Noots' Notes

The Bears squandered a 10-6 fourth quarter lead, eventually falling 20-10 to Cleveland. They were undone by a bizarre Kyle Orton fumble and two late defensive coverage lapses. Orton and the Bears' secondary had played relatively mistake-free all game.


In the final analysis, the veteran leadership of Trent Dilfer won out over the mistakes of the inexperienced Bears. Dilfer was acquired for a middle-round draft pick. His veteran leadership is an ingredient the Bears were missing when they miscalculated on Chad Hutchinson.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Kyle Orton (16-26-117, TD, 3/14 2 Fumbles) was very efficient, and played a much more steady game than he did against Cincinnati. He managed to hit his check down routes with regularity. One of those, a pass to Thomas Jones in the right flat, went for a touchdown but was called back on a penalty. Orton found fullback Marc Edwards in the left flat for the Bears' lone touchdown. Orton's fourth quarter fumble was hardly his fault. Running back Adrian Peterson had darted past him to stop a jailbreak up the middle, and in doing so knocked the ball from Orton's hands. Other than what looked like a miscommunication with Muhsin Muhammad on his last throw and a pass too high for Bobby Wade, he had good accuracy. At least one of the sacks allowed was because he held the ball too long. Overall, Orton did much better at throwing the ball away when his receivers were covered. Some other highlights included a key third down pass to Muhammad to pick up a first down during the 93-yard touchdown drive. It was a better game plan for him, and better execution, but in the end, not enough to get the job done. GRADE: C+

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (24/137, 2-5) had a huge game. The Browns spent the majority of the game in a 3-4 alignment, and Jones was able to find the running lanes consistently between the guards and at times off tackle. Jones was decisive with his cutbacks, usually cutting from right guard to left guard for his yardage. He hit the holes hard, and ripped off numerous double digit gains. His knee was twisted in the fourth quarter and he did not return. Cedric Benson (5/6, Fumble) had his poorest performance as a pro. He was inserted for a few series, and failed to pick up a first down on consecutive third and fourth down short yardage carries. His lowlight came on a fumble that was not reviewed by the coaching staff. It was worth the review, since it appeared that either his knee was down or was at least very close to being down. Once Jones was injured, Adrian Peterson saw the majority of the snaps at halfback. He's believed to be the better pass blocker, and he did a good job picking up the blitz. Unfortunately, the play most remembered will be the Kyle Orton fumble he caused while trying to make a block. The forced fumble overshadowed a huge first down he picked up on a third and 20 carry. Fullback Marc Edwards (1-8, TD) played extremely well. He made some excellent blocks to lead the way for Jones, and his touchdown reception was the Bears' only score. GRADE: B

Receivers

Rookie Mark Bradley (4-33, Fumble) was given the start opposite Muhsin Muhammad 6-52). He had a difficult day. After catching the first pass thrown to him, the ball was stripped away for a fumble. Later in the game, he allowed a pass to go through his hands for an incompletion. He was the intended receiver on a pass that was intercepted in the late moments of the game. As the defender dove to catch the ball (later reviewed and overturned), Bradley made no attempt to make a tackle. Muhsin Muhammad had a couple of nice catches, especially a 23-yard reception that he plucked out of the air in spite of losing his footing. He alertly jumped on a fumbled reverse attempt to keep possession of the ball. Bernard Berrian fumbled the exchange on the reverse from Orton. Bobby Wade saw some action but wasn't a factor. Tight end Gabe Reid (1-10) had a good catch and run for 10 yards. Desmond Clark (2-9) didn't block very well, committed a false start, and had a drop. He did come through with a reception for a first down later in the contest. The receivers didn't break many tackles, had a few drops and turnovers, and overall did very little to positively impact the contest. GRADE: D

Offensive Line

The Bears ran up 176 rushing yards behind a strong effort from the offensive line. Left guard Ruben Brown left with a chest muscle injury in the first half, and Roberto Garza took his place. Garza took a couple of plays to settle down, committing a facemask penalty to negate a 9-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Jones and then allowing a sack two plays later. But it was Garza's ability to reach the linebackers in run blocking situations that allowed Thomas Jones to gain huge chunks of yardage. He also pulled to lead up the hole to the right side and erased the linebacker so Jones could pick up 25 yards behind his block. Olin Kreutz and Terrance Metcalf were also integral parts to the rushing attack, neutralizing the interior of the Browns' defense. Metcalf jumped offsides later in the game. Fred Miller had another quiet, steady game at right tackle. John Tait was flagged for holding on the same play that he allowed a sack. He left the game with an apparent leg injury on the overturned Orton interception in the fourth quarter. John St. Clair replaced him and thankfully wasn't a factor. Overall, run blocking was good, although it would have been very good if they could have produced better in short yardage situations (see the Benson note). Pass blocking was average. GRADE: B


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Ian Scott (5 tackles, 2 TFL) had another strong game anchoring the middle of the defensive line. He had a couple of tackles for a loss. Tommie Harris picked up his first sack of the season. He also had a forced fumble that was overturned because of a penalty. Adewale Ogunleye lined up in the neutral zone to negate Harris' play. He wasn't a big factor, and appeared to re-aggravate his sore ankle. Alex Brown (3 tackles) is still searching for his first sack. He was able to draw two fourth quarter holding flags from L. J. Shelton. Tank Johnson had a few pressures on Dilfer (23-34-218, 2 TDs, 2 Ints). Michael Haynes registered a knockdown pressure in the second half. Alfonso Boone saw some time at defensive end but wasn't a factor. Run defense was above average, but there was little pass rush pressure. The Browns used a lot of quick passes, something the Bears will soon get better at. When they took their chances deep, the pass rush wasn't there. GRADE: C

Linebackers

Brian Urlacher (12 tackles, sack, PD) played well for most of the game. He took a bad angle on Reuben Droughns (17/72, 4-21) early but his technique was good overall. He sniffed out Droughns on a screen to stop the Browns from getting a touchdown, and also dropped him on a draw play for minimal yardage. When the Browns tried a reverse pass, Urlacher was there again, with a tackle for a loss (which means he gets credit for a sack). He also came through with a pass deflection on throw to Frisman Jackson on what would have been a sure 3rd and 12 conversion. Lance Briggs (9 tackles, sack, PD) registered a sack and had a couple of big tackles in the running game against both Droughns and William Green. He allowed Aaron Shea (6-65) to break a tackle. Hunter Hillenmeyer (7 tackles, PD) just missed an interception near the goal line. Run defense was good, but Cleveland's tight ends and running backs were able to keep drives alive with plenty of short passes. GRADE: B

Secondary

Charles Tillman (8 tackles, Int, PD) had an early red zone interception. He was turned around and beaten for a 28-yard touchdown to Antonio Bryant in the fourth quarter. Nathan Vasher had a quiet game. He didn't make many big plays, but had solid coverage and was a sure tackler when needed. The same can be said for Jerry Azumah (3 tackles). Safety Mike Brown (7 tackles, Int, PD) nearly had another interception return for a touchdown. He intercepted an overthrown pass to Aaron Shea and returned it 72 yards to the Browns' 9-yard line. If his hamstring was completely healthy, he might have made it all the way. He also provided some good pressure blitzing Dilfer. Safety Chris Harris (2 tackles) was too late to react to Antonio Bryant (6-83, 2 TDs) getting deep, allowing a 33-yard touchdown reception. Harris and Tillman's miscues erased a solid performance by the secondary. GRADE: C


SPECIAL TEAMS

Doug Brien's bad back meant place kicker Rob Gould needed to be signed late in the week. Gould showed off his strong leg on kickoffs, driving the ball inside the 10-yard line each time. He was only one of two on field goals, connecting from 44 but missing wide left from 48 yards. Brad Maynard had a couple of very good kicks, but saved his worst one for the worst time. Jerry Azumah (3/82) looked like his old self returning kickoffs, partially because he's a lot further along from hip surgery, and partially because Adrian Peterson (2/32) has replaced Justin Gage as the up back. He made a few good blocks to give Azumah more time to find his running lane. Peterson also fielded two of the shorter kicks and brought each of them past the 30-yard line. Bobby Wade only had one punt that he could return. The others were not returnable. Mike Green downed a punt at the 8-yard line. Carl Ford committed two costly penalties (holding, illegal motion) that cost the Bears' field position. GRADE: D+


COACHING

The biggest blunder was probably the non challenge of Benson's fumble. It was close enough to challenge and definitely a big enough play. Ron Turner's rushing attack was tailor-made for Cleveland's 3-4 alignment. The short passing game, for the most part, was good for Orton as well, to minimize errors. However, a couple of chances down the field would have been good to keep the Cleveland defense honest. The fumbled exchange on the end around was particularly embarrassing. The timing for the insertion of Cedric Benson was troubling. Jones was rolling when Benson was brought in; bringing what little offensive momentum they had to a screeching halt. Ron Rivera's defense kept the Browns' surprising offense in check deep into the fourth quarter. But when the Bears' offense turned the ball over, the wheels fell off. How Tillman and Harris could suddenly have breakdowns is quite shocking. The Bears had a great opportunity to rise to 2-2. Instead, they squandered several scoring chances, committed numerous costly penalties, and suffered defensive breakdowns at the worst possible time. The Bears have a young team, with relatively inexperienced coaches. It showed. GRADE: D


GAME BALLS

Thomas Jones
Olin Kreutz
Marc Edwards
Mike Brown

HORNS

Mark Bradley
Chris Harris
Carl Ford

HARDEST HITS

Mike Brown on Aaron Shea
Charles Tillman on Aaron Shea



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