What We Learned: Bears vs. Giants

The Chicago Bears quickly went from contenders to pretenders, getting embarrassed in a 17-3 loss to the Giants and allowing 10 QB sacks. What did we learn Sunday? Start with these five observations:

1. It was a matter of time before Cutler left with an injury
There was a reason why Jay Cutler was in the running for NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September and in the middle of early-season MVP talk around the league, and that's because he was playing at a Pro Bowl level behind arguably the worst offensive line in football. Now Cutler had still gotten sacked on a regular basis, going down eight times in the first three games, but it came to a head Sunday against the Giants, when No. 6 was sacked an NFL-record nine times in the first half alone and exited the contest with a concussion. And unlike the Cowboys and Packers the previous two weeks, New York didn't bother with a bunch of elaborate blitz packages and did the majority of the damage with its front four.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice tried a couple of different combinations, using both J'Marcus Webb and Edwin Williams off the bench at tackle and guard, respectively, but Week 4 clearly showed that the Bears miss left tackle Chris Williams and need him to come back from his hamstring injury as soon as possible.

2. No D can keep making plays being on the field so much
It was a miracle the Bears were in this game as long as they were, as the Giants ended up outgaining them 372-110, had a first-down advantage of 18 to six and controlled the ball for 33:25 to Chicago's 26:35. Credit the defense for holding down Eli Manning and the passing game and minimizing Ahmad Bradshaw's impact, as this was only a 3-0 game at halftime and just 10-3 well into the fourth quarter. However, because Chicago's offense couldn't sustain a drive and field position was a problem all night, eventually Manning found Hakeem Nicks for a couple big gainers, Bradshaw powered his way to 129 yards on 23 carries and even former starter Brandon Jacobs made something happen with 62 yards on six attempts.

While it's easy to look at the Bears and claim their top-ranked rush defense going into Week 4 was fraudulent, as they have now fallen to No. 6 in the NFL, Julius Peppers and Co. came up with a Herculean effort for three quarters.

3. Forte and Taylor don't complement each other at all
Critics loved the addition of Chester Taylor via free agency, as the Bears finally had another running back capable of taking some of the load off Matt Forte's shoulders and he appeared to be a good fit for Mike Martz's offense. But the Chicago running game has been a joke so far, with Forte only managing 134 yards on 50 carries and averaging under 3.0 yards per carry in all four games, while Taylor hasn't been much better in his limited opportunities on the ground: 19 attempts, 66 yards, 3.5-yard average. The Monsters of the Midway, a franchise that has retired numbers for the likes of Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Walter Payton, has reached the quarter post of the 2010 campaign but is yet to record a rushing touchdown.


DE Mark Anderson
Scott Boehm/Getty

There is a reason great tailback tandems over the years have usually had great nicknames, be it "Thunder and Lightning" or "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside," as each ball carrier excelled because he brought a different set of skills to the table – Forte and Taylor, on the other hand, look to be the same player and don't offer anything unique for the defense to consider.

4. Other D-linemen not winning their one-on-one matchups
The moment Peppers arrived in March upon signing that $91.5 million contract, the coaching staff waxed poetic about how much his presence was going to help the rest of the defensive line and that it would now be up to them to win the one-on-one matchups they would inevitably be facing. Peppers has held up his end of the bargain, registering seven tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed through four weeks, but the rest of the D-linemen have come up with a grand total of one sack. The enigmatic Tommie Harris again disappeared Sunday, and Mark Anderson continues to be a non-factor rushing the passer.

Unless the other members of the front four can start making some plays and prove worthy of being game-planned against, enemy offensive coordinators will send more double-teaming tight ends and chipping running backs Peppers' way and potentially limit his effectiveness.

5. Manumaleuna essentially a $15 million waste of money
If you want evidence as to how bad the Chicago offensive line has been through the first quarter of the season, all you have to do is look at the statistics and see a 31st-ranked rushing attack (68.8 yards per game) and a quarterback in Cutler that has been sacked six more times (17) than any other signal caller in football – Houston's Matt Schaub, Philadelphia's Michael Vick and Denver's Kyle Orton have all gone down 11 times. That being said, Brandon Manumaleuna was billed as the best blocking tight end in the league when he signed a five-year, $15 million contract as a free agent. He was supposed to function as a sixth offensive lineman on running downs, and his ability to be the QB's personal protector on passing plays sounded appealing, too.

Instead, Manumaleuna totally whiffed on just as many blocks Sunday as anyone on the roster, so the fact that he was active ahead of a proud and reliable veteran like Desmond Clark makes even less sense.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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