Chicago Bears: Houston Texans
The No. 1 reason the Bears hired general manager Phil Emery was to fix the team's approach to the draft after the final years of Angelo's watch produced far too many misses.
Rodriguez was the fourth-round pick in Emery's first draft class. To admit defeat this early on a relatively high draft choice would be crushing, even if Rodriguez has done little to justify his spot on the team, outside of his draft status.
Rodriguez's final numbers his rookie year: four catches for 21 yards in 12 games.
To be fair, the Bears' offense last year was dysfunctional, and Rodriguez was never given the opportunity to stretch the field in the passing game -- the role Emery envisioned -- so it was easy to wipe the slate clean and expect Rodriguez to have a larger impact in the new Marc Trestman offense.
Week 10 Report Card: Houston Texans 13, Chicago Bears 6
The Bears faced the No. 2 rush defense in the NFL, and clearly they weren't ready. Running back Matt Forte averaged 2.4 yards per attempt, and in this case 16 attempts might have been too much for him, given his lack of production. Michael Bush ran three times for 34 yards, but lost a fumble. As a whole, the Bears averaged five yards per attempt, but it's telling when Cutler -- who played just the first half -- is the team's second-leading rusher. Chicago's inability to run the ball seriously limited what it could do through the air, especially off play-action.
By taking an early lead, Houston put Jay Cutler in somewhat of a difficult situation because he isn't used to playing from behind. Cutler's first interception resulted in a Shayne Graham field goal, but his receivers -- namely tight end Kellen Davis -- made the quarterback's numbers look worse, and we'd be remiss to not mention the dropped pass in the end zone by Brandon Marshall that could have swung the momentum. Cutler played just a half and finished with a passer rating of 16.7. Backup Jason Campbell struggled in relief. But that can be attributed to the lack of repetitions given at that position throughout the week.
The Bears have allowed 100-yard rushers in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. Foster rushed for 102 yards as the Bears struggled to stay in their gaps, especially on runs off tackle. In addition to mishaps with gap responsibility, the Bears flat out struggled at tackling. Chicago came into the game ranked sixth in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 88 yards per game. By failing to control Houston's rushing attack early on, they let the Texans build a lead the offense couldn't recover from. During their only TD drive, the Texans ran the ball three times in a row for 52 yards. Unacceptable.
Tim Jennings picked of two passes, and Houston's leading receiver was running back Arian Foster (five catches, 15 yards, 1 TD). Andre Johnson led the Texans in receiving yardage (35). But as a whole the Bears allowed just 95 yards through the air. Obviously, the rainy, windy conditions played a part in that. Chicago never let Houston take control of the game because it shut down the Texans' ability to keep drives alive with the pass. Houston quarterback Matt Schaub finished with a 42.9 passer rating.
Return man Devin Hester made a few plays last week against the Titans, but failed to deliver Sunday in front of the home crowd, which definitely needed a lift after watching a horrid offense all day. Robbie Gould deserves credit for powering a 51-yard field goal through the uprights against the wind. Adam Podlesh put two of his five punts on the night inside the 20, and finished with a 38.8 net punting average.
In defense of the coaching staff, it doesn't throw interceptions, fumble or give up runs of 20-plus yards. All occurred against the Texans on Sunday, but the staff shouldn't be blamed for that. The offensive staff is definitely accountable for the club's inability to take advantage of the aggressive coverages the Texans played and the group's struggles in the run game. At the same time, the team's No. 1 receiver can't drop balls in the end zone. The tight end can't fumble, and the quarterback shouldn't be throwing two interceptions. Defensively, the Bears slipped during only one drive all night, and unfortunately it cost the club the game.
"(Coach Gary) Kubiak asked me right before the team meeting if I wanted to speak in front of the team," Manning said. "I didn't know he was going to ask me.
"I told these guys last night in the meeting that we are a resilient group. We need to continue playing like that against this Bears team, because they are going to make their plays. If we just stay resilient we'll come out with the win."
The Texans did just that, thanks in large part to the efforts of Manning, who forced a pair of first-quarter turnovers against the team that selected him in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft.
Manning's first takeaway occurred on the Bears' opening offensive play from scrimmage when he separated Kellen Davis from the ball after the tight end caught a short pass over the middle for 6 yards.
Don’t get washed away with negativity, because this was already a team with obvious flaws, almost all of them on offense. Those flaws just got covered up during the previous two months with defensive dazzle and garbage-time scores.
The Bears are still a great defense capable of carrying a team to the playoffs. Still a bleak offense with a sporadic chance of making it rain. Still a Super Bowl contender. Still a team that hasn’t beaten a really good team yet this year -- 0-2 with a date in San Francisco next Monday. Still a team that employs tight end Kellen Davis for some unknown reason. Still a team riding Tim Jennings' career year.
Were the Bears, now 7-2 after the end of a six-game winning streak, exposed as playoff pretenders under harsh national lights? Not quite. Do they leave you wanting more? Absolutely.
Read the entire column.
The Bears have the chance to prove otherwise in eight days, again on a national stage, but their starting quarterback has a concussion, so who knows about Jay Cutler's status and therefore whether it's even reasonable to think the Bears can score a touchdown in San Francisco Monday night.
Read the entire story.
Yet when Jennings was asked about his night, he felt he and the defense were as much at fault for the defeat as anyone because the Bears forced only two turnovers to the Texans creating four.
"It was everything we expected," Jennings said of the game. "They came out and we knew it was going to be tough. We knew it was going to be 60 minutes. We knew we had to beat them in the turnover ratio, and we weren't able to do that. Whatever team that wins the turnover ratio has got a better chance to win.
CHICAGO -- Long lauded for toughness and durability, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered his second concussion over the last three seasons Sunday in his team's second loss of the season, a 13-6 defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans at Soldier Field.
The injury might bring into question Cutler's durability, considering he's missed time with a concussion in the past, in addition to a sprained knee that forced him out of the 2010 NFC Championship game and a broken thumb that knocked him out of the last six games of the 2011 season.
But the most significant impact of Cutler's injury is the fact it potentially jeopardizes his availability for Monday night's game at San Francisco.
Let's look closer.
What it means: Chicago's defense remains one of the league's best, but its performance against the Texans serves as somewhat of a wakeup call, and a message that there's still plenty of improvement to be made. For the team, the loss isn't too damaging. The Bears maintain the top spot in the NFC North, and lead the second-place Green Bay Packers by a game.
Too many turnovers: The Bears turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, but Houston turned only one of them -- an interception by former Bears safety Danieal Manning off Cutler -- into points (a 20-yard Shayne Graham field goal).
Chicago finished with four turnovers, which matches its high for the season that coincidentally came on Sept. 13, when the Bears lost 23-10 at Green Bay.
Even Chicago's opportunistic defense can't always match and cancel out that many giveaways. The Bears intercepted Matt Schaub twice, but like the Texans turned only one of the turnovers into points. Tim Jennings' interception early in the second quarter set up a Robbie Gould 51-yard field goal.
Leaning on Marshall: Entering the game on Sunday, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall had accounted for 37.9 percent of Chicago's targets, which ranked as the highest rate for a receiver in the NFL this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Through three quarters on Sunday, Marshall had been targeted nine times with the receiver coming up with six catches for 90 yards. Marshall's nine targets accounted for 42.8 percent of the team's total targets in the first three quarters.
Interestingly, Marshall came into the game as the only receiver in the NFL with multiple drops on throws into the end zone this season (2), and he added another one in the second quarter when a long ball by Cutler in the second quarter bounced off his hands in the end zone with the Bears trailing. The drop forced the Bears to settle for a long field goal.
But despite Marshall's drops in the end zone, he still has two more catches (5) on throws to the end zone than he did in all of 2011 (3). In 2011, Marshall caught just 12 percent of the 25 balls thrown his way in the end zone.
He finished the game with eight catches for 107 yards, his second straight 100-yard performance and fifth of the season.
Forte a nonfactor: The Bears continue to talk about utilizing running back Matt Forte more, but the club failed to establish him against Houston's second-ranked rushing defense. Forte rushed for 39 yards on 16 attempts, and gave the team minus-2 yards on two receptions in the passing game.
The 37 yards from scrimmage marked Forte's lowest output of the season.
100 back to back: The Bears came into Week 9 with the league's best rush defense, surrendering just 77.9 yards per game, before ruining that by allowing Chris Johnson to rush for 141 yards. Johnson's 100-yard effort marked the first time the Bears allowed a 100-yard game since Week 5 of last season.
The Bears gave up another 100-yard game against the Texans to Arian Foster (102 yards), marking the first time the club allowed consecutive 100-yard outings since Weeks 13 and 14 of 2009, when Steve Jackson and Ryan Grant accomplished the feat.
What's next: The Bears will receive the next two days off before beginning preparation for a Monday night showdown at San Francisco. Through the first half of the season, the Bears faced just two teams (Indianapolis and Green Bay) with records of better than .500. After the loss to the Texans on Sunday, the Bears take on five teams in a row that have six wins.
Feasting off the zone cutback running game, Texans running back Arian Foster gained 85 yards in the first half as Houston dominated time of possession, in addition to moving the chains for 10 first downs to Chicago's 4. Jay Cutler tossed two interceptions, while running back Michael Bush and tight end Kellen Davis each lost fumbles.
CHICAGO BEARS vs. HOUSTON TEXANSWhen: 7:20 p.m. Sunday | TV: NBC
RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM; WLEY (107.9 FM)
CHICAGO BEARS (7-1)
Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 78-58
Career record (including playoffs) vs. Mike Munchak: 0-1 | Career record vs. Texans: 0-2
Last week: Defeated Tennessee Titans 51-20.
Key stat: The Bears are currently on their longest winning streak since winning the first seven games of the 2006 season, and have won at least five games in a row for the third consecutive season, which marks the first time since 1947-49 the club accomplished that feat. The Bears lead the NFL in takeaways (28) and turnover differential (plus-16).
Offense rank: 25th (324.4 ypg) | Defense rank: sixth (318.1 ypg).
Offensive leader: Brandon Marshall has been the most consistent performer on offense, and has been given far more opportunities than every other player. But he’s made good on his chances. Marshall has nine catches in back-to-back outings for a combined 220 yards and three touchdowns and is currently on pace to shatter virtually every Bears franchise receiving record.
Defensive leader: Cornerback Charles Tillman won NFC Player of the Month in October, and followed that up by forcing a career-high four fumbles in last week’s shellacking of the Tennessee Titans. Although he’s forced turnovers his entire career, Tillman is beginning to receive recognition nationally for his accolades, which also puts opposing offenses on notice.
The Bears have intercepted a pass in every game this season and have scored on an INT return in four of the last five contests.
Cutler has thrown for at least one touchdown in five consecutive games.
Tillman has forced six fumbles in his last three games.
Patrick Mannelly will extend his record for most games played in a Bears uniform to 224 against the Texans.
Brian Urlacher has recovered a fumble in two of the last three games.
Lance Briggs has posted double-digit tackle totals in two of his last three games.
HOUSTON TEXANS (7-1)
Coach: Gary Kubiak | Record: 55-51
Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 1-0 | Career record vs. Bears: 1-0
Last week: Defeated the Buffalo Bills 21-9
Key stat: The Texans are the only team in the NFL that hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown all season. Houston’s defense hasn’t surrendered a rushing touchdown in a regular-season outing since Week 15 of the 2011 season. So the club has gone 11 regular-season games without giving up a rushing TD.
Offense rank: 12th (371.8 ypg) | Defense rank: 3rd (286.1 ypg).
Offensive leader: Running back Arian Foster ranks No. 2 in the AFC with 770 yards rushing and leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns. Foster has scored a touchdown in 10 consecutive regular-season games. Since 2010, Foster leads the NFL in rushing yards per game (97.6), yards from scrimmage per game (132.6) and TDs from scrimmage (41).
Defensive leader: Defensive end J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and has posted a sack in each of his first six games this season, in addition to leading the team with 59 tackles. Watt is just the 11th NFL player since 1982 to generate 10 or more sacks and 10 or more passes defensed in a season. Watt was AFC defensive player of the month in September.
Houston has won three in a row on the road, and with a win at Soldier Field will tie the franchise record.
A sack by OLB Connor Barwin would give him a sack in three consecutive games for the first time this season and the third time of his career.
Receiver Andre Johnson has caught a pass in a franchise-record 91 consecutive games.
QB Matt Schaub needs 144 yards passing to reach 20,000 for his career.
OLB Whitney Mercilus has posted a sack and forced a fumble in two consecutive games.
The difficult decision for offensive coordinator Mike Tice is how he’ll decide between deploying extra personnel to protect Jay Cutler versus utilizing extra receivers in some routes to exploit Houston’s high-risk schemes on the back end.