Sunday School: What We Learned

We thought the Chicago Bears were having trouble defending the pass, but Kerry Collins lighting up the Windy City skies hammered home what is really a glaring weakness. Here are five things we learned about the Midway Monsters after a 21-14 loss at the hands of the undefeated Titans on Sunday.

1. The book has been written on how to beat the Bears defense this year
Perhaps more than any other team in the league, the Titans do what they do each and every week and don't feel the need to deviate too much from their tried-and-true formula for success. Tennessee is going to play aggressive on defense and run the football down your throat on offense – unless, of course, they're facing the Bears, as they did in Week 10. It didn't take long for the Titans to go away from their bread-and-butter running back combination of Chris Johnson and LenDale White, as Kerry Collins enjoyed his best day of the season throwing the ball on what is a bad-and-getting-worse Chicago pass defense.

When you hold the third-best rushing offense in the NFL to just 20 yards on the ground – at home, remember – and still trail by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, then you really need to take a closer look at your coverage schemes in the secondary.


QB Rex Grossman
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images

2. Grossman is destined to be a career backup
With Kyle Orton able to do nothing more than walk gingerly to the middle of the field for the pre-game coin toss, Rex Grossman had a golden opportunity to announce to the world that he still has what it takes to be a starter-worthy quarterback. His future in Chicago may have gone up in smoke after Orton got off to that white-hot start in 2008, but it wasn't that long ago when Grossman was the Offensive Player of the Month in this league and leading the Bears to Super Bowl XLI. However, Grossman was nothing short of dreadful against the Titans, putting his stunning inaccuracy, awkward footwork, and poor decision making on display from start to finish.

Grossman will still collect a few healthy paychecks before his NFL career is over as a veteran backup, probably from more than one team before he finally hangs up his spikes, but his days of being The Man are long gone once and for all.

3. Dvoracek isn't having near the season he's being credited for at nose
Bears fans are happy to see Dusty Dvoracek finally able to stay healthy after his first two seasons were lost to injury, starting alongside fellow former Sooner and close friend Tommie Harris. But the long-haired nose tackle isn't enjoying nearly the success people seem to think he is, as evidenced by the fact that he's only totaled 24 tackles and has zero sacks in nine games. While it's not necessarily a nose tackle's job to compile a bunch of big plays, perhaps one of the reasons Harris has failed to live up to his usual Pro Bowl-caliber reputation is Dvoracek not being good enough to command a double team from enemy offensive lines.

You can blame the defensive end rotation of Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, and Mark Anderson all you want for not putting enough pressure on the passer, but they're not getting much help from their friends inside these days.


WR Rashied Davis
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

4. Lack of a No. 1 receiver hurt badly Sunday
Orton deserves even more credit in hindsight now, as he played as well as any signal-caller in the league for a prolonged stretch this season with a bunch of No. 3 wideouts at his disposal. But in Week 10, it was quite obvious that Grossman missed the presence of a consistent burner like the departed Bernard Berrian, who got all that money from the rival Vikings this past offseason in part because Grossman helped make the wideout's reputation as a downfield threat, on the outside. Grossman is getting ripped for overthrowing Devin Hester on that deep post so badly, but neither Marty Booker nor Rashied Davis did much to create some separation from defenders and get open consistently.

The coaching staff has to be held accountable for not developing talent at the receiver position, especially with the waived Mark Bradley turning into an instant threat the moment he put on a Chiefs uniform.

5. Smith and Co. will make or break their season on this road trip
Even with all the drama surrounding Lovie Smith's team, from losing late leads to key injuries on both sides of the ball to problems in pass defense, the Bears are still 5-4 and tied atop the NFC North. But the next three weeks will define this ballclub, as there are a pair of divisional road games wrapped around another visiting assignment in Smith's old stomping grounds: at Green Bay, at St. Louis, and then at Minnesota. The Midway Monsters must do no worse than 2-1 in this three-game swing, plus losing to a terrible 2-7 Rams team would be positively unforgivable no matter the circumstances.

The Bears are fortunate to have three consecutive home dates at chilly Soldier Field in December, but they have to get the job done away from the Windy City first if they want to control their own destiny the rest of the way.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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