Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last night epitomized the 08 Bears

Somehow, after getting crushed for 4 quarters of a football game, the Bears managed to win in OT and stay alive in the playoff race. Honestly, we were outplayed and over-matched for the entire game - if I hadn't known the score and missed a few minutes of the game, I would have thought it was 28-0 Fudgepackers at halftime.

Which leads me to making a few observations from last night that more generally define our 2008 season:

1) Dan Manning is awesome. Not just on kick returns either, the guy is a standout on special teams (both sides of the ball) and is becoming a really good nickle back.  He started last season but is really coming into his own this year and it shows with his steadily increasing minutes. Because his kick returns have been so impressive, the rest of his growth has been overlooked. Lovie called him "one if not the best athlete on this team" in the press conference last night and I tend to agree.

2) Our recievers are better than advertised. We all saw the clip last night where our WR's ranked in the bottom 5-10 teams in the NFL for every conceivable statistic. I've gotta call bullshit on that for a few reasons. First, we don't go deep very often (likely because Orton's range is about 30 yards max) and most of our pass plays are designed for 5-15 yards in Ron Turner's scheme. Looking at our depth, we're not in bad shape: Olsen got over his early season case of the fumbles and is a dynamic TE, one of the best in the league; Hester has matured into a B+ receiver with decent hands, great speed and an open-field nightmare; Brandon Lloyd/Marty Booker/Rashied Davis are all solid options with their own individual strengths (although none of them are outstanding). Our WR's are fine for our scheme, and our scheme is designed for Orton. Questioning Orton is another issue...

3) Our defense is defined by big plays and takeaways. There is no doubt the Bears have a solid defense - great young talent, great veteran leadership, an excellent culture and real pride (you see anyone in long sleeves last night in the -3 weather?? Didn't think so.). However, we aren't on par with the Steelers or the Ravens or even the Giants this season. We're actually not even ranked that highly outside of our run D:

Not that impressive. 

What makes us an elite unit is the recurring theme of big time clutch plays. When we need a turnover, somehow, we get one. We force a lot of fumbles, we get a lot of INT's and we make SMART plays. When we need a blocked kick to have a chance at the playoffs - TADA! Maybe we're not the most consistently dominant D and sure we give up some points and you can throw on us but in a close game on a key 3rd or 4th down late in the game, there is no team in the league I'd trust more to get the ball back than our boys. We're top 5 in INT's, defensive TD's and lead the league with 4 blocked kicks this season.

This was a huge win on a big time Monday Night game and we've got a tough matchup against a hot Houston team next week on short rest. We all know the playoff scenarios but to keep it simple: Root for the Giants, Eagles and Raiders next week.




Josh said...

Although I agree that the Bears are facing a "hot" Houston team, this is the same team that lost to Oakland. Oakland couldn't beat Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl. On a side note, come on Raiders beat the ageless Jeff Garcia and the Bucs. Also, I am waiting for the Bears to turn Daniael Manning into a wide receiver. Seems like the most logical thing to do since we did turn the greatest return man into a modern day Jeff Graham. At least this sad excuse of a football team is playing another meaningful game this sunday, GO Bears, Giants, Raiders, Eagles, Wildkits, ICJA Aces.

The TPC said...

Keggs great job breaking down the game/team.

I especially loved how you called Danieal Dan. You cant even bear the the thought of calling him a girls name.

I have 2 issues with your assessment. I think the WR's suck ass. Marty booker wasnt good 5 years ago and lloyd/davis are inconsistent. Hester is good but needs a lot more work.

Also, no mention of brendon Ayenbadajo. Cmon, Brother Up Fool!

Keggers said...

First of all, who are you Josh? I appreciate your erudite commentary on my post.

Secondly, the TPC strikes again: good point on Lloyd/Booker and on Hester but I still think we're better off than a lot of other teams (Miami, SF, Jax, Oakland, TB, Seattle) although I broadly agree - our WR's suck.