Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bears Positives in Buffalo Loss

I hopped in the car on Sunday evening to pick up my daughter from work and heard a barrage of negatives on the Bears on the car radio after their loss to Buffalo.  I think there is no question that the Bears looked bad and I certain hope that the game is remembered more as an anomole than a representation for the season, but I was actually impressed in a lot of ways.
First, when Cutler threw an interception and he acted as he had acted in seasons past, I was worried.  He had that you receivers screwed up look on his face to suggest that a route was not run properly and the interception resulted from a Bear absence where the ball was thrown.  He seemed to get over it quickly though and even though he was chased around quite a bit on the day, he seemed at least to me to be more in accord with his teammates as opposed to separating himself.  In my opinion, this is the most important element of the Bears play--to have the quarterback play as a leader and take the heat for the team.  Not all quarterbacks are magnanimous, but at least the appearance of it makes a huge difference.

Second, Trestman remained Trestman.  The Brandon Marshall pass where his legs were twisted under him that was originally ruled an incompletion was followed by Marshall gamely limping over to Trestman telling him to throw the challenge flag.  The TV announcers seemed to believe that Trestman was convinced by Marshall to challenge the play, but my read was that Trestman was waiting for his assitants who were reviewing the play themselves to confirm the decision to challenge. It was clear enough from the film that Marshall had caught the ball, but in my opinion, the real question was whether the Bears or the Bills had possession at the end of the play.  Trestman was being Trestman.

Third, the fact that Marshall was whacked bad and kept getting back in and playing was significant.  Talk is cheap, especially in a game like football, but Brandon Marshall clearly put it on the line for the Bears in the Buffalo game.  

Fourth, the Conte episode where he was run over by Fred Jackson looked awful, but it was more a poor tackling decision than anything else.  But after the game Conte said he felt like he had to make a play for the ball as Jackson was all ready in field goal range.  I believe Conte.  After Conte was pushed aside, Bostic made the tackle with a leap and grab below the waist. It was an ugly play for Conte, but maybe he really didn't have any choice, there were other Bears who were responsible for how far along Jackson was at the time.  But let's not forget that it also showed tremendous hustle on Bostic's part.  And each day that Bostic gets better, the Bears defense gets closer to returning to the monsters of the Midway.  

And perhaps the most obvious positive on the day is that the Bears came back and did not give up.  They fought back.  Another positive is that the defense played well in the second half. 

My own theory is that preseason is no longer enough to get teams ready to play at their full potential.  New rules make it more difficult to work the players vigilantly into shape and the philosophy of injury avoidance in preseason also means that for the first few games of the season on many teams the players are just not quite ready for prime time.  Of course, it doesn't make the Buffalo loss any more easy to take when you think that it only gets more difficult from here on out for the Bears.

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