Losing to Tim Tebow hurts so bad that writing this post has actually made my fingers cry. Although that may be blood from throwing many objects while watching the game. I can't really tell.
The Bears lost 13-10 to the Broncos in overtime on Sunday, here are some observations from the game on each side of the ball.
Daryl Johnston made the excellent point that the Bears needed to keep Tim Tebow from rolling to his left. They had only limited success.
It was very evident that the Bears were determined to limit the run. Lots of guys near the line of scrimmage. Some man coverage with a deep safety.
There were a lot of camera shots of Julius Peppers early that left me wondering if his knee wasn’t bothering him more than in previous weeks.
I’m not entirely sure why the Bears didn’t have someone spying Tebow. He hurts you badly on the ground. Perhaps it was because they needed everyone in position to defend the option, including Brian Ulacher. Either he or Lance Briggs would have ordinarily drawn the duty. Johnston suggested late in the game that Craig Steltz may have been doing a little of it.
I’ll say this. As good as he runs, Tebow does not throw the ball well consistently. He winds up like a top and he’s not accurate much of the time.
As both Tony Siragusa and Johnston pointed out, the Bears defense just lost all aggressiveness as the first half wore on. The Bears would run a stunt or rush Tebow and he would run right by them. They were worried about their responsibilities on the option and about Willis McGahee. Too much thinking and not enough reacting. They did better in the second half but they still weren’t always as aggressive as usual.
The Broncos offense is an interesting problem. The Bears basically were successful because of their speed to the ball. Without it, they would have been in some trouble.
Give the Bears credit for playing with discipline, as well (penalties aside).
I’m guessing the long Bears offensive drive in the third quarter was welcome not just because it resulted in a touchdown but because it gave the Bears defense a rest in the thin air.
The Bears played very, very soft coverage in the fourth quarter. They had obviously watched the tape of how the Broncos were pulling off these miracles in previous games. The big play wan’t gong to happen.
Caleb Hanie rolled out for his first pass. That was different.
The Broncos weren’t stacking the box against the run early on first down against run personnel, apparently believing they could stop the Bears without doing so. Personally, I thought it was a mistake. There’s no reason not to try to pressure Hanie and make him beat you through the air.
As you might expect, the Bears took the gift and got started running the ball.
Good thing as Hanie was, once again, less than impressive. His accuracy was again suspect as even the screen passes were high (again).
The Broncos were blitzing reasonably effectively on obvious passing downs, particularly second down. The offensive line was having a tough time with pass protection and Hanie didn’t help by holding the ball too long (again).
The Bears played it conservative early, apparently choosing to rely on the defense. They didn’t go for it on fourth and one on the first possession and chose to run on 3rd and about 17 on the second. The tone was set.
As you might expect, the Broncos eventually came to the realization that the Bears weren’t going to beat them through the air. They stacked the box and crowded the line in the second half, exactly like they should have from the beginning.
To the Bears credit, they still ran the ball reasonably well. The line did a reasonable job of run blocking to my mind. It’s tough sledding when there’s zero fear of the pass.
The wide receivers were also having a tough time but it looked to me like they was separation there on occasion. They weren’t awful. Hanie just wasn’t hitting them in the short windows they were open.
As often as I’ve ridden Roy Williams for his drops, credit him with a great catch with 2:00 left in the third quarter on third down.
Johnston once again made the excellent point in the third quarter that the Bears needed to keep using Kahlil Bell. He withdrew the comment later but I thought he was right. Bell’s more versatile and he’s a better receiver. Marion Barber did well (until the fourth quarter) but I think he’s more suited to the change of pace back role. Perhaps they should be splitting the carries more evenly.
Kenny Albert, Johnston, Siragusa were just excellent. Johnston and Siragusa peppered the broadcast with good comments that the average fan like myself might not have otherwise picked up. It was a pleasure.
Wonderful job blocking the field goal in the second quarter. Peppers blocked it but give the whole unit credit for getting a good deal of penetration.
Robbie Gould could have hit that field goal at the end of the third quarter from a lot farther out than 57 yards. It wasn’t close.
Punt coverage was outstanding.
Hanie was, once again, not helped by his supporting cast as Devin Hester came out and dropped the first pass to him. The Bears were fortunate that the Broncos were even worse, dropping balls all over the field.
Personal fouls on the Bears defense in the first half kept Broncos drives going early. You can’t take shots on quarterbacks high or low. Guys on defense have to play with control or the team will pay.
The penalties weren’t limited to the defense. In a game like this one, every one was damaging and special teams and offense contributed their fair share. Lance Lewis had another poor game with some false starts, making me miss Gabe Carimi more than I thought I would at this point.
Hester had a face mask at a bad time late in the third quarter. Can’t run the ball when you are putting yourself in those downs and distances.
Wonderful interception on the sideline by Charles Tillman in the first quarter. Tebow held the ball too long once all game and the Steltz caused him to fumble the ball.
The Bears almost stayed alive in the playoff race because of their defensive speed and discipline. But if you’re going to run the ball offensively and survive that way, then the mistakes have to go completely away. No penalties, no drops, no Barber brain cramps, no margin for error. It’s a tough way to live.