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Data Responds: Bears at Packers

| September 29th, 2017

Two road games, two blowout losses for the 2017 Bears. Green Bay won the first quarter 14-0 after a great opening drive, followed by a 3-yard touchdown after Mike Glennon turned it over on Chicago’s first offensive snap. Things stayed quiet until the end of the first quarter, when a 47 minute lightning delay led to what felt like the start of another game.

Of course, the Bears still had Mike Glennon in at quarterback, so nothing changed. He turned the ball over 3 more times and shut down the entire offense with his incompetence before racking up just enough garbage time stats to make his performance somewhat defensible if you squint (stop me if you’ve heard that before).

Coaching

  • We’re starting here tonight, beginning with the continued ineptitude making appropriate personnel decisions late in a blowout. With all the practice the Bears’ coaches have gotten in these situations in the last few years, you’d think they would be great at it by now, but they’re not. Down 28 points in the 4th quarter, the Bears rode Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, their two best offensive players, to a meaningless late touchdown. Zach Miller, their best tight end who has made a career out of going to IR, played while rookie Adam Shaheen sat on the bench. Why? This is literally a fireable offense if the team’s management cares about their personnel at all.

  • We’re not done with bad coaching decisions though. Jordy Nelson, the Packers’ #1 WR who has routinely torched the Bears, somehow caught not one but two touchdown passes without a single defender thinking it might be a good idea to cover him.
  • Seeing as I’ve gone in on Fox and Fangio, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains deserves some criticism too. Their offense was far too predictable based on personnel groupings; more on that below.

Offense

  • On the first snap, they lined up in a heavy run look and tried a play action deep pass. You can understand the logic there, as it’s literally the last thing anybody would expect after three games of watching this offense. Of course, the reason the Bears haven’t been trying that is because of Mike Glennon, who fumbled on the play despite having sufficient time and an open target. Green Bay recovered on the 3 yard line, and by the time the offense got back on the field for their 2nd snap, it was 14-0 and the game was over.
  • Chicago started moving the ball on the 2nd drive until Glennon turned it over again. This time, Glennon gave the silent snap signal but started walking up to the line to change the call because heĀ  thought nobody on the OL saw it. Consequently, he was unready for the snap, which he deflected over his OL right into the heart of GB’s defense. For those scoring at home, that means the first two possessions ended with Glennon turnovers, which is somehow not his worst start to a game in this young season.
  • The third drive ended with a 3-and-out punt instead of a turnover, which is progress, I guess. On 2nd down, Glennon somehow misfired on a screen pass, which he followed up with (stop me if you’ve heard this before) a checkdown to a well-covered receiver well short of the first down markers.
  • Coming off the delay, the Bears had a chance to make this a game. They had 1st and 10 in Green Bay territory, then ran it 3 straight times to pick up a 1st down on the edge of field goal range. They then ran for 15 yards against a 9-man box, only to have it called back on holding by Josh Sitton. On 1st and 20, the drive was over. A called screen was dropped by Jordan Howard, but it wasn’t going anywhere anyway, as Green Bay was obviously waiting for it. 2nd down featured a checkdown, then 3rd and long saw a pass deep to a triple-covered Josh Bellamy. I know I’ve been telling Glennon to go deep, but checking down there puts the Bears in field goal range. And if he was going to go deep, Kendall Wright was uncovered down the sideline. The Bears punted, which pretty much ended any chance they had at making this a game.
  • The game officially ended on the next drive, when Mike Glennon turned the ball over for a third time. This time it was an interception, as he overthrew a wide open receiver in the middle of the field (I’m now going to toot my own horn for a minute and point out that I predicted 3+ turnovers from Glennon on Monday). Two plays later, Green Bay was up 21-0.
  • To Glennon’s credit, he settled in a bit right before halftime and didn’t totally suck (though he was far from good) for parts of the second half (though he did add turnover #4, another interception on a horrible pass). Still, it would be nice to see that performance from the start instead of placing Chicago in a massive hole first.
  • You have to think 4 turnovers in this game (and now 8 on the season) is finally enough to cost Glennon his job, especially with 11 days before the Bears play again on Monday Night in week 5. There is simply zero justification remaining for Glennon to be Chicago’s starter. If the Bears are absolutely opposed to not playing Trubisky for some stupid reason, then they should turn to Mark Sanchez.
  • I’m sorry for spending so long on the QB here, but I really don’t know what else to talk about. There is no way to watch this game and come away with any conclusion other than Mike Glennon needs to be benched, and that is the overwhwelmingly dominant story. Let’s try to look elsewhere now.
  • It was the first game this year with the entire starting OL playing, which was nice to see. Despite offseason plans to flip them, the Bears kept their 2016 alignment of Kyle Long at right guard and Josh Sitton at LG. Given Long’s dominant debut at RG last week, that seems like a smart move to me.
  • The Bears tried to establish the run, but were unable to. In the first half, they ran it 14 times for 31 yards, an average of only 2.2 yards per carry. They stayed under 2.5 until garbage time in the 4th quarter. Green Bay copied the Atlanta and Tampa Bay blueprint and loaded the box with bodies, daring Mike Glennon to beat them through the air. Spoiler alert: he couldn’t. I noticed a number of plays where the Packers had 8-9 men in the box, but the Bears ran it right at them anyway.
  • The Bears were able to get GB to drop into more coverage looks by going to shotgun, but they almost never ran out of that. They got too predictable: run out of I-formation (against an 8-9 man box) and pass out of shotgun (against a 6-man box). They need to mix that up a bit more going forward.
  • One thing that did help the Bears get a few nice runs again this week was faking the end-around to Tarik Cohen. That’s been a nice wrinkle by offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, I expect to see them actually give him that ball before long.
  • Speaking of Cohen, it was a quiet game for him. He didn’t get many touches on offense until garbage time in the 4th quarter, at which point he shouldn’t have gotten any more touches but did for some dumb reason.

Defense

  • Bears gave up points on the 1st drive again. As Andrew Dannehy has repeatedly pointed out, there’s a strong correlation under this coaching staff between giving up points on the first drive and losing games. With this offense, a 7-0 lead before they even hit the field feels huge.
  • The Bears won the coin toss and deferred. I get why they do that, but given their early defensive struggles, they might want to start considering getting the ball first.
  • Green Bay came out establishing the run, which seemed to catch the Bears off guard. They ran it 5 times for 28 yards on the first drive as they marched down the field for an easy touchdown. The run game slowed down after that, helped by running back Ty Montgomery leaving during the first drive with an injury.
  • The defense actually settled in pretty well after the first drive, but it didn’t matter. They need a perfect performance with Chicago’s offense, and they weren’t perfect on the first drive.
  • Green Bay played this game with their top 3 (4? 5?) offensive tackles out, and Chicago’s pass rushers did not take advantage as much as they should have. There was some pressure, as Pernell McPhee killed one early drive with a sack, and Leonard Floyd finally got off the schneid with a 3rd down sack as well, but the defensive front did not dominate as much as I would have liked given Green Bay’s injuries. I wonder how much of that had to do with the field, which was incredibly slippery after the weather delay. That makes a disciplined rush against a mobile QB like Rodgers very difficult.
  • Still, I have no real complaints about the defensive performance after the first drive other than the failure to force turnovers, which are vital to stay in a game when the offense is this inept. They held GB in check after the 1st drive until late in the 3rd quarter, at which point it was obvious the offense was not getting them back in the game.
  • Danny Trevathan had a horrible cheap shot late in the 3rd quarter that took away a Bears’ stop on 3rd down, turning a FG into a TD. More importantly, it knocked Green Bay WR Davante Adams unconscious and forced him to leave on a stretcher. He crushed Adams in the head after Adams was wrapped up and couldn’t avoid the hit. There is simply no room for that in football. That play will bring him a hefty fine, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it draws a suspension.

Special Teams

  • In news that should surprise no one, Connor Barth missed another field goal attempt, this one from 47 yards. I don’t know why he was ever re-signed, or why he’s still on the roster. It’s just another example of the Bears confusingly being loyal to mediocre journeymen veterans.
  • The ST almost had a costly turnover in the first half when Deon Bush didn’t clear out from his blocking assignment after Tarik Cohen called off the punt. I don’t know if that was on Cohen for not communicating properly or Bush just didn’t hear him, but the ball may or may not have hit Bush’s foot before Green Bay recovered. Thankfully, the evidence wasn’t clear enough to overturn the call of Bears’ ball on the field, but they need to figure out what happened there and make sure it never happens again.
  • Bush also roughed the punter in the fourth quarter, though he got away with it when the refs incorrectly ruled they got a piece of the punt. It wouldn’t have mattered one bit for the game outcome, but he needs to show better ST discipline.

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