The game plan for the Chicago Bears on offense was to establish the run to open up the passing attack that would take advantage of a depleted Detroit Lions secondary. The run game was established but Jay Cutler once again struggled with his accuracy throughout the game. Prior to the sack by Ndamukong Suh that led to the bruised ribs, Cutler was 10 for 18 for a 55 completion percentage.
He struggled throughout most of the first half to stay above the 50-percent completion percentage, which has been the case all season.
The blame doesn't all fall on Cutler however, Mike Tice reverted to his pass happy strategy that prevented the offense from finding an overall rhythm in the game. While the final balance of the offense was an even 32 passes to 32 rushes, the bulk of the running plays came late in the game with the Bears leading.
Reverting back to the offensive game plan that caused early offensive struggles after the Bears had a week off to prepare for the Lions doesn't bode well for the future. The Bears again struggled on first down, and struggled on third down in this game. They finished with a 33-percent conversion percentage on third down. The previous two games where the Bears found their rhythm on offense saw them converting at a 58-percent conversion percentage on third downs.
On the plus side Matt Forte and Michael Bush combined for 132 yards rushing in the game. Their combined effort only highlights how off Mike Tice was in his play calling.
Where was the tight end involvement on offense that we saw over the last two games? Kellen Davis was targeted two times in this game, the lone reception he had was a flare pass that went for a mere three yards.
The Bears' passing game should have exploded for big yards, instead we're left to wonder if this defense can hold up over the rest of the season. There is young talent on defense, but eventually the offense is going to have to hold it's own on a consistent basis. The Bears cannot continually rely on the defense to bail them out because they will start to wear down when it matters most.
The defense once again put up a strong effort, which was the difference in this game. The main question is can this team hold up in December and if they make it into the playoffs in January?
The pass rush made a strong return, racking up three sacks of Matthew Stafford and adding in six QB hits. Charles Tillman once again completely shut down Calvin Johnson in the game, limiting Megatron to three receptions on 11 targets in the game. Tillman on an annual basis finds a way to completely dominate arguably the best receiver in the NFL. Tillman finished with seven tackles two pass breakups and two forced fumbles in the game. At this point it would be a disappointment if both Tillman and Tim Jennings didn't start next to each other in the Pro Bowl.
Notes and observations from the trenches:
Chilo Rachal is developing into a strong left guard for the Bears, he brings a nasty demeanor and is developing as a pass blocker. Rachal could be another one of the Mike Tice's reclamation projects that turns into a top level starter along the offensive line.
Gabe Carimi again struggled mightily in pass protection, only compounding the concerns surrounding his ability to protect Cutler. Carimi has been run around and through with Lions pass rushers beating him with speed off the edge and a powerful bull rush.
Stephen Paea continues to the least talked about top performer on the defensive line. Paea is easily the Bears' best run stopper on the defensive line since Lovie Smith arrived here in Chicago. While most fans want to see gaudy statistics from their defensive tackles, Paea's presence frees up other rushers to make the plays they have thus far this season.