Positional Analysis

The Detroit Lions (6-9) outlasted the Chicago Bears (5-10) 19-13. The Bear offense was again punchless for the majority of the game. Just when it appeared the Bears might steal a victory at the end of the contest, the officials chose not to allow a touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian, despite a review that showed him having possession of the ball with both feet in bounds in the end zone. Let's take a closer look at the individual personnel groups.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

The story of Chad Hutchinson's performance (20-35-114, TD) was related to timing. He was late with many throws, allowing defenders to tackle his receivers just as the ball was getting there, leading to very few big gains. While it might be argued that he had poor protection as evidenced by several sacks, just about every sack he took was the result of his holding the ball a count too long or more. His first pass was a nice 7-yard play action rollout to Dustin Lyman up the right sideline. He had only a few throws which could be deemed inaccurate, especially a quick hitch in the right flat that sailed over the head of David Terrell. He got better as the game got down to its most critical point. One of his best passes was a 30-yard toss up the right sideline to Thomas Jones, who had split out opposite a trips formation to the left side. Hutchinson had little success successfully hitting his running backs in the flat, as they were usually draped by Lions defenders. However, with the game winding down, he hit fullback Jason McKie in the left flat and he took it in for a 15-yard touchdown reception. After a big stop by the defense, he led the Bears on a late drive that appeared to culminate with a 43-yard touchdown strike to Bernard Berrian, only to have it overruled by an overly officious group of officials. Hutchinson is indeed a work in progress, but he showed the heart and desire of a winner in this game. He has all the tools physically, mentally and the intangibles to be a good professional quarterback. It will be up to the Bears to properly develop him. GRADE: C-

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (22/109, fumble, 4-34) finally had the twenty plus carry afternoon he hadn't had in many weeks. It also meant he would top one hundred yards. He ran with much better burst than he had shown recently. Jones continued to excel as a receiver as well as in pass protection. He was featured with good success to open the second half but then fumbled the ball away. Adrian Peterson was at running back for the next two series. He found no running room on only a couple of carries. Anthony Thomas didn't get any rushing attempts. Jason McKie (5-21) had a solid game at fullback both catching the ball and blocking. He didn't have much room to run after his receptions apart from the touchdown. His touchdown was the Bears' lone offensive score. Overall, the running backs played well. GRADE: B

Receivers

David Terrell (2-10) did not have a good game. He had opportunities to come up with big plays but time and again could not come up with the catch. Additionally, he committed two pass interference penalties, with one of them erasing a 9-yard completion to Bobby Wade. Wade (1/11, 4-27) was flagged for an illegal shift and dropped a 3rd and three slant pass. The dropped pass was thrown a bit hot, but should still have been caught. Justin Gage had a late drop. Bernard Berrian had the controversial touchdown wiped out. He broke open deep on the play but had to slow up to wait for the ball. Tight end Desmond Clark (2-12) had a pass go off his fingertips early but came up with a key reception to convert a 4th down in the fourth quarter. Dustin Lyman had an early reception. The tight ends did a decent job of helping out when they stayed in for pass protection. There were too few big plays from this group. Their mental mistakes in the form of drops and penalties severely hindered an already anemic offense. GRADE: D

Offensive Line

John Tait returned to the lineup at right tackle. He played relatively well, especially run blocking. Although he allowed a sack, it was due to either good coverage or Hutchinson holding the ball too long. Marc Colombo started and finished the game at left tackle. He accounted for himself relatively well for his first complete game of the season. He allowed some pressure and got beaten to the inside a couple of times but overall was an upgrade compared to the level of play Qasim Mitchell supplied up to this point of the season. He was matched up against one of the better pass rushers in the league. The guards were Terrence Metcalf on the left side and Steve Edwards on the right. Jones and Edwards were used to pull quite a bit with mixed results. Edwards also allowed a sack that appeared to be coverage related. Olin Kreutz could have helped out on the play but was looking elsewhere when blocking broke down. Kreutz got out well on a sweep around left end for a Thomas Jones 9-yard gain. Pass protection was average, while run blocking was good off the edges but left something to be desired up the middle, especially in short yardage situations. For a change, mental mistakes were not a factor. They left that up to the receivers. GRADE: C+


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

If a Bears' defensive lineman is held in the dome and nobody is watching, is it still a penalty? Michael Haynes started for Adewale Ogunleye and made a few tackles in the run game and had some pressure. Haynes, Shurron Pierson, Tank Johnson, and Israel Idonije were held excessively. In fact, on one occasion Pierson was tackled by his head while chasing behind the quarterback, usually an area that is so much a focal point of the officials that calls there don't get ignored. Haynes was slanting inside on a big run by Kevin Jones (25/123, TD, fumble, 1-8) that went outside of him for big yardage. He was literally tackled by a Lions lineman on a 4th down scramble by Harrington. Haynes shared time with Pierson and Idonije. Alex Brown (1 tackle) had two knockdowns on Joey Harrington (15-30-166, Int, 5/26) in the first half but wasn't heard from much the rest of the game. Ian Scott (3 tackles, sack, 2 PD) continued his high level of play, deflecting two passes at the line, collecting a sack, and nearly getting another as Harrington got rid of the ball as he was being wrapped up. Tommie Harris (2 tackles) jumped offsides turning a 3rd and ten into a 3rd and five. His chase pressure led to an incomplete pass. Idonije made a good tackle against the run. Boone played but wasn't a big factor. His best play was a block he made after Briggs' interception. Johnson had good pressure in spite of being held and double-teamed on the same play. Overall, there were some breakdowns in the run game and the pass rush pressure was average. GRADE: C

Linebackers

Hunter Hillenmeyer (7 tackles) started at middle linebacker for the injured Brian Urlacher and gave the team a scare when he rolled his ankle. He had it retaped and returned to action without missing much of the game. He made a few plays against the run between the tackles, although tired late. At that point he made a tackle for a 5-yard gain after meeting Jones in the hole and then was dragged for the balance of the carry. Jeremy Cain played briefly for Hillenmeyer and stuffed Jones on one of his few opportunities. He was late getting back for deep middle coverage that allowed Roy Williams to come up with a 26-yard reception that fell just short of the goal line. Marcus Reese (2 tackles, FF) started on the strong side and made two big plays. He had a key pressure on Harrington, and then forced a fumble for a 13-yard loss. Lance Briggs (10 tackles, Int, PD) started on the weak side, and had a big game. Not only was he all over the field against the run, but he also picked off an errant pass for an interception that he ran back 38 yards for a touchdown. Briggs also put a wicked hit on Harrington to combine with Mike Green for a sack. Run support could have been a little better on the off tackle plays, and there were some spotty breakdowns in the middle as well. Blitz pressure was good. Coverage was solid overall. GRADE: B

Secondary

It's difficult to fairly assess the secondary, since Lions receivers dropped at least half a dozen passes. Charles Tillman (4 tackles, 3 PD) continues to struggle since his return to the lineup. He was flagged for defensive holding. He failed to wrap up Jones on a run that went for 32 yards. On the plus side, he put a big hit on Jones in coverage that separated him from the ball. Jerry Azumah (5 tackles, PD) was faked out on a quick hitch that went for 14 yards. He was whistled for defensive holding as well, but it was a very questionable call. R.W. McQuarters (6 tackles) was turned around for a big gain up the sideline at the end of the first half. He whiffed in run support on a tackle up the middle against a spinning Jones. Mike Green (11 tackles, sack) had a strong game. He made numerous plays right up on the line against the run. He came free on a blitz up the middle that forced Harrington to throw the interception Lance Briggs turned into a touchdown. Green also had Harrington's legs tied up when Briggs came in to label him for a sack. Nathan Vasher saw a good deal of action and was up and down. He had some struggles in coverage, but made a nice play to foil the blocking on a screen. Todd Johnson saw some action as well. Overall, coverage wasn't bad, but tackling was an issue at times. Blitz pressure was good. GRADE: C+


SPECIAL TEAMS

Paul Edinger had no field goal opportunities. His two kickoffs were of good depth. Brad Maynard had quite a few punt opportunities and had a good performance. However, coverage teams on kicks and punts left a little to be desired. Recently signed safety Jason Shivers failed to wrap up, leading to a big runback. John Gilmore decided that this was the game he would remind everyone he is still on the roster by committing not one but two penalties on returns (illegal block in the back, unnecessary roughness). Jerry Azumah didn't have much room to run on his returns. He made a poor decision to return a kick from about seven yards deep in the end zone. R.W. McQuarters had one decent return which was erased by penalty. He also made a poor decision to fair catch a kick inside his 10 that he should either have let go or had the time to run back. Jason McKie was flagged for holding on a kickoff return. Mike Green jumped offsides on a punt, changing a 4th and ten into a 4th and five, which Detroit converted to a first down on the next play. Overall, this group committed numerous mistakes, leaking the field position battle back to Detroit. GRADE: D


COACHING

After several weeks of giving Qasim Mitchell a quick hook at left tackle for Marc Colombo, it was refreshing to see Colombo get the start. Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea showed some semblance of dedication to the running game. Whenever Jones was given steady carries, the Bears moved the ball. Unfortunately, Shea still has little patience for it. Additionally, the Bears haven't tried to attack the edges enough in the run game. There was a better mix than in recent weeks in this game. Shea adapted the passing game to include more three step drops to take pressure off Hutchinson. That part of it seemed to work. However, Hutchinson hasn't much experience throwing those routes, so the timing of the patterns was off, leading to numerous John Shoop-like 2-yard passes on 3rd and long. There's a time and a place for everything. Ron Rivera's defense did just enough to keep a competent offense in the game. Blitz pressure came from both linebacker and defensive backs. The run defense was shoddy at times, mostly due to breakdowns in discipline. One of the big gains off tackle was just a good call where they guessed right against a slanting line. Since the questionable call on the pass in the end zone to Berrian occurred inside of two minutes, there was no on field recourse for Lovie Smith. Smith's decision to go for a two-point conversion was a bit premature. What Smith should be most accountable for is a team that came out flat as a pancake and didn't really wake up until the second half. GRADE: D-


GAME BALLS

Lance Briggs
Ian Scott
Mike Green
Marc Colombo
Thomas Jones

HORNS

David Terrell
John Gilmore
The officiating crew

HARDEST HITS

Lance Briggs on Joey Harrington
Charles Tillman on Kevin Jones



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