Noots' Notes: Game 4

The Bears fell 19-9 at Soldier Field to the Philadelphia Eagles in a game nobody gave them a chance to be in. Without Rex Grossman to lead the offense, the Bears struggled mightily to establish anything positive. Let's take a closer look at the different personnel groups and how they performed.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Jonathan Quinn (26-43-215, TD) started and finished the game. On the positive side, he didn't turn the ball over by fumbling or throwing an interception. He generally made good decisions with the football, and was throwing to open receivers. The Bears' lone touchdown came on a rollout pass from Quinn to Bryan Johnson for 2 yards. Quinn's problem was that he had difficulty being accurate with even the shortest of passes. In fact, some of his completions in the short areas could have turned into big gains if he could have led the receivers instead of throwing behind them, far too high, and far too low. This wasn't an example of maybe 4 or 5 poorly thrown passes. Quinn's performance was a putrid display of inaccuracy that resulted in countless 3 and outs. It called to mind previous Bear disasters like McNown and Mirer. At least Quinn had a good idea of where to go with the ball and got rid of it in good time. He did take a couple of sacks. At least one of them was his own fault on a blitz over the right side that everyone picked up except for a defensive back, which he should have identified immediately. He has a lot of years of rust as an excuse for the inaccuracy, but patience with the degree of inaccuracy he displayed quickly wore thin with the Soldier Field faithful. Although he has Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea's backing, the patience there isn't likely to last long if this continues. GRADE: D-

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (13/32, 6-40) had little opportunity to establish himself running the ball. The few carries he had in the first half were quickly bottled up except for a draw that went for 12 yards as the half was ending. Jones again showed his value as a receiver, helping to move the offense and giving Quinn something short and close to fling the ball at. He made a few very good catches for short yardage. Fullback Bryan Johnson (4-11, TD) made some good blocks for Jones, especially a lead block he made on a 4th and 1 carry that resulted in a first down. Johnson caught a short pass in the end zone for a touchdown. Anthony Thomas did not get any reps. GRADE: C-

Receivers

David Terrell (9-116) had one of his most productive games. He caught everything thrown to him, and made some good moves as well. On the down side, he and Bobby Wade were flagged for an illegal shift. Additionally, on a 14-yard catch on 2nd and 18, he just fell to the turf instead of turning upfield for yardage (shades of last season). Bernard Berrian was a frequent deep target, but seldom open, and never able to come down with the ball. He was flagged for not being set late in the game, when the Bears were out of time outs. Is he a rookie struggling to find his way, or does he have poor game instincts? Bear fans have already lost patience with him. Bobby Wade (4-36) had a good game, catching everything reasonably thrown in his area. Desmond Clark (2-11) and Dustin Lyman (1-1) had several opportunities but rarely came down with catches, mostly because Quinn couldn't deliver to them accurately. Reese made a keen deflection of a pass to Clark in the end zone. Lyman was open in the seam several times for what would have been 15-20 yard gains. The Bear receivers were open. They just needed someone to get the ball to them. GRADE: C+

Offensive Line

Jonathan Quinn enjoyed most of the game without facing a big pass rush. The Eagles entered the game leading the NFL with 14 sacks. John Tait neutralized Jevon Kearse. Kearse moved to the other side to test Qasim Mitchell for a few plays, and didn't fair any better. It appeared that Mitchell might have been beaten for a sack late in the game, but it's debatable. Mitchell had someone lined up in both his inside and outside gaps, and the protection appeared to be to his inside. He blocked the player he called out. Perhaps that wasn't supposed to be his assignment. Regardless, the player outside of Mitchell sacked Quinn without contest. Overall, run blocking was average at best although untested. Pass blocking was good. Mike Gandy started at right guard after missing two weeks. Olin Kreutz was strong in the middle, and handled many shotgun snaps without incident. The Bears didn't lose this game because of the play of the offensive line. GRADE: B-


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Brian Westbrook (23/115, 9-63), much like Onterrio Smith last week, met little resistance from the Bears' defensive line. Most of the tackles made against him came from defensive backs and linebackers. He gained big chunks of yardage (2 carries for 40 yards) over left tackle, where Alex Brown was either running past the play or getting ridden to the sideline. It should be pointed out that Alex Brown (1 tackle, sack) registered his first sack of the season, but he was a huge liability in the run game. Tommie Harris (4 tackles) tied up Donovan McNabb's feet long enough on one play for fellow rookie Tank Johnson (1 tackle, sack) to get a sack. Harris applied a key pressure on McNabb in the red zone to force an incomplete pass on 3rd and 16. Adewale Ogunleye (4 tackles) had several key pressures, and also a tackle for loss on a draw to Westbrook. He cost the Bears 30 yards with two penalties (facemask, roughing the quarterback). The latter call was questionable. Michael Haynes (3 tackles) had a couple of pressures as well, and was a little more active and stout than the other ends against the run. After he made penetration, he took good pursuit angles along the heels of the defenders to the football. Someone should point this out. Ian Scott (6 tackles) started the game next to Tommie Harris at defensive tackle. He did get pressure on McNabb once. Israel Idonije and Shurron Pierson saw a few snaps of action but were not factors. Overall, the line provided a decent amount of pressure on McNabb, but he made good throws and his receivers made good catches and runs. The run defense was porous. GRADE: D

Linebackers

Hunter Hillenmeyer (9 tackles, 2 PD, TFL) started at middle linebacker for Brian Urlacher (hamstring). Hillenmeyer made a couple of big plays. He correctly diagnosed an Eagles play and deflected a pass that Nathan Vasher was able to intercept. He also had another deflection on a blitz, which lead to another McNabb incompletion (there weren't that many of them). He applied good pressure on the blitz, and did register a tackle for loss on Westbrook on a key 3rd and 1 carry. Lance Briggs (10 tackles, PD, 2 TFL) had an up and down game. His day started well as he was a captain out for the coin toss. He made at least 2 tackles for losses and provided good pressure when he blitzed. He also delivered a punishing hit on Mitchell over the middle to separate him from a reception. But just as it plagued him and the defense last week; missed tackles were very costly. Briggs took poor angles to the ball and it proved costly in several misses on Westbrook as well as McNabb. Joe Odom (1 tackle) had another quiet game on the strong side, and Marcus Reese (1 tackle) saw some action there as well. Reese was blocked out of the way on a 26-yard run that first got past Alex Brown. Unsure tackling in all phases and uneven play against the run from this group were a key factor in keeping many long Eagles drives alive. GRADE: D+

Secondary

Rookie Nathan Vasher (3 tackles, INT, PD) got his first start of the season. He accounted relatively well for himself, especially considering the Eagles had averaged roughly 290 passing yards per contest going into the game, and the Bears' offense was quickly punting the ball back to the Eagles. Vasher came close to an interception early with a good break on the ball. He later had the coverage on Terrell Owens' (8-110, TD) touchdown reception. Vasher was in the right place at the right time and made a play to intercept McNabb (24-38-237, TD, INT, 1/2) on a deflection from Hillenmeyer. Vasher should be proud. Not only was it his first career interception, but it was also McNabb's first of the season. R.W. McQuarters had Owens for most of the game and had tight coverage for much of it except a 44-yard pass along the sideline. McQuarters (8 tackles) made several big stops on Westbrook, one of them a big hit on a short pass, and the other a tackle for no gain. Mike Green (7 tackles, 2 PD) pitched in a tackle for a 4-yard loss and a pass breakup on a ball to Lewis. Safeties Cameron Worrell and Bobby Gray played but were not factors (Gray left with cramps). Todd Johnson (5 tackles) started opposite Green and was especially quiet, except for a completion he gave up along the sideline. The Bears' secondary did a better job tackling this week, and picked up a turnover. Many of McNabb's completions were to the running backs. GRADE: C


SPECIAL TEAMS

Nathan Vasher erased much of the good he did at cornerback with a big negative on a punt return. He bumped into R.W. McQuarters as he was trying to fair catch a punt, which resulted in a turnover. Bernard Berrian had plenty of opportunities to return kickoffs and had good numbers to show for it. He's still not looking fluid returning the ball however, and appears to be lacking instincts for when he should be running, slashing, not running up the backs of his blockers, and more. He appeared to have forgotten he was needed to return a punt and was late getting onto the field. Brad Maynard's punting was one of the few bright spots for the Bears through the first half. Paul Edinger hit his only field goal attempt (25 yards). Kick and punt coverage was good, highlighted by Todd McMillon making a big hit on a punt just inside the 20 for no gain. The turnover on special teams changed the way the Bears played the game, and likely took them out of being able to run the ball. GRADE: D


COACHING

The Bears were able to cut down on the penalties that plagued them the previous week. The magnitude of the penalties and mental errors was still great. From a play calling perspective, the offensive plan was not very good. Too much early emphasis was put on passing. Philadelphia runs many of the blitzing schemes the Packers run, and the Bears only threw about 20 passes in that game. Why they didn't try to run more at an Eagles defense that had allowed 5.4 yards per carry with their newly found running attack is a mystery. It's also curious because it was painfully obvious that Jonathan Quinn was acutely inaccurate. The insistence on making Bernard Berrian a key point of the offense while Justin Gage is forgotten is also questionable. Justin Gage is to Lovie Smith as Marcus Robinson was to Dave Wannstedt. On defense, it's hard to be too critical of the coaching considering the sheer volume of players lost to injury and the interminable amount of time they had to remain on the field (the Eagles won time of possession at roughly 37 minutes to 23). Nobody expected the Bears to win this game. The final result is probably just about where everyone though it would be. GRADE: C-


GAME BALLS

Bryan Johnson
David Terrell
John Tait
Nathan Vasher

_HORNS

Jonathan Quinn
Nathan Vasher
Bernard Berrian

HARDEST HITS

Thomas on Wade
Briggs on Mitchell



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