Noots' Notes: Game 3

Injuries and penalties piled up in a heart-breaking loss for the Bears in Minnesota. Quarterback Rex Grossman (knee) was among the casualties. The Vikings were a heavy favorite going into the game. The Bears battled toe to toe with them for most of it, but in the end, the Vikings prevailed.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Rex Grossman (21-31-246, 3/20, TD, fumble) had his best game of the young season. He wasn't called on to roll out as much, but did use his feet to buy him time when he needed it. Grossman also saw some running lanes and took them when his receivers were covered. Grossman also displayed excellent touch on the ball hitting Jones and Johnson on the shorter routes, while gunning a 32-yard rope to Justin Gage over the deep middle near the end of the game. On the down side, a few of his passes to the out routes were a little soft. His fumble at the Vikings' 11-yard line took them out of scoring position (although the Bears got the ball back on the next play). Grossman scored a touchdown on a scramble around right end for 6 yards as the game approached the 2-minute warning. The play was originally ruled a fumble, but it was reviewed and reversed. As he was cutting to avoid a defender and dove for the end zone, his right foot caught the turf and he twisted his knee. The Bears had one more possession and Jonathan Quinn relieved Grossman. Quinn seemed locked on Justin Gage on all of his attempts, and ignored the 5 yards he needed for a first down. He was inaccurate, and eventually got sacked on 4th and 5. GRADE: B

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (22/110, TD, fumble, 8-71) followed up his fine performance in Green Bay with a stellar display in Minnesota. He's really rounding out into the kind of all-purpose threat that many envisioned he would be when he first entered the league. In an ironic reversal of roles, he made a great block to allow Grossman time to find Bryan Johnson on a swing pass for a key first down. Jones showed great power and burst on a run up the middle at the end of the first half. He did drop a couple of difficult to handle passes over the middle, but still managed to haul in 8 others. He patiently allowed the right side to open for his short touchdown run. Jones put the ball on the ground once but the Bears recovered. Bryan Johnson (1-10) wasn't as heavily involved in the passing game, but played a good number of downs as the lead blocker for many of Jones' big runs. Anthony Thomas (2/2) had a decent 6-yard run on his first carry. His only other carry was a big 4-yard loss when he couldn't avoid a defender that squirted through on a run blitz. GRADE: B+

Receivers

Bobby Wade (1/14, 4-71) had an excellent game. He caught everything thrown to him, including an over-the-shoulder 40-yard toss that Grossman laid up perfectly. He also made people miss as he took an end around 14 yards. David Terrell made the key block on Wade's run. Terrell (2-25) drew what appeared to be a key pass interference call on a 3rd down. The officials reversed their original call because they believed the ball was tipped (it wasn't). He made a nice grab for medium yardage over the middle. Bernard Berrian (2-12) caught a couple of short passes. Justin Gage (1-32) caught a pass over the deep middle to set up a score. Tight ends Dustin Lyman (2-16) and John Gilmore (1-11) did a solid job of blocking, but weren't as much of a factor in the game. Desmond Clark hurt his ankle in practice during the week and didn't play much. He was in the game enough to mess up a 1st and goal situation by jumping offsides. It was one of several red zone opportunities the Bears squandered (they settled for a field goal on this one). There were no big drops, and a few big plays. Overall, the group did a fairly good job. GRADE: B

Offensive Line

Rex Grossman generally had a good deal of time to survey the field and make plays in the pocket. Steve Edwards started at right guard for the injured Mike Gandy. He had a generally good game blocking both the run and pass. The sack he allowed to Williams at the end of the game was one of his few poor plays, although Quinn held the ball a bit long. Olin Kreutz had another strong game. He made a big block on a linebacker (D. Thomas) to spring Jones for a big run up the middle before the end of the first half, and was very active pulling on screens. Left guard Ruben Brown had a quiet but solid game in many regards. Tackles John Tait and Qasim Mitchell both played very well on both pass and run plays with only a rare breakdown. Tait went offsides on 3rd down in the red zone and then both he and Mitchell got beaten on the next play to force an incomplete pass. The consecutive miscues forced the Bears to settle for a field goal on their first possession. Mitchell kept another drive alive by alertly pouncing on a fumble that squirted out of Thomas Jones' possession. With 146 rushing yards (5.0 average) and 2 sacks allowed in 34 attempts, the Bears' line had a strong game. GRADE: B


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Onterrio Smith gored the Bears' defense for 94 yards on 17 carries. Some of that was because he was getting through the line, so blame must start there. Adewale Ogunleye (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR) had a dominating performance against the Vikings' backups. He started the game by drawing his opponent offsides, and then proceeded to make plays all over the field. He missed a sack early, and then came back to pick up two, while forcing a fumble on one of them. He made a statement for the defense when he followed up a Grossman fumble in the red zone by stealing the ball back from Smith on the following snap. He traveled from tackle to tackle to make that play. Ogunleye was called for a flagrant facemask as well. Rookie Tommie Harris (2 tackles) jumped offsides again. Israel Idonije worked into the tackle rotation and excelled at holding the point of attack and stringing out a run outside. Michael Haynes (2 tackles, TFL, FF) didn't have a great pass rush but made some big plays against the run. He forced a fumble on Kelly Campbell on a well-diagnosed reverse that Hunter Hillenmeyer recovered. The play started with Tank Johnson literally steamrolling the Vikings' center into the quarterback. Ian Scott saw considerable action, and on a hustle play ran Daunte Culpepper (19-30-360 2 TD) out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage for a sack. Alex Brown was on the field quite a bit but seemed to be just a step off from making plays against both the run and pass. Shurron Pierson had a pressure but also drew a penalty for jumping offsides. Three sacks in 30 attempts against a beat up offensive line aren't enough. The interior of Harris, Johnson and Scott rarely applied pressure on Culpepper. GRADE: D+

Linebackers

Brian Urlacher aggravated his hamstring injury and was forced to watch the game from the sidelines. He was sorely missed. Onterrio Smith (6-104) not only forced several missed tackles in the running game, but also caught numerous short passes that he turned into big gains. Hunter Hillenmeyer (5 tackles, FR, TFL) had a decent game as Urlacher's replacement, highlighted by his fumble recovery. He also got a hit in on Culpepper on a pass rush. Lance Briggs (5 tackles) had a very disappointing game. He didn't have many big hits, and missed several tackles that went for long gains. Joe Odom (2 tackles) and Marcus Reese split time on the strong side and didn't make an impact. There were long stretches where neither of them was on the field because the Bears played a lot of nickel and dime packages. Overall this group had a difficult time taking good angles in both the pass and run. A lot of it was their fault, although the schemes did not help the cause. GRADE: D

Secondary

R.W. McQuarters (5 tackles) had the main duties of working on Randy Moss (7-119, 2 TD). The numbers were ugly, but McQuarters' wasn't totally at fault. Both touchdowns were short passes. The first was a perfectly thrown jump ball and the second was a well executed crossing route that picked off the Bears' coverage. Todd McMillon (1 tackle, 1 PD) didn't completely embarrass himself, and knocked away a pass early in the game to Marcus Robinson (held without a catch). It would be easy to lay the blame at the feet of the Bear cornerbacks. But the Bears' safeties left a lot to be desired. Moss' longest reception was a 44-yard gain over the deep middle where Hillenmeyer wasn't able to make a play (he had a long way to run) and Cameron Worrell was too deep in his coverage to recover. Worrell forced a fumble, and also pitched in a missed tackle of Smith. He saw added time because Bobby gray suffered a neck stinger. Todd Johnson (7 tackles) got the start at free safety for Mike Brown (lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles). Johnson had a tough time. He was late with over the top coverage on a 40-yard bomb to Kelly Campbell, missed a tackle on a 63-yard reception by Nate Burleson, and drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for laying the lumber on Burleson over the middle. Strong safety Mike Green (5 tackles) didn't make many plays, and was used to blitz a great deal. There were too many missed tackles and glaring missed assignments from this group to be acceptable. The hits to the depth chart here were too much to overcome. GRADE: F+


SPECIAL TEAMS

Paul Edinger connected on 3 of 4 field goal attempts. His lone miss was a 39-yarder that he should have made. He had one of his better games at kickoff distance, getting most of them down to around the 5-yard line. Brad Maynard didn't have a good game. He only had two punting attempts, and when he had a chance to boom the ball he couldn't get much distance on it. Kickoff and punt coverage was below average, and that's without figuring in a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that was called back. Michael Haynes was flagged for a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty (even though it was assessed against number 57, Olin Kreutz). Shurron Pierson made an illegal block on a good kickoff return by Bernard Berrian. Berrian averaged 24 yards per kickoff return, even though he still doesn't completely look comfortable running with the ball. Bobby Gray made a tackle on a kickoff inside the 20-yard line. Adrian Peterson made a tackle in coverage as well. The Bears attempted a 2-point conversion that fell short. It appeared that the Vikings' Ken Mixon ("I am indeed a crook") was offsides well in advance of the snap and there was no penalty called. The Vikings missed an early field goal because of a poor hold by backup quarterback Gus Frerotte. Edinger's onside kickoff attempt was unsuccessful as the ball glanced off Justin Gage prior to traveling 10 yards. GRADE: D


COACHING

The Bears were penalized 14 times for 101 yards. This screams for discipline. A well disciplined team would have backups doing a better job of knowing their assignments. The penalties subtracted from several early drives that could have gone for touchdowns, and instead only resulted in field goal attempts. Through the early parts of the game, it appeared that Shea and Grossman were having trouble getting the plays in quickly enough. On defense, Ron Rivera was out coached. Yes, his team was undermanned. However, almost every time the Bears blitzed, the Vikings had a quick pass over the top or screen to audible into. A 3rd and 23 conversion into a first down was atrocious. The Vikings amassed 443 yards of offense. The Bears gave up another 100 plus penalty yards and were still in the game. Too many missed tackles and missed assignments. Let's hope Lovie Smith gets it through to his troops how close they really are to being a solid team. The difference is not that great. GRADE: D


GAME BALLS

Rex Grossman
Thomas Jones
Bobby Wade
Adewale Ogunleye

_HORNS

Lance Briggs
Todd Johnson
Cameron Worrell

HARDEST HITS

Burleson on Hillenmeyer
Todd Johnson on Burleson



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