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Across The Middle – Week 2

| September 14th, 2016

 will-fuller

The word of the day is perspective.

I like to think I’m as passionate a Bears fan as there is. I typically get nervous about the Sunday games on Friday and, when the Bears have a performance like they did against Houston, it ticks me off until the next Wednesday. But none of my common symptoms were there this week.

The reason is simple. The day after the Bears played their opener, my wife was scheduled to be induced and we welcomed the world’s newest Bears fan on Tuesday.

The Bears didn’t mean much to me last week and they don’t this week and I suppose that’s how it should be. But what happened last week shouldn’t mean much to you either. Just like the preseason, there’s a ton of instant reaction. But historically it hasn’t proven to be an indication of things to come.

Surely everyone remembers last season when the Rams beat the Seahawks and the 49ers thumped the Vikings? There were three playoff teams that lost to non-playoff teams last year and it seems to happen every year. Most of the teams in the league are still figuring out who they are the first three weeks of the season.

The Texans seem better than I thought (mostly because of Will Fuller) and the Bears have work to do. We knew the Bears wouldn’t be a finished product coming in. But what happened in Week 1 shouldn’t change your opinion of what kind of team the Bears have this year.

Coaches Have to Be Better

While I’m a big believer in the importance of winning in the trenches, the biggest area in which the Bears were out-classed Sunday was on the sidelines. John Fox single-handily cost the Bears a minimum of 11 points by not challenging two easy plays.

The first was a third-and-six catch by Hopkins in which he pretty clearly didn’t get two feet in — probably not even one foot — but Fox held on to the challenge flag. That drive ended with a touchdown pass to Hopkins. It should’ve ended with a punt.

The next was the quarterback sneak by Brock Osweiler in which Osweiler very clearly didn’t even get back to the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t even close. A few plays later, Will Fuller made fools of the Bears defense for a touchdown.

While NFL replays can often be a crapshoot, I don’t see anyway those calls would not have been overturned. But Fox didn’t challenge. That cost the team 11 points — assuming a made field goal on the second one — in a game they lost by nine points. Hell, even if they weren’t overturned, they were both worth a challenge.

Bears Should Take Notes

The Texans only asked Will Fuller to do one thing: be fast. They ran him deep and got him in space. That was it. Why didn’t the Bears try to do the same with Kevin White?

White is just as fast as Fuller, but a few inches and several pounds heavier. He’s a beast with the ball in his hands, but the Bears didn’t even try to get him in space. Ask him to do what he did well at West Virginia and build on it as you go along.

White has his issues. He showed them on the third quarter interception when he committed the cardinal sin of fooling his quarterback. But it is the job of the coaching staff to play to their strengths. White’s is that he’s freakishly big and fast. Let him be that and worry about the rest later.

I Miss Robbie

History suggests that if the Bears had Robbie Gould as their kicker, they would’ve had six more points on Sunday.

With momentum on their side, Fox uncharacteristically decided to go for it on fourth-and-one. Although the play call was dumb, I admire his aggressiveness and thought it was a sign that the team was going to be more aggressive this year. We learned otherwise later in the game.

The Bears had a fourth down from Houston’s 38 later and Fox elected to punt it instead of attempting a 55-yard field goal, indoors, with the team ahead by a point. If you have a decent kicker, you kick the field goal there. But the Bears couldn’t even consider it.

Robbie Gould was a weapon last year and Fox knew it, attempting nine field goals of 50 yards or more. Gould made seven of those kicks. Given the perfect conditions in Houston, there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t have made two last Sunday. But the Bears don’t have Gould. They have a guy who is only reliable when their red zone offense doesn’t come through.

I get the decision to replace Gould. I don’t understand why they replaced him with Connor Barth.

From the Chart

• The lack of pass rush from Willie Young really stood out as I didn’t have him with a single hit or hurry on Brock Osweiler.

• Cornelius Washington consistently found a way to get pressure on Osweiler, but was never able to get his hands on him. Washington had three hurries in 14 snaps

• If the Bears are going to get the most out of Akiem Hicks, they’re going to have to cut his snaps in half. Throughout his career, he has been at his best when he has played about 40 percent of his team’s snaps, he was at 82.7 percent on Sunday and was completely ineffective.

• Due to the birth of my son, I haven’t had time to chart the Bears’ offense yet, but I can tell you their offensive line wasn’t good. But I’m not worried about it because they were using a new starting five against arguably the best pass rush in the league. It was a bad matchup.

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