Wright not ready
Chicago's coaching staff had big expectations for second-year safety Major Wright coming into this season. Even though he missed half his rookie campaign due to injury, it was believed he could step in this year and be a starter. Yet it's become obvious Wright needs more seasoning and is too inexperienced for full-time duties.
In the preseason, Wright missed a number of tackles. He too often failed to break down as he approached ball carriers and watch many fly through his fledgling arm tackles. Yesterday's game showed he still has much to learn about coverage as well.
In the first half, with momentum on the Bears' side, the Saints were faced with a 3rd and 12. Receiver Devery Henderson, Wright's man, got behind the secondary and QB Drew Brees found him for a 79-yard touchdown. That play took the wind out of the Bears – a blow from which they never recovered. Wright suffered a concussion in the second half and will be out for at least this week. Brandon Meriweather will take his place, a move that may quickly become permanent.
Forte one of the best backs in NFC
Despite the Bears running the ball just twice in the second half, and zero times in the fourth quarter, RB Matt Forte was still a force. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and led the team in receptions (10) and receiving yards (117). He ran hard all day, breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards. In the second half, dump offs to Forte were the only plays picking up yardage.
RB Matt Forte<
Stacy Revere/US Presswire
When the rest of his teammates and coaches failed him, Forte still produced a monster game. As it looks now, it's a good thing he didn't re-up with the Bears this preseason because he's in line for a monster payday come 2012.
Offense still can't handle blitz
Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams dialed up every blitz in the book yesterday, bringing extra guys early and often. It was a strategy that everyone knew was coming. Cutler talked during his weekly press conference about deciphering what he called the Saints' "exotic" blitzes. Yet it seemed as if the Bears hadn't prepared for it at all. Cutler took 10 hits and was sacked six times.
The blame should be passed around here. Coordinator Mike Martz should have had a game plan designed just to exploit a defense that left its corners and safeties on islands all afternoon. The receivers should have been able to take advantage of the one-on-one matchup those blitzes created. Cutler should have done a better job of getting the ball out earlier and on target. The tight ends and running backs should have picked up those extra rushers.
And of course, the offensive line should have done a better job working in unison to keep their quarterback upright. With Lance Louis out at Gabe Carimi going down before the half with a knee injury, the unit crumbled like a poorly stacked house of cards. New Orleans picked up five of its six sacks in the final two quarters, three of them on consecutive plays. Opposing defensive coordinators would be fools not to constantly blitz this offense going forward, as they obviously have no answer for it.
Defense couldn't stop Saints' most-potent weapons
In Week 1, the Bears' defense did a great job of shutting down WR Roddy White, Atlanta's biggest weapon in the passing game, and workhorse RB Michael Turner. The keys for Chicago this week were to limit the effectiveness of RB Darren Sproles and TE Jimmy Graham. Both are matchup nightmares for which a defense must be fully prepared.
The Saints were without their best receiver, Marques Colston, and Lance Moore was hobbled by a hamstring injury. They were down two big weapons, which should have allowed Chicago to concentrate more on Graham and Sproles. Instead, the two combined for 14 catches, 112 yards and a touchdown. In the second half, Graham repeatedly beat Bears linebackers and safeties, owning the middle of the field, especially on third downs. It was the effectiveness of those two that resulted in 30 points against.
Kellen Davis was egregiously underused
Tight end Kellen Davis was targeted just one time on Sunday, a pass that was overthrown and fell incomplete. That is outrageous. The Bears had injury issues up front and the coaches obviously felt they needed to keep him in to help in pass protection. Yet he didn't do well pass blocking and gave up a sack that nearly cost the Bears a safety.
The following scenario may have been wiser, yet obviously wasn't even considered: Instead of keeping Davis in to pick up blitzers, run him five yards down the field and have him turn toward the quarterback. Cutler then throws a high pass that only Davis can grab. He then drags three defenders for an extra four yards. Rinse and repeat, over and over and over. There's no way any of the Saints linebackers or safeties could stop that play consistently and it would have gotten the ball out of Cutler's hands quickly. Instead, he stayed inside and had no impact on the game.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.