Noots' Notes

The Bears slumped to 1-5 after another putrid offensive performance. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rebounded from a close loss to St. Louis on Monday to dominate the Bears in nearly every phase of the game. Let's take a closer look at the personnel groups and how they fared.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Jonathan Quinn (5-9-47, 1/3) got the start and played through the end of the first half. He opened the game with a short pass to Thomas Jones who went 77 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately a penalty on David Terrell took it off the books. Quinn looked a little better than he had in previous games as he actually had better accuracy and timing, but his rise was from brutal to inadequate. Quinn got little help from the offensive line, but he has the pocket presence of a quarterback who seems to think he's still wearing a red jersey from practice that allows him to wait as long as he wants without getting hit. Rookie Craig Krenzel (9-19-69, 0 TD, 1 Int, 1/4) was handed the reins to start the second half. Many Bear fans couldn't wait to see him enter, some hoping he'd start the game. They waited even longer than they thought they would, as the Bears fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, thus delaying the first possession. Krenzel's accuracy wasn't good either. It was especially bad when he was throwing on the run. However, his presence in the pocket and sense of timing with the receivers is already better than Quinn's. He threw some excellent passes to find tight end Desmond Clark and wideout Justin Gage. Krenzel's interception came on a throw that led fullback Bryan Johnson, and deflected up into the air. Krenzel's best play was a 14-yard completion to Bernard Berrian into the teeth of a blitz. The Bear offense moved up and down the field significantly better under Krenzel's guidance than Quinn's. It's unclear whether or not the performances in this game will impact a decision of who starts next week, or on signing free agent Tim Couch. GRADE: D

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (13/52 TD) played well, despite limited action due to a thigh bruise and the insistence on seeing Anthony Thomas get action. Jones' speed helped him gain yardage on several big cutbacks, and his elusiveness allowed him to make many would-be tacklers miss, especially on his short touchdown run and the few plays leading up to it. Jones had a touchdown called back on a short pass in the right flat he took the distance. Anthony Thomas (5/17, 2-4) saw his most significant playing time all season. He looked slow and stiff both running the ball and catching it. On one of his best runs, he burst through the line but then lowered his head to run into a pileup several yards downfield when there was room on either side of it. Bryan Johnson didn't have a great game run blocking, and his one-handed attempt at a ball in front of him resulted in a deflection that led to a costly interception. GRADE: D

Receivers

David Terrell opened the game with an offensive pass interference penalty to nullify a touchdown pass to Jones. Terrell delivered a crushing block on a linebacker on the play. He was working against single coverage on a deep pass late in the game, but couldn't work his way off the sideline to get inside a defender to adjust to the ball. It's a play a big-time receiver with his size and skills should be able to make. Justin Gage (4-43) had his most active game of the season. He held onto a short pass despite two defenders contacting him just as the ball arrived. There were two illegal formation penalties related to wide receivers being set at the line of scrimmage or not. His lack of playing time in this offense may have had a role in that. Bernard Berrian (1-14) held onto a key pass from Krenzel, but also had a drop early in the game on a Quinn pass deep in the seam. The pass was a little high but he got his hands on it. Bobby Wade (1-11) was not a factor. Desmond Clark (3-31) had a couple of nice catches. Dustin Lyman played but wasn't a factor. Overall, the play of the receivers was a microcosm of the entire Bears' squad. They were average when they were at their best, but that average play was window dressing for mental mistakes and overall poor play. GRADE: D

Offensive Line

Steve Edwards entered the game early for Mike Gandy, whose hamstring acted up on him. Perhaps Gandy aggravated it while he whiffed on a pass rush that went outside him for an early sack. Steve Edwards played well in reserve, and it might be time to think long about what happens at the guard position going forward, since Edwards has played so well, and Rex Tucker should be ready to get back on the field. Gandy might not be disposed of so quickly, since Qasim Mitchell had his worst game of the year pass blocking against Simeon Rice. Rice blew past him for two sacks. Mitchell added a false start to effectively bottom out his day. With Gandy having experience at left tackle, Tucker returning, Marc Colombo working his way back after two years off from knee surgery and no sign of offense in sight with an unsettled backup quarterback position, auditions for left tackle and right guard may begin shortly. Olin Kreutz did a good job getting out on a pull to set up the nullified touchdown to Jones. Ruben Brown struggled in his first game back after knee surgery. He and right tackle John Tait got into the act with false starts of their own. The sacks allowed in this game were more a result of the line's ineptitude than the quarterback holding the ball too long. Run blocking was average at best. Mental errors were far too prevalent. GRADE: D


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Tommie Harris (4 tackles, sack, 2 TFL) opened the game with a tackle for a loss and a sack on consecutive plays. A short while later he doubled up on one play with an offsides and unnecessary roughness that took the Buccaneers out of a 3rd and 7 at their own 7-yard line. He picked up another tackle for a loss at the end of the game. Michael Haynes and Alex Brown started at defensive ends and put some good pressure on early in the game but faded late. Haynes ran past a sack and appeared to have been flagged for taunting on a fumble recovery which set field position back considerably, possibly costing the Bears a field goal. He did have some good pressure, forced a wobbly pass with a hit on Brian Griese (15-23-163, TD), and had good contain and pressure on a rollout late. Alex Brown (6 tackles, TFL) had a quiet game after his strong performance last week. He had an early pressure and tackle for loss, but wasn't much of a factor. Ian Scott started and put a big hit on Michael Pittman (23/109, TD, 2-55) along the sideline. He also had a pressure on a third and three deep in Bear territory that led to an incompletion and field goal attempt. Alain Kashama saw some action at right end and his lack of discipline ran him out of several plays. He took no heed of the running back as he ran past him, only concerned with getting upfield. It's this lack of discipline that has plagued the defensive front seven, and negates much of the good they have done. GRADE: C-

Linebackers

Brian Urlacher (8 tackles, FF) had an abysmal first half, and came to life a bit in the second half. He was beaten up the sideline for a 46-yard completion to Pittman. Urlacher was continually blocked on running plays, and appeared slow in his initial reaction time. As a result, he seemed more content to attempt arm tackles and swipes at the ball instead of actually getting involved in the play. He came alive a bit in the second half and forced a fumble. Lance Briggs (8 tackles) had a more steady game than he had in previous weeks, and was more sure in his tackling. Hunter Hillenmeyer (7 tackles, FF) had good coverage on the Buccaneer tight ends, and took a great angle on Mike Alstott to lead to a forced fumble. Alstott appeared to severely injure his leg on the play and did not return. Joe Odom and Marcus Reese played in spots. For the fifth consecutive week, the starting running back for the Bears' competitor has had a huge game in combined yardage:

Michael Pittman-164 yards Clinton Portis-182 yards Brian Westbrook-188 yards Onterrio Smith-198 yards Ahman Green-135 yards

Regardless of the offensive ineptitude, the defense has not stepped up and helped itself, and this starts with the front seven. GRADE: D

Secondary

Jerry Azumah returned to his regular position at starting cornerback and had a relatively quiet game, which isn't a bad thing. It's a bright alternative to what R.W. McQuarters brought to the table. McQuarters served as the "go-to" guy for Tampa's offensive attack. He was continually the victim of 3rd down completions for conversions, and added a few missed tackles to boot. His lone bright spot lasted only momentarily, as he picked off a Brian Griese pass and was later ruled to have interfered with the receiver. Mike Green (5 tackles, PD, FR) shook off an early stiff arm from Michael Pittman to get his knee into the football to force a fumble on Alstott, and also recover the ball. He had a good pass breakup late in the game. Safeties Cameron Worrell and Todd Johnson (8 tackles, FR) had quiet games, but breakdowns in coverage on their watch were less frequent than in recent weeks. Nathan Vasher was the forgotten man, having lost his job to McQuarters. After Sunday's game, it wouldn't be surprising to see Vasher back in the starting lineup opposite Azumah. GRADE: C


SPECIAL TEAMS

Paul Edinger had no opportunities to kick field goals, but did get decent depth on his kickoffs. Brad Maynard had a strong day punting. He pinned the Buccaneers inside their own 10-yard line twice and inside the 20-yard line three times. R.W. McQuarters and Jerry Azumah couldn't get anything going returning punts and kickoffs. The Buccaneers deliberately bounced their kicks short of Azumah to disrupt his timing, and it worked well. Jason McKie fielded the first short kick and fumbled the ball away. He also was shaken up on the play. Coverage on all kicks was fair. Maynard's kicking helped keep the Bears in the game, but the fumble by McKie was a back-breaker. GRADE: D+


COACHING

Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea has to be pulling his hair out. The first big play for a touchdown all season gets nullified on the offense's first possession, and then his steady offensive line turns into a sieve. Whatever the case, the Bears are still not running the ball nearly enough. That's on Shea. Perhaps the move to Krenzel will result in more reliance on the run. Thomas Jones appeared to get back on track in the second half when Krenzel was on the field. Maybe Jones' leg was more banged up than originally thought, and that's why Anthony Thomas was on the field so much. It's apparent he doesn't give the Bears their best chance to win, so why is he on the field in the fourth quarter? It would make sense if Jones had 25 touches, and Thomas was fed another 15. That's the only kind of offense that this team should be attempting when the starting quarterbacks are either inept journeymen or late-round hopefuls who have been rushed to the front lines. Ron Rivera's troops are doing a great job of perfecting some kind of reversed version of Muhammad Ali's boxing strategy. They keep allowing little jabs all the way down the field without taking a knockout punch. Unfortunately, it also means a loss by a few points at the end of the game. While some might draw some solace in the final points, an alarming trend has developed, where opposing runners have had breakout games against the Bear defense. Head Coach Lovie Smith is now tasked with trying to prevent losing his team, especially with the frustrating football they are now playing. The schedule will soon get much more difficult. How many penalties as the result of frustration will we see in later weeks, when even mathematicians no longer give the Bears a chance? GRADE: D


GAME BALLS

Tommie Harris
Mike Green
Brad Maynard

HORNS

R.W. McQuarters
Qasim Mitchell

HARDEST HITS

Scott on Pittman



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