The Bears are now 3-4 and two games back of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. With back-to-back road games against the Patriots and Packers next on the schedule, Tim Jennings says the club is in the midst of an identity crisis.
“We have no identity,” Jennings said after the game. “At this point in the season you want to have some idea of who you are. It’s just frustrating. It’s not just on myself. Every man has to come in and do your job and execute your job. If you just take care of yourself first, everybody will be where they are supposed to be and be more accountable.”
Defensively, the Bears allowed Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill to complete his first 14 passes of the game, which are tied for the most of any NFL quarterback in the past five years. The unit also gave up 137 rushing yards, 48 to Tannehill, who repeatedly gouged the defense with Miami’s read option.
“That’s just tough about the zone read, there are so many options the offenses have. You have so many options,” said Jennings. “They executed and we didn’t.”
The schizophrenic nature of this team has obviously worn on both Bears fans and players. From week to week, it’s nearly impossible to predict which team is going to show up, the one that thoroughly dominated the Atlanta Falcons on the road in Week 6 or the one that sleep walked through yesterday’s contest.
“We don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know right now. We’re going to go back to the film and try to figure it out,” Jennings said. “We just have to find our identity, find out who we are. That’s on every man on himself right now. Coaches are putting us in pretty good positions to execute plays but we’re just not executing to the best of our ability. We’ve got to re-focus. Every man needs to evaluate themselves first.”
-Field conditions were horrendous at Soldier Field, as they are every year around mid-season. Before the game, bald spots of dirt peppered the turf, as if the PGA Tour had just concluded a four-day tournament. Players slid and tripped all over the field on Sunday, with the turf monster getting more tackles than Shea McClelin (2).
“The field is not going to change,” Jennings said. “All you have to do is adapt to it.”
-Kyle Long took a lot of negative feedback following his post-game comments about Bears fans booing the team.
“I don’t know if upset is the word I would use,” Long said. “As somebody who is blood, sweat and tears like a lot of these guys in the locker room, to be getting booed at home when you’re walking off the field down two possessions is unacceptable, especially when there’s not a lot of noise being made on third down, period.”
Long, one of the most emotional players on the team, was asked the question immediately following a demoralizing home defeat. It’s not surprising he let his emotions get the best of him but he should know better than to criticize the fans after a team performance like yesterday’s.
“I feel like we let [the fans] down,” said Jennings. “Not only ourselves but the biggest disappointment is from us. We don’t want to come in here and lose on our home turf. Then to suddenly have your fans boo like that, it adds to the toughness of disappointment. Of course we’re disappointed in ourselves but I also feel like we disappointed our fans on top of that. We’ve just got to re-focus and figure out a way to win at home.”
The Bears are now 0-3 at Soldier Field this season.
-Matt Forte had two carries in the first half against the Dolphins and finished with just 12 carries for 49 yards.
“We had some runs called and they went into certain fronts that just forced us to get out,” head coach Marc Trestman said. “We had a couple of bubbles, you know those little kick outs to the side, where they were overloading on this inside to take away the runs. When you see that happen it’s usually because they’ve taken the run away and we’re going to go ahead and throw it outside to get the single coverage.”
The inability to get the run game going, and the insistence of both Trestman and Jay Cutler to continually abandon the run this season, has played a huge role in the inconsistency of the offense this year.
“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” Forte said. “We put our defense in bad positions and gave their offense short fields. They did a great job. On some of those turnovers they gave up just three points, twice. We can’t do that.”
Not only does calling just two runs make the offense one dimensional, it diminishes the value of play action. Against the Falcons, Cutler went 11 for 14 (142.6 QB rating) on play-action throws. Against the Dolphins, the Bears ran just four play-action passes.
-Cornerback Kyle Fuller, arguably the best defender on the team, broke his hand and suffered a hip pointer in yesterday’s contest. How these injuries will impact his ability to play this season has yet to be determined but don’t be surprised if he misses a few games, at least.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.