Brutally honest

Chuck Mather served as offensive coach for the Bears from 1958-1965. He has long since retired from the world of football, but he still is passionate about the game and the Bears.

49-7? I couldn't believe it. Sunday's fiasco had to have been one of the worst games I've ever seen. This is not the way that the Bears want to start out their season.

The offense just couldn't make any plays and they couldn't hold on to the ball. That puts the defense at a tremendous disadvantage. Brian Urlacher can't be on the field for every play.

Winning a game is a team effort. You have to have cooperation. When one side of the ball is weak, then the other has to be strong. The offense has three primary jobs: to hold on to the ball; to put points on the board; and to give the defense a chance to get off the field. The Bears offense played for 21:59. San Francisco had the ball for 38:01.

The defense has to hold the opponent to as few points as possible. They try to get the ball back when the other team has it. I read that the total yards gained by the Bears offense was 127. San Francisco gained 391. Jeff Garcia was never sacked. There was one interception of a San Francisco pass. That's incredible.

The Bears had 8 first downs and the 49ers had 23. Eight first downs? There were 3 interceptions and 3 fumbles. You can add in 5 sacks for Stewart as well. That's no way to win a game.

I felt that the 49er defense was able to read every play that Stewart was running. At one point, I noticed that a San Francisco safety crossed the entire width of the field because he saw Kordell Stewart looking for a receiver. That was one of the first interceptions. Play after play it was 3 and out or two and out for the Bears. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong and any mistake they made resulted in a score for the 49ers.

The other factor that I noticed was that Stewart didn't seem to be looking for his second or third receiver. He would go after one guy and throw the ball even if his receiver was in double coverage. That is quite different from what the usual offensive plan is and certainly a radical change from our offensive philosophy with the '63 team.

In 63 we had three top receivers Bo Farrington, Johnny Morris and Mike Ditka. Morris would run 18 yards down the field. Ditka would go ten yards and Farrington ran for the post. Bill Wade had a lot of options. He usually could find one of those players open. That gave us a tremendous advantage as it kept the opposing defense guessing. Although Wade threw fairly short, he had enough options to make the play.

We had two main types of passes. The sponge pass was a softer ball that went to Morris. The steel ball went to Ditka. That was thrown very hard and was difficult to intercept. The receivers would go down and hook, go down and break in or go down field and break out. We shifted to the left or to the right depending on the team we were playing.

When Kordell Stewart came to the Bears, people were talking about well he could move and how the offensive game plan would be opened up to play to his strengths. I've seen many mobile quarterbacks, and what I saw Sunday doesn't compare. One of the best was Fran Tarkenton.

The Vikings got their first NFL victory against the Bears because of Fran. He would go from one side of the field to the other, back and forth. You never knew where he would turn next. Our defense just couldn't get a hand on him. At one point in that game we had Minnesota on a third and 29. My spotter Luke Johnsos called down from the booth and said ‘coach we're in real trouble now.' I said ‘what do you mean? It's third and 29.'

Sure enough, Tarkenton scrambled all over the place on the very next play. I could see Doug Atkins lunging for him and missing. That never happened. Tarkenton got that ball off and they scored. Did anyone see that happening Sunday?

One of the ‘new' offensive plans called for both Anthony Thomas and Adrian Peterson running the ball. Exactly where did they run? Did I miss something? The average was 2.8 per carry. Not very impressive.

I wondered at the time why they kept getting sent up the middle. Peterson seems able to read the field and to make quick cuts. If you want to go somewhere, let him sweep outside. How can you get rushing yards with the scheme that was in place Sunday?

There's a lot of work to be done from here. There is weakness at every position. The offensive line should take a look at themselves and get a better system going. Where is their communication? I realize that there were some of the younger players in there, but this is basic football. If you see that a blitz is coming, you protect the quarterback. If he doesn't have time to throw or if he has to scramble on every play, he'll miss his receiver.

The defense was embarrassing. Garcia seemed to be able to throw at will and most of his receivers were untouched. Special teams? Fumbles. Blocked kicks. Enough said about that.

It's not time to give up This was the first game of a very long season so there is time to take care of things. I just hope that the team and the coaches realize the importance of the upcoming game against the Vikings. If the Bears pull together and turn things around, they can go on and have a productive season. If they lose in another blowout, then 2003-4 could easily be disastrous.

This is a free preview of what will be a weekly section throughout the season. During the course of the year Chuck Mather will breakdown the Bears win or lose. However, next week his thoughts will be on the premium section. Subscribe now by calling 1-800-728-6501.

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