Offensive play by the Bears opened up. Again, I believe this is because Shoop was able to observe the entire field of play. Offensively, I felt that there was a better scheme overall. The Bears are finally using their wide receivers. White, Merritt, Booker and Terrell performed well. TE Desmond Clark had a very good game.
White had a particularly productive afternoon with 5 receptions for 91 yards, an average of 18.2 yards per play. Dez really had to step up his level of play when Booker went down and that's exactly what he did.
Overall, the Bears averaged 5.5 yards per pass to the Saints 5.3. That one long completion to White on a first down was spectacular. Dez was wide open and the Saints defense was taken by surprise. It was fabulous.
Kordell didn't have one of his better days. I felt that in most of the series, he simply held on to the ball way too long. I read in the papers this morning that Gerry Angelo cited Stewart as one of those "players you win with" as opposed to a "player that you win because of." If that's what he said, then I'm wondering why Stewart was hired in the first place.
I never want to verbally attack a player, but I've never had any hesitation about criticizing coaches or general managers. Kordell Stewart was a known quantity when the Bears hired him. If his abilities were not going to fit into the Bears system, then he shouldn't have been signed.
Some of the things that went wrong were not Stewart's fault. I'm thinking, for instance, of the bad snap. Kordell had no control over that. The same thing happened to me when I was a center in the 60's. I looked up while I was in my stance and there was Deacon Jones looming over me. I shifted my stance to compensate and snapped the ball about 5 yards over our punter's head.
I saw the same thing happen to Olin Kreutz yesterday. There was a shift on the Saints line and a defensive player moved in on Olin. Kreutz started to look up and in doing so, arched his back slightly, that realigned his body and threw off the direction of the snap. There was nothing that Kordell could have done to prevent this.
There were no interceptions yesterday but there were three sacks for a total of 21 negative yards. That tells me that the offensive line is still not in sync. There's a definite lack of communication there which, again, I put on the coaches.
These players have not been properly prepared. To protect the quarterback there has to be good communication on the line. Each player has to be able to anticipate the others' moves. That just wasn't happening. The end result was that the Saints defense could penetrate through to Kordell.
By the end of the game, the Bears had a total of 271yards to the Saints 283. Not too bad, but it could be much better. Generally, that's not nearly enough to be dominant in the NFL. Those figures show me that neither team was particularly strong offensively. It is also an indication that questionable penalties made a difference in the outcome.
The referees completely controlled the pace of this game. That's something that never should have happened. As a generalization, officials tend to have big egos. They tend to be very self-important. Many of them like a lot of TV face time and they definitely got it during this game. Urlacher made some remarks after the game about the officiating that will probably earn him a fine, but what he said was certainly justified. I know that I saw things that made me cringe.
For example: One second was put back on the clock at the end of the first half after the Saints had been penalized. That allowed New Orleans to score a field goal and put a stop to a good defensive effort by the Bears.
As far as the Bears defense was concerned, the most blatant thing I saw were two bad calls on Charles Tillman. He wasn't pushing, he was being pushed. The penalties were called on the wrong team. Was Tillman a target because he was a rookie? Probably.
It gets worse. There was an illegal man down field call on the Saints early in the third quarter that negated one of the New Orleans touchdowns. After a full minute of deliberation, the refs gave the Saints the score.
Even when a call was in the Bears favor, things didn't go well. At one point Chicago was given a quick first down by the officials when a measurement could have been called for. That extra time would have given Chicago's offense at least a few seconds to regroup before their next play.
Maybe the rules have changed since I played, but I don't think they have changed that much. Mostly it is a matter of interpretation by the officials. I would hope that they would stop being so concerned their television time and just let the game progress.
Next on the Bears schedule is an away game in Seattle. Not an encouraging thought. If the coaches give our players a fighting chance, maybe things will turn out well. It's all comes down to preparation and good play calling. Our guys have the ability to win. They need confidence and some direction. There has to be a workable game plan and thorough preparation. That's the responsibility of the Bears coaches, Whether or not they can get this team ready for Seattle remains to be seen.
Beth Gorr contributed to this story.