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Week 6: Bears bumble their way to stunning loss to Jaguars

Sunday, October 16, 2016 15:26
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Here are some thoughts about the Bears’ loss 17-16 to the Jaguars, which dropped them to 1-5 on the season.

1. Bears offense sputters after hot start

I’ll have more to say about Brian Hoyer later, but for now, let’s focus on the offense as a whole. First off, given that the Bears were winning up until 2:49 left in the game, why did the Bears only hand off to their backs 25 times in this game? I get that Howard struggled to get much going on the ground, hence the nine carries for Ka’Deem Carey, but 26 rushes versus 49 pass attempts when they were winning virtually all day is unconscionable. If the Grim Reaper was thinking about sparing Dowell Loggains, I think it’s time he reconsidered. The offensive line really had their hands full with Malik Jackson, Sheldon Day, and co., struggling to open up running lanes much of the day. Cody Whitehair didn’t play up to his normal standard, and Kyle Long’s shoulder injury might be starting to come through in his play. The Bears should have won this game by multiple touchdowns given how well they moved the ball and how well their defense played. But this offense just can’t get out of its own way. And it’s starting to get really ugly to watch.

2. Defense plays well, but can’t hold off late run

For most of the game, the Bears run defense thoroughly dominated the Jaguars offensive line, forcing Blake Bortles to beat them through the air. And for the most part, he couldn’t do it, throwing inaccurately and being careless with the football. Then the 4th quarter happened… Bortles started dissecting the Bears defense, going 7-for-7 at one point on an early 4th quarter drive that resulted in a field goal. Then, he moved the ball with relative ease down the field with under four minutes, finally striking gold with a 51-yard TD pass to Arrelious Benn. After dominating the first half, the Bears just run out of gas in the second half. To be fair, too, they weren’t helped out by an offense that stalled multiple times and managed only two field goals after the break. On the bright side, Willie Young has been absolutely on fire lately and didn’t let up today. He made upped his sack total over the last two games to five, including a strip-sack that Akiem Hicks ended up recovering.

3. The other side of the Brian Hoyer coin

As mentioned before, Hoyer wasn’t alone in his struggles today. That said, the reckoning that I’ve been telling people was coming arrived in part today. For one, he clearly struggled more with accuracy in this game than he had in his previous starts. Coming into this game completing around 71% of his passes, he went 30/49 (61%) against the Jags. He particularly struggled when trying to make throws down the field, such as when he missed Jeffery on a sure touchdown where he beat Jalen Ramsey easily. In general, his lack of chemistry with Jeffery was notable. On at least three occasions, Hoyer threw to a spot that Alshon simply wasn’t at, including a goal line throw in which he threw a potential TD pass at least three yards behind him. He clearly made an effort to get him involved early in the game, but again, Jeffery became a non-factor in the second half, registering only a catch for three yards after killing Ramsey in the first half for six catches/90 yards. After engineering an excellent 86-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard TD run from Jordan Howard, Hoyer was unable to get the Bears into the end zone again. Nice, conservative throws look great sometimes, but if that’s all you do, you won’t score. And if you don’t score, you don’t win.

4. Cameron Meredith making the most of his opportunities

Outside of a couple of fumbles this season, including a back-breaking one last week against the Colts, the former ISU quarterback has been proving he deserves a bigger role in this offense. After posting nine catches for 130 yards and a TD last week, Meredith grabbed ten more catches for 113 yards in this one. Perhaps his most impressive play was turning a screen pass that look doomed to be a 2-yard loss into a 36-yard gain, showing impressive run-after-catch ability. He certainly seems to be making the most of his chances while filling in for the injured Kevin White, and as long as Hoyer remains the quarterback, there’s no reason to expect him to stop excelling.

Other notes:

-I’ve been a fan of Jacoby Glenn’s since training camp, but his last couple of games have been forgettable. He got abused last week on T.Y. Hilton’s game-winning touchdown, and this week he committed three penalties, getting flagged for defensive pass interference twice. When Deiondre’ Hall gets healthy, it might be time to see if he can do a better job than Glenn if Bryce Callahan struggles to stay healthy. -Memo to John Fox: I really like Ka’Deem Carey, but stop playing him over Jordan Howard. That’s…just not very smart. I realize that Howard couldn’t get much going against a Jags front that really gave the offensive line a hard time, but once Carey shows that he can’t either, quit rolling with him. -Connor Barth made all of his field goal attempts. HURRAY!


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