited the team’s opening drive, and the play was typical of the type of day the team experienced early. Quarterback Jay Cutler suffered three sacks, and a fumble, leading to a Saints field goal. Despite a decent outing from Cutler, the protection early let him down, as did receivers. Earl Bennett's dropped ball on fourth down with 8:40 left, which would have converted a fourth-and-2 at the New Orleans 25, hurt Chicago’s chances for a rally.

Injuries mounting: Starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea made the team’s list of inactives for Sunday’s game after being listed earlier in the week as questionable with a turf toe injury. Paea’s inactivity paved the way for Nate Collins and Landon Cohen to start against the Saints. But Collins, who posted his first career solo sack in the first half, left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury, and was later declared out for the game.

The team already lost three-technique defensive tackle Henry Melton with a torn ACL, and cornerback Charles Tillman has practiced only one day per week for the majority of the season because of a sore groin and knee.

If Collins is forced out for an extended period, the Bears will likely wind up starting Cohen and Corey Wootton at tackle. The club will also be forced to look for more depth at the position on the waiver wire. It’s worth noting Chicago signed Cohen two days prior to the Sept. 29 loss to at Detroit.

Postseason chances slightly diminished? Since the playoffs moved to the 12-team format in 1990, 77 percent of teams that started the season 4-1 reached the playoffs (98 of 128 teams). Clubs with 3-2 records after the first five games have gone to the postseason 51 percent of the time (95 of 186).

What’s next: The Bears face a difficult four-day turnaround when they play host to the New York Giants on Thursday night.