Noots' Notes

The Bears could only muster 3 points on offense in a disappointing 13-10 loss to Washington at Soldier Field. Although the score indicates they were in the game all the way, few who witnessed the debacle felt they had any chance.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Jonathan Quinn (10-22-65, Int, 2/32) played from start to finish, and was very poor throughout. It would be a shocking display of stubbornness on the part of Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea if Jonathan Quinn is allowed many more chances to guide the Bear offense. Quinn again struggled to complete even the most routine of passes. Simple swing passes and out routes were overthrown or thrown so far that the receivers couldn't catch them inbounds. What made his performance even worse was his decision-making and lack of pocket presence. He frequently threw into double coverage. He has a high percentage of his passes batted down at the line in spite of being the NFL's tallest quarterback. Of the 4 quarterback sacks allowed, 3 of them could have been avoided if he had done a better job of either getting rid of the football on time or recognized a numbers mismatch in terms of blockers versus rushers. The best series of plays he had came immediately after he took a wicked shot on a good scramble for a nice gain. So he played adequately for a handful of plays that happened to be after he got his bell rung. Should we try to draw meaning from this? I hope not. This can't get any worse. Can it? GRADE: F

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (24/97, 2-22) played the entire game except for a single series. He struggled to find running room early in the game, and maybe was a bit indecisive. However, he didn't have many opportunities in the first half because the Bears were 0/6 on third downs. He started getting carries with regularity in the second half (17 second half carries for 75 yards) and started to break off some strong runs. Jones continues to make excellent blitz pickups. He also drew a big pass interference penalty late in the game. He was one of the only bright lights in an abysmal offensive display (like a firefly lost in the open sea). Bryan Johnson (1-1) did a decent job of blocking for Jones but wasn't a factor this week as a receiver. Anthony Thomas had one carry for a yard in his lone series. It was a solid effort by the runners against one of the better rush defenses in the NFL. GRADE: C

Receivers

It's very difficult to effectively evaluate a receiving corps when the quarterback is as acutely inaccurate as Quinn was Sunday. David Terrell (1-10) was flagged for an illegal block in the back to negate a rare first down. Desmond Clark had a very weak game. He struggled sealing off the edge in the run game throughout the first half. Clark dropped a pass to the sticks on a 3rd and 9 play. He also failed to pick up a blitzing Shawn Springs during one of the Bears final drives of the game. Clark was lined up outside of Quasim Mitchell on the left side, Mitchell easily had his man blocked, and Clark was not engaged with Mitchell's defender. He simply let Springs run past him to sack Quinn. Bobby Wade (4-17) dropped what looked like a well-developing screen. Justin Gage (1-9) and Bernard Berrian (1-6) played but were hardly factors. As poorly as Quinn played, he got no help from his receivers who dropped several passes, and did nothing to make anyone miss. GRADE: D

Offensive Line

Steve Edwards started at left guard for the injured Ruben Brown and did a good job pulling and leading up the hole for Jones. Mike Gandy played nearly the entire game on a hamstring he tweaked late during the week. He also played well, and made several key blocks on the move. Olin Kreutz started and finished at center after having elbow surgery during the bye week. He played well considering his recovery. Tackles John Tait and Qasim Mitchell held up very well in pass protection, and played up and down on the run. Overall, the Bears ran pretty well against a tough run defense. Pass protection was much better than the 4 sacks would indicate. As mentioned earlier, 2 or 3 of the sacks were Quinn's fault, one was a missed assignment by a tight end, and the other appeared to be a heads up reach that Kreutz was a tad late in picking up that came around the left end (Kreutz was the only uncovered lineman). All that said, they could have blocked the run a lot better in the first half. If they had, perhaps they could have put a field goal or two on the board in the first half, which would have made a difference in the game's outcome. GRADE: C+


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Onterrio Smith, Brian Westbrook, and now Clinton Portis (36/171, 1-11) have had huge games against the Bears' defense in consecutive games. Portis had plenty of opportunities to beat the Bears' defense. This was because the offense was so inept the Redskins had a two-to-one time of possession lead going into the second half, despite the Bears getting the ball to start the game. Alex Brown (6 tackles, 2 PD, 2 TFL) was a bright spot. He deflected two passes at the line, one of them turning into a defensive touchdown via an interception return. Brown stopped Portis for a key loss on a third and one. Adewale Ogunleye was a surprising nonfactor, rarely getting pressure. He left with an ankle injury when Portis stepped on the side of his foot. Michael Haynes got blocked wide on one of Betts' big runs. He also had two key pressures on Mark Brunell (8-22-95, TD, Int, 5/17) to force third down incompletions, and drew a false start. Ian Scott (6 tackles, 2 TFL) started at tackle and a couple of tackles for loss, but wasn't much of a factor rushing the passer. Tommie Harris (5 tackles, TFL) started at the other tackle and made a few plays against the run. It appeared he was being held quite a bit. Tank Johnson (3 tackles) had a knockdown on Brunell. Israel Idonije had one tackle, a crunching shot that knocked Portis out of the game for a short time. Although the line didn't have any sacks to show for it, they did a good job of pressuring Brunell into poor throws. They made a lot of tackles, but too many big chunks of yardage were allowed. Culpability for Washington's over 200 yards of rushing has to start here. GRADE: D

Linebackers

Brian Urlacher (12 tackles, sack) returned to the starting lineup. He didn't make many big plays, and was flagged for a 15-yard facemask penalty. The one sack he was credited with will likely be taken away, since it was made by someone else. It appeared he may have lost the coverage on Gardner's touchdown, although it's hard to tell for sure where the responsibility for it was. Hunter Hillenmeyer (2 tackles) started on the strong side, and had a quiet game against the run. He caught Brunell for a short loss which may get called a sack by scorekeepers later in the week. Additionally, he clearly wrapped up Brunell for a big loss late in the game that was somehow credited to Urlacher. Reviewing the tape, he should have been credited with 2 sacks but somehow came up empty. Lance Briggs (5 tackles, 2 PD) deflected several of Brunell's passes. Coverage underneath was good. However, the linebackers had a tough time getting blocked on cutbacks by Portis. Play along the edges of the field was absent several times, because of both scheme and poor play. GRADE: D

Secondary

Jerry Azumah returned as a nickel back. Although he had a few tentative moments, he went for the ball on a deflection by Alex Brown and took the interception 70 yards for the Bears' only touchdown. R.W. McQuarters (2 tackles, PD) and Nathan Vasher had strong games in coverage. McQuarters nearly had an interception as well. Vasher missed a key open field tackle on a big 3rd and 6 run by Betts. Todd Johnson (9 tackles) didn't appear to be himself. He didn't have any big hits, and was doing a lot of grabbing. Mike Green (8 tackles) only had one or two tackles near the line. Bobby Gray and Todd McMillon saw action but were not factors. The touchdown to Gardner was clearly a blown coverage. Although the Redskins didn't throw for many yards, there were several instances where Redskins receivers were running through the deep areas of the field without anyone covering them. Missed tackles didn't help this group. GRADE: B


SPECIAL TEAMS

Paul Edinger hit his lone field goal attempt from 46 yards. Brad Maynard had a pretty good game punting the ball. Heaven knows, he had the practice. The Bears punted 10 times. Coverage was exceptional; especially considering the dangerous Chad Morton is the Redskins' return specialist. Todd McMillon drew 3 penalties on punt teams. Marshall drew a flag as well. Returns were average, although the best return was McQuarters' 35-yard punt return near the end of the game. Too many penalties eroded field position. GRADE: C


COACHING

Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea realized a bit late that the Bears' best hopes to be competitive ride on Thomas Jones and the offensive line, and not Jonathan Quinn. It was surprising Quinn wasn't asked to roll out a little more, especially near the end of the game. With 2 weeks to prepare for this game, it was also surprising how many mental errors the Bears were making, especially with blown coverages, missed tackles, and poor recognition of the blitz by the quarterback. Special teams is a nightmare to watch because the percentage of plays without yellow laundry littering the field is low. Credit should be given to Joe Gibbs, who appears to have spent some time working some of Denver's running game into his offensive scheme, so Clinton Portis can feel more at home. The Bears are 1-4 with few signs of life. The coaching staff is going to be challenged more than ever to put a competitive team on the field. GRADE: D


GAME BALLS

Alex Brown
Jerry Azumah
Thomas Jones

_HORNS

Jonathan Quinn
Todd McMillon

HARDEST HITS

Idonije on Portis



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