Bears have their 'backs against the wall'
December 2, 2012, 7:06 pm
Right tackle Jonathan Scott is a relative newcomer but he cut to a painful core reality after Sunday’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks:
“Our backs are against the wall,” Scott said.
Losing a third out of four games against teams with winning records will put a team, even one that is still 8-4, in that unpleasant spot.
But that’s precisely where the Bears realistically are after being in the discussion of “NFL’s best” along with Atlanta and Houston before the Texans and San Francisco 49ers games effectively ended those musings.
Lovie Smith said during his pregame visit with WBBM play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak that the Bears were already in playoff mode. The problem is that they are now in danger of slipping out of the playoffs, sitting at the No. 5 seed right now.
Green Bay (8-4) is the de factor NFC North leader after putting down the Minnesota Vikings (6-6) on Sunday. Beyond the Packers’ having beaten the Bears already, which can be addressed by a Bears win in two weeks when Green Bay comes to Soldier Field, the Packers also are 3-0 in division play. The Bears and Packers are the only teams on each other’s remaining schedule with a record above .500. So what?
But all that playoff analysis means absolutely nothing if a team that prides itself on defense cannot make one stop with a game on the line. And Lovie Smith knows it.
“Once you get a lead, you’ve got to be able to hold a lead at home with our defense,” Smith said. “Defensively we didn’t get a lot done…Just not the type of football that we play around here.”
Smith needs to hope not. His defense allowed drives of 94, 107 (Seattle was penalized 10 yards and made that up a play later) and 85 yards (also with a penalty of their own thrown in and overcome).
The defense wasn’t admitting it was tired at the end of the game, but it clearly was, just looking at some of the 1,000-yard stares in the locker room afterwards. The concerning part of that is that it had nothing to do with age, heat or anything else, just bad play.
“I don’t think we were gassed,” said defensive end Shea McClellin. “We rotate in and out enough; we shouldn’t be gassed. I don’t think that was the issue.”
It wasn’t. You get tired when you’re on the field too long, and the issue was not finishing off Seattle on third-and-long’s when they presented themselves.
Smith acknowledged that poor tackling was a problem, and “we couldn’t get off blocks, we didn’t take the ball away enough.”
The ignominy on Sunday was that it was the third straight loss, at home, to Seattle. And it came just as the 49ers were losing in overtime, which would have put the Bears back in the No. 2 playoff spot had the Bears been able to make any sort of defensive stand. Just one, against rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, whom they couldn’t entirely keep up with even with the help of a “spy” system of assigning speed end Shea McClellin to keep an eye on the guy. Changes coming?
Coaches have made performance-based position changes this season, at two different spots on the offensive line, at defensive end and at nickel back.
CSNChicago colleague Jim Miller posited on our “Bears Postgame Live” that after two dismal defensive performances in three weeks, more changes perhaps should be in the offing.
Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli have rarely suffered perceived under-performance for long. And while virtually everyone is perhaps already on the field, playing time may be apportioned differently based on evaluations over the next few days. Surprised
Seattle threw some minor surprises at the Bears defense by using some shotgun formations that said “Pass” but were run plays or options, defensive players said.
The task then was just to stay on keys, which the Bears didn’t do, keep Russell Wilson in the pocket, which the Bears also didn’t do, and make tackles when they did get to where they needed to be, which they also didn’t do too well.
“We pride ourselves on playing defense,” said safety Major Wright, who missed a chance at an interception in the final minutes that would have ended Seattle’s go-ahead touchdown drive. “[Russell Wilson] got out of the pocket a couple of times and we had to break down and make tackles.”
Which didn’t happen soon enough.
Tags: NFC North
, Jay Cutler
, Seattle Seahawks
, Minnesota Vikings
, Atlanta Falcons
, Chicago Bears
, Lovie Smith
, Green Bay Packers
, Rod Marinelli