What I'm accustomed to seeing from the Bears up until this game is an uninspired series of offensive plays. Run, pass run. The opponent's defense can figure it out after the first few minutes of the game. Yesterday however, it was a free for all. There were dramatic plays and new schemes. It confused the Cardinal defense and resulted in some big gains for the Bears. Where did these plays come from and why haven't we seen them from the Bears before?
The second quarter wasn't as productive as the first and for a time I was worried that the Bears were going back to their bad old ways. The Justin Gage touchdown that was nullified was an excellent play, but other than that the offense seemed to stall.
During the third quarter, the Bears were still hanging in there, but with a 7-3 lead; there wasn't any comfort level. The Cardinals could have come back at anytime. But by the end of the third, things seemed to kick into gear again. Brock Forsey had big plays for gains of significant yardage. This momentum was carried through into he beginning of the fourth quarter as Kordell Stewart passed 10 yards to Dez White for the TD.
From then, on it was the Bears game. Stewart scrambled for a score. Forsey had a touchdown. The final score of 28-3 would have been even higher if Gage's TD reception hadn't been called back by the penalty.
The offensive total was 154 yards rushing in 36 attempts, an average of 4.3 yards per play. Passing, Stewart had 37 attempts, 22 completions for 284 yards. His rating was 101.6. Hooray! In pass receiving, there were a total of 22 attempts for 284 yards, a very respectable average of 12.9 yards per play.
Gage had a wonderful game with 4 receptions for 100 yards. Forsey stepped up to gain 134 yards on the ground and 27 in the air. The rookies had to play big and that's exactly what they did.
Kordell went 6-6 in his first passing attempts. Then he slowed somewhat to 4-8 but he was still able to keep the offense going enough to come out on top.
I'm wondering if Stewart has the same capability on the line that Chris Chandler does. Chandler and Payton Manning are very similar in that both are practically giving a speech to their teams before the play starts. I see Payton up there talking to his linemen and to his receivers. Chandler is quite similar. He has total control at the line. With Kordell, he seems to set and go. But Stewart played well. He found a number of different receivers in different situations.
There were some questionable third and long calls, the kind of plays I thought had gone out of style after Gary Crowton. It was too difficult for the offensive linemen to get in front of the wide receivers and protect them. Arizona's CBs were tipped off and could break up the plays quite easily. When those calls were first introduced, they fooled defensive players for about a year. That was quite a while ago.
I also question some of the plays on 2nd and one. To me, that is the time to go for broke. It's a throwaway down so why not try a good fake, or a playaction pass? Send one of our receivers downfield and confuse the defense. I can't remember the last time that the Bears did that.
Chicago's defense played a wonderful game. Again, they stepped up, shut down the Arizona offense, and gave the Bears offense time on the field. They were intimidating. They played with passion and skill, just like the old Monsters of the Midway. And once again, I continue to be impressed by the professionalism of rookies Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. They are free spirits who just let 'er rip. Their positive mentality sparks the entire team.
Looking ahead, here's what we have. On defense, Washington is 26th; Minnesota is 28th and Kansas City if 25th. On offense however, the Vikings are #1,the Chiefs are #3 . Washington right now is ranked #26 on offense.
Green Bay is next on the schedule and I think this is a winnable game. Their defense is ranked 21st in the division. Arizona's was ranked 19th coming into yesterday's game. On offense the Packers are #4. If the Bears defense can keep Green Bay's offense off of the field, then the Bears have a good chance. Brett Favre is vulnerable but you have to go after him nonstop.
The key to these remaining games lies both in the ability of the Bears defense and in the creativity of our offensive play calling. Can the defense continue to make big plays? Can they keep the other team's offense off of the field?
Chandler or Stewart needs significant game time to have a chance for a win. And when the Bears do get the ball, the big question will be can Shoop rise to the occasion? If he does, then these last few games will be well worth watching.