Overall, the Jaguars and the Bears played fairly evenly, or at least what the statistics say. Of course the final score didn't reflect those numbers. I am always interested in the first three plays of the game for the Bears. That's when they begin to establish the pattern that will be on display through the remainder of the afternoon.
We had two short plays that were somewhat successful, then the nice pass by Chad Hutchinson to Dustin Lyman. It was right in the tight end's breadbasket and he dropped it. Not Hutchinson's fault at all as the pass was right on the money. You simply can't win at this level of football when things like that happen. So there the Bears started with a three and out. This pattern was repeated for much of the game.
The Bears had six penalties during the first quarter. Some were legitimate, many I would question. From my viewpoint, the Bears always seem to have trouble when Bernie Kukar is officiating. There were more than a few questionable calls going against Chicago. That's not an excuse for he performance of this team, just a fact of the game.
The offensive line is in big trouble again, particularly at Qasim Mitchell's end. Hutchinson was compensating as best he could and ran some really nice plays despite a lack of protection He had nice execution on t he draw plays and did a good job setting up the offense. Think of the difference between Jacksonville and Chicago. Byron Leftwich had the time to work through his reads; Hutchinson could begin to make an impact if he had the same luxury.
You need separation to run a decent route, something that David Terrell never achieved. It seems clear that he needs to practice his overall technique much harder and get his fundamentals down.
The Jaguars offense picked apart the Bears DL and went through the holes time after time. The Bears DL, which was surprising to me. They weren't really bad, just not up to the level we have seen before. These are good linemen that have had excellent production up to now. Was their letdown due to the fact that they simply were facing a better team this time?
So on to the Good: Nice work by Hutchinson who was under duress for much of the contest. The Bad: Terry Shea having to compensate for Mitchell's lack of ability with ineffective plays drawing pressure away from that end of the OL.
The Good: Hutchinson's mobility. The Bad: He had to scramble down after down.
The Good: Bernard Berrian's 38-yard pass reception. The Bad: Shea's screen pass call when the Bears were on the Jaguars' 10-yard line. The end result, of course, was not a touchdown.
The Good: Brian Urlacher picked up a Jacksonville fumble and the tide of the game shifted in the Bears' favor. The Bad. Penalty on Charles Tillman for roughing the quarterback and Jacksonville keeps the ball.
Despite controlling the football for much of the first half the Bears did nothing offensively. One field goal is not evidence of an accomplished aggressive game plan.
The bottom line: The Bears aren't going to get any offense until they have a good offensive line. Look what a strong effort up front did for the Jaguars. Leftwich had 45 passes and was never touched by the Bears. The Jags ran for 95 yards without much of a problem. There was good protection in place for Leftwich on every play.
Conversely, Jacksonville had 5 sacks on Hutchinson and both the passing game and the running game never got underway in any effective manner for Chicago. The Bears QB was really on his own out there.
Where do we go from here? There's not much to do but finish out the season and hope that a solution can be found somewhere within the Bears system. I am disappointed by Shea's play calling. There could be a lot of improvement there. Get starters who need to be in the lineup back in the game and keep them healthy. Give Hutchinson some support on the running and the passing game. This is not a bad team, just one in search of some answers right now.