The Chicago Bears offense on Sunday struggled to move the ball consistently against the Detroit Lions.
The offense had just 298 total yards, its lowest output since Week 10 and the fewest yards since QB Matt Barkley took over under center three weeks ago. The Bears were only 4-for-10 on 3rd down, 0-for-1 on 4th down and 0-for-1 in red-zone efficiency.
The inability of the offense to find its rhythm dug the Bears an early hole. At halftime, Chicago had just 107 total yards and 59 passing yards from Barkley.
The unit played better in the second half but, when the game was on the line, Bears offensive players took turns shooting themselves in the foot, resulting in the team's 10th loss of the season.
When it was all said and done, Chicago's offense found the end zone just once at Ford Field.
I sat down with the game film from Sunday's loss. Here's what I found.
-First pass of the game, Lions blitz. It was an immediate signal as to the type of pressure Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin would bring all afternoon. The A-gap blitz is picked up well by RB Jordan Howard. Lions are called for offsides due in large part to C Cody Whitehair snapping the ball just as the ILB crossed the line of scrimmage, who prematurely rushed forward on the blitz.
-First run play, RG Ted Larsen is driven five yards into the backfield by DT Haloti Ngata. At the same time, RT Bobby Massie barely gets a hand on the OLB, who crashes into the backfield and drops Howard for 2-yard loss.
-3rd and 3: Lions use a Double Mug blitz, crashing two linebackers into the A gap. Barkley fires a quick pass to Daniel Brown running an out route off the right hash. The pass barely fits inside a tight window and Brown makes the diving catch for a first down. This was a very accurate, well-timed pass by Barkley, with Brown securing the tough grab in traffic.
-1st and 10: Howard rushes off-tackle left. LT Charles Leno and LG Josh Sitton double team the DE at the snap. Leno turns him outside, while Sitton peels off and seals the LB inside at the second level. This creates a huge hole for Howard, who races down the left side for a 28-yard gain. The double-team zone transition by Leno and Sitton on this play was executed flawlessly.
-WR Cameron Meredith is dangerous after the catch. He caught a handful of bubble screens in this game and got positive yards each time, using his length and long strides to put the offense in manageable late-down situations.
-3rd and 1: Howard rushes up the middle. Whitehair and Larsen double team Ngata at the snap and get good push. Whitehair then clears to the second level, locks up LB Josh Bynes and puts the linebacker on his butt. The power Whitehair generates on the snap is exceptional.
-After two straight red-zone penalties, the Bears attempt a screen on 2nd down. Howard gets caught inside among his offensive linemen, four of which are surrounding just one defender. The timing of the screen is thrown off and the pass falls incomplete. Barkley immediately gives his teammates an earful.
-3rd and 15: Barkley looks to Meredith running an out route off the left hash. It's zone coverage by the Lions. S Rafael Bush rushes up the hash at the snap until he's a few yards inside of Meredith, but Barkley never sees the defender because he's dangerously staring down his receiver. The safety jumps Meredith's quick out and the ball hits him in the hands, but Bush drops the sure interception. The incompletion stalls a promising drive and the Bears have to settle for 3 points.
-1st and 10 from the 4-yard line: Bears execute a play-action fake and Barkley drops into his own end zone. Leno gives up pressure off the left edge and Barkley has to step up in the pocket. With defender's in his face and both feet in the end zone, Barkley fires a strike to WR Deonte Thompson running a slow-developing dig route on the left sideline. The play results in a 24-yard completion. The poise Barkley shows on this play is impressive, while the play-action fake pulled the entire Lions front seven forward, creating ample space for Thompson to get open.
-FB Paul Lasike struggled in this game. His awareness at the line of scrimmage was lacking and he could not consistently sustain blocks. On a number of snaps during this contest, Lasike locked up a defender as a lead blocker, only to have the defender immediately shed the block and make the tackle.
-3rd and 11: Lions blitz up the middle. RB Jeremy Langford picks it up. Detroit sends a late blitzer as well, who comes free. Barkley stands in and delivers the pass just before he's hit. The ball goes right through WR Josh Bellamy's hands for his first drop of the day. Bears punt.
-Howard rushes up the gut and he runs into a brick wall named Ngata. Howard drops immediately. During a very successful rookie season, this was by far the hardest hit Howard has taken. He hit the ground faster than he has all year.
-Two plays later, Howard delivers a brutal forearm shot to DE Ziggy Ansah, which knocks the defender out of the game until the second half. Clearly Howard didn't like being clobbered by Ngata and he took it out on Ansah. On the snap, Howard was dropped for a loss by Ngata, who once again plowed over Larsen.
-Four-minute drive, 3rd and 2: Barkley fires a deep pass to Bellamy on a crossing route. The pass hits Bellamy in the hands as he tiptoes inside the sideline, yet he bobbles the ball and cannot secure the pass before he falls out of bounds. Bears punt.
-First play of the second half: Play-action pulls the entire defense forward, opening up space for Bellamy on the intermediate cross. Barkley's pass is two feet over the receiver's head but Bellamy goes up and snatches it out of the air. This catch was much harder than the two he dropped previously. First down Bears.
-1st and 10: Howard takes the delayed handoff up the A gap. The interior hole opens while Larsen and Leno both lock up the second-level linebackers. This creates a huge hole for Howard, who picks up 31 yards on the ground.
-Next snap, Howard is dropped in the backfield by the ILB on a run blitz. Larsen, who had a great block on the previous play, was responsible for letting the blitzer through. To say Larsen had an up-and-down day is an understatement.
-2nd and 13: Bellamy makes a highlight-reel grab, elevating between three defenders to catch a pass four feet over his head. This was an extremely difficult catch.
-Bears touchdown: Lions put press coverage on Meredith on the outside, with 2-deep coverage on the back end. Meredith uses his hands and a head fake to gain an easy outside release. He then creates immediate separation. Barkley releases the downfield pass just as Meredith begins to accelerate. This pass is dropped in perfectly over the top of the cornerback and early enough to beat the closing safety. Meredith makes the catch in stride and falls into the end zone for the score. The timing and location of Barkley's pass on this play was perfect.
-3rd and 9: The Lions blitz up the middle and Howard doesn't recognize it, instead choosing to chip the LDE. The blitzer comes free and Barkley throws an ill-advised pass that hits the defender in both hands, but he drops it.
-1st and 10: I-formation, play action pass. Both Leno and Massie allow pressure off the edge. With defenders crashing in on both sides of him, Barkley panics and fires a pass over the middle that hits LB Tahir Whitehead in both hands, but he drops it. "Almost Interceptions" don't count on the stat sheet but in this game, Barkley threw three passes that should have been easily intercepted. If the Lions defenders had hung onto those three balls, this game would've been a rout.
-Barkley's only sack came after Leno was beat off the left side. Barkley was able to elude the defender but, on the right side, Massie stopped blocking DE Kerry Hyder, who cleans up the play and picks up the sack.
-2nd and 10: Bubble screen to Thompson is executed well. The Lions front seven is caught inside and there are four blockers in front of Thompson. Yet the pass is low, forcing Thompson to slide to make the catch. He gets up immediately but is tackled from behind after a short gain. This play had huge potential but the off-target pass by Barkley never allowed it to develop.
-1st and 10, Meredith drops a pass that hits him in both hands, negating a first-down reception.
-TE Daniel Brown had four catches during the final drive. Throughout the contest, Brown proved to be the most reliable target in Chicago's passing attack. Going forward, Brown could be a sleeper option next season as the team's No. 1 pass-catching tight end.
-Back-to-back holding penalties on Leno and Larsen negate gains of 27 and 23 yards, both of which would have put the Bears into field goal range. Leno's penalty moved the ball from the Detroit 16-yard line all the way to the Chicago 47-yard line.
-4th and 11 from the Detroit 44: Barkley's pass hits Bellamy in the shoulder pads and falls incomplete. It was a tough catch for Bellamy but one that was much easier than his two previous receptions. Bellamy's three drops came on 3rd, 3rd and 4th down, ending all three drives.null