Monday, February 05, 2007

New Generation of Bears Fans Not So Thrilled With T Formation

I said before the Super Bowl that I could see the game playing out in just about any way. One possibility that I did not anticipate was the Bears playing poorly, but still having the ball down less than a touchdown in the fourth quarter. But that's what happened. It was an odd game. In fact, after the game, the Official Father of the Fan Club, aka Hawaii Mike, said that if the two teams played again, he still would have no idea what outcome to expect. Hawaii Mike is no Bears fan. But none of this changes the fact that the Bears were badly outplayed, probably worse than the score indicates.

Some things went as expected. The Bears got a big play in the return game. The Bears were excellent all year in the return game and the Colts were bad all year in coverage. No surprises there. And both teams ran the ball well. The Colts picked up 191 yards on 42 carries. Finesse team, huh? Actually, I think Dominic Rhodes should have been the run away MVP winner, but sentiment prevailed there. Anyway, the Bears ran for 111 yards of their own on 19 carries. That's 5.8 yards a pop.

And yet on what I believe was the key series of the game, the Bears got pass happy. The Bears were lucky to go into the break down 16-14. And, the Colts came out to open the second half and moved the ball at will. Their drive lasted 13 plays and more than seven and a half minutes. But the Bears managed to hold them to a field goal and remained, luckily, one score down at 19-14.

The Bears needed to answer. They needed to give their D time to rest. Their first two plays were passes that picked up 23 yards and put the Bears at 2nd and 1 in Indy territory. I begged the TV for a simple run. Pick up the first down and you have a whole new set of downs to get cute with. It is a widely held misconception that second and short is a free play. Throw and incompletion and you can pick up the first on the next play. The Bears demonstrated why that's a fallacy. A sack, a fumble, and 22 yards later the Bears were punting on 4th and 23 from their own 33.

The game, I believed, was over, especially when the Colts scored again on the ensuing possession to make it a two score game. And yet, the Bears had the ball, down only five points, in the 4th quarter. The holding call against John Tait that erased a 12 yard Thomas Jones run to start the drive was huge. Three plays later, Evil Rex arrived, and the game really was over. The interception run back for a touchdown was a huge mental lock-up. Rex didn't try to make a throw, he just threw it up and prayed. The second pick a few minutes later was a good play, but a terrible throw. The ball was underthrown and delivered too late, wasting a wide open Bernard Berrian. The truth is Grossman looked scared and overwhelmed all night, even if his numbers weren't terrible. Maybe he'll grow out of it, but next year is his last chance.

Despite everything that went wrong, the Bears had a chance to win in the 4th quarter and couldn't come through. Whoever won this game was going to be one of the weaker teams to ever win a Super Bowl, either deeply flawed at QB or on defense. And appropriately, the game was one of the sloppiest, most turnover laden in Super Bowl history. But all that aside, the Indianapolis Colts are Super Bowl champions. Excellence on one side of the ball is enough in today's NFL to be a legitimate contender. Which should give Bears fans hope for next year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bears' yards per carry is misleading. Without Jones' big 52 yard gain, the average is only 3.28. They weren't nearly as successful as the Colts at running the football.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Excelletn on ONE side of the ball", what? ya, the D was bad the second half of the season, and bad against the rush almost all season, but the playoffs were a different story. I would not go so far as to call them excellent, but very good for sure. Colts one sided? You are just jumping on that bandwagon of an idea my friend. I saw a well rounded, physical team all throughout the playoffs, passing, rushing, and on defense.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

absolutely, the defense of the Colts looked excellent in their 4 straight playoff victories. Further, does that make them the first dome team to win a super bowl played outdoors? I think it does...

I kept hearing all day how it was "Bears weather" down there and that they'd have a distinct advantage because the Colts aren't physical enough to play with the Bears. The D was tremendous and the O-Line put a BEATING on a defense that most Bears fans had been comparing to '85 all season. I kept telling them all season how wrong they were, but you can't talk badly about the Bears in this town or you get your ass kicked.

Well, there it is. Not only did they get out-played, they were physically dominated in all aspects of the game.

4:16 PM  
Blogger anon said...

> I kept hearing all day how it was "Bears weather" down there...

Then you were listening to jackasses. On no planet would "70 degrees with a light drizzle" be considered "Bear weather."

> ...a defense that most Bears fans had been comparing to '85 all season.

You need to find yourself some smarter friends. Doing so might disabuse you of your opinions of what "most Bears fans" believe.

> ...they were physically dominated in all aspects of the game.

The Bear linemen were utterly manhandled on both sides of the ball. I don't think you can say the same thing in regards to their DBs, special teams and, to a lesser extent, their receivers. Last I checked, though, these were all still important aspects of the game.

Bitterly yours,

One Hung-Over Bears Fan in Rogers Park

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Hideki Matt Suey said...

How about them Bulls?

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having cut my teeth on Bears football I was shocked at how the D failed to show up in such a BIG game. Granted injuries have hurt this year but I think the Bears are lucky they played the Colts. If they had played San Diego or New England, I'm afraid it would have been even uglier than it was.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bears weather comment came in refefence to indy being a dome team. And if you were there, it wasn't a light drizzle my friend. It was coming down in sheets all night.

The special teams was AWFUL too. The Hester return was great, but after that they did NOTHING. indy adjusted and the bears did nothing but fumble away the football and crap the bed the rest of the night.

My friends weren't the ones making these comments, my friends were much smarter... these are just random things I heard from ridiculous people all season...the media especially overhyped this team.

the receivers were definitely dominated. did you watch the little effort on the 2 indy picks? Muhamed was loafing and could easily have knocked that guy out of bounds with a little effort on the pick 6, if not break up the pass to begin with.

and the DBs were leaving receivers open all night. They were falling down on the wet field. they didn't tackle anyone. They would have looked worse had the colts not dropped a few balls.

no, i stand by my original comment, they were dominated in every aspect of the game. watch it with an unbiased eye. personally, I couldn't care less about either team so I may just have the perspective on this one. if anything, I was rooting for the bears since I've lived here for a long time.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Criminal Appeal said...

Re #1:
The Bears rushing attack was terrible in the 1st half if you eliminate the big gain. But Jones was actually above 4 yards a carry in the second half. And while the Bears were down in the 2nd half, they were within a score most of the way. No time to abandon the run. Yes, the Colts ran better, but that's a tribute to the Colts' excellent rushing attack, moreso than a failure by the Bears.

Re #2:
I was actually talking about the Bears when I said excellence on one side of the ball. But the Colts were one of the most defensively flawed teams to ever win the Super Bowl. A couple of good games doesn't change that. Their defense was terrible for 16 weeks in the regular season, and not so hot in the AFC Championship game. It's no bandwagon. Football Outsiders weighted DVOA after the playoffs still had the Colts' run defense in the bottom third of the league. The Bears were simply more flawed.

Re #3:
I didn't think the weather would play a role, but the Colts certainly adjusted to the realities of the conditions better than the Bears. Of course, as every Bears fan knows, the Bears are historically pretty bad in bad weather. And NO ONE I know thought this was a great Bears defense once Brown and Harris went down, much less an '85 kind of D. Also, while Bears fan aren't as cynical as Philly or Boston fans for example, they're no longer an especially arrogant or even optimistic bunch.

Re #7: I think its hard to accuse Mariotti or Salisbury of overhyping this team, for example. Of course, most of the media is too busy spewing some prefab human interest story to bother analyzing the game, but if anything I think there was a section of the media here rooting against the Bears all year just so they'd be proven right about Rex. As for Super Bowl Sunday, the Bears were indeed outplayed and physically manhandled, as you said. But I still think the Bears win 4 out of 10 against the Colts. As one commenter said, the Chargers, Patriots, and maybe even Ravens all probably beat up the Bears worse than the Colts do. But that's why the playoffs determine a champion, as opposed to who the best team is. And, hey, this way we get to come in second, instead of being 4th or 5th.

5:42 PM  

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