The Chargers were not up to the task. They could not find a passing game until Doug Flutie entered the game. By then, it was too late to mount a comeback. A huge return by RW McQuarters ensured that.
"We practiced cover three and kept eight men in the box," said Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher. "As long as our corners were playing good, we could keep doing that."
The corners didn't need to do a good job. Drew Brees could not hit the side of a barn. Robinhood would have never made it through the Enchanted Forest with Brees at his side.
"Our defense did an outstanding job on what I think is a great running back in the NFL," said Chicago Coach Dick Jauron. "We made plays in the open field on LaDainian Tomlinson, which is not an easy thing to do."
The main problem is the passing game has as much to do with the running game as play action pass opens up more lanes for the pass. The Chargers could not muster a passing game beyond 10 yards with Brees in. They barely managed anything even then with Brees 7-15 for 49 yards.
"You've got to be able to throw the ball to win," Jauron concurred. "If they fear our passing game, it will open it up inside and we will be able to run."
The Chargers did a good job defending the run, but Chris Chandler was able to hit his receivers with regularity, thus opening up each facet of the game. They kept third down manageable and were rewarded. The Bears ran 65 plays compared to the 45 the Bolts ran.
Four incompletions off the hand of Drew Brees on third down and three runs came up short. Those four incompletions were all within reach. Brees was off target.
"When you look at the numbers that is where we came up short," said Marty Schottenheimer. "They were 42% (in converting third downs) and we were 2 out of 12. I said this for the last three or four weeks, it is a game of third downs."
It was actually 47% for the Bears when fourth down is configured into the equation. The Chargers went 2 of 9, bad no matter how you slice it.
The Bolts had to turn to Doug Flutie to get offensive movement. It worked because Chicago never prepared for him to enter the game.
"We didn't think he would come in at all," said Brian Urlacher.
It is hard to imagine what direction this team takes on the offensive side of the ball. Next week will mark their first real home game in seven weeks. They have been so bad during that time; fans may not show up to support the team. Change is needed, but Marty admits he doesn't like change.
"I'm one who doesn't like change, but I'm looking at the league and the way players have to adapt to constant change. They're certainly far better prepared to deal with it now than they would have been in the days that I played."
He may not be prepared to coach, if he cannot handle change. The next change could start with his job.
Denis Savage can eb reached at email@example.com
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