They’re two guys with a combined 16 years in the NFL
and one postseason appearance. Along those lines, Kyle Long, who grew up in an NFL
family, should know better than to even insinuate that the Bears
fans were wrong to boo the team on Sunday. Reshad Jones’ 50-yard return of an interception
on Sunday was the fifth return of 35 yards or more of a Jay Cutler interception
. The Bears
punted and the Dolphins were on their way, outgaining them 201-45 the rest of the half in taking a 14-0 lead.
BY MARK POTASH Staff REporter October 20, 2014 12:58PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, left, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall warm up before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 in Chicago, (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: October 20, 2014 2:41PM
If only Aaron Rodgers could stop by Halas Hall and tell Brandon Marshall and the Bears to just R-E-L-A-X.
Since Rodgers gave that advice to his own fans ? and indirectly to his teammates ? the Packers are 4-0, with Rodgers posting passer ratings of 151.2, 138.7, 99.7 and 154.5, throwing 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Unfortunately, the Bears have shown no signs of that kind of leadership. Asking Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall to produce at a peak rate for more than a few weeks in a row is tough enough. Asking those two to pull you out of a hole is like trying to catch the wind with a butterfly net.
As hard as they try, as much as they might want to, Cutler and Marshall have shown little “leader-of-men” qualities. They’re two guys with a combined 16 years in the NFL and one postseason appearance. After losing to Carolina, Cutler addressed the disappointing performance of the offense and said, ‘We’re better than this.’ It lasted one week ? the victory against the Falcons ? and then the Bears were back in a worse offensive funk than ever, with Cutler leading the way.
The Bears’ problem in their current predicament is that their two most prominent players don’t command respect with their demeanor. You see Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers admonish a teammate on the sideline and their team usually snaps right to it. You see Cutler unhappy or Marshall in a rage and the concern is whether they’ll take the rest of the team down with them.
The Bears have a leadership void in their locker room whether they know it or not. Matt Forte, according to Cutler the most popular guy in the room, is a soft-spoken guy prone to leading by example. Lance Briggs prefers a complementary role whether he’s in Brian Urlacher’s shadow or not. Jared Allen and Jeremiah Ratliff just got here. Kyle Long has great potential but obviously needs work after admonishing fans for booing a 3-4 team that is 0-3 at home.
In Lovie Smith’s second year with the Bears in 2005, the team was in a similar bind at 1-3 after a loss to the Browns and safety Mike Brown ripped his team publicly. “We’re just terrible. It’s like we suck,” he said after viewing film of the loss to Cleveland. The Bears won their next eight games, finished 11-5 and went to the playoffs.
Who knows how much Brown’s criticism impacted the winning streak that followed, but there is no doubt that Mike Brown was a leader who made others respond and play better. He knew what to say and when to say it. That’s what these Bears are missing. That’s what these Bears need. It’s up to them to find that. But on this team, it’ll have to be a collective effort.
Nine more thoughts in this week’s First-and-10:
2. It’s probably not a coincidence that Marshall’s frustration boiled over against the Dolphins ? cornerback Cortland Finnegan just brings out the worst in him.
When Marshall was with the Dolphins and faced Finnegan and the Titans in 2010, Marshall had three receptions for 34 yards. His frustrating after being held to one catch for eight yards in the first half showed in the third quarter ? after a 10-yard catch, Marshall inexplicably fired the ball at the sideline, drawing a delay-of-game penalty.
In three games against Finnegan, Marshall has 14 receptions (out of 28 targets) for 153 yards, no touchdowns and ZERO yards after the catch. He’s had one play longer than 16 yards ? a 34-yard catch with the Bears against the Rams in 2012 with 4:11 left in the fourth quarter of a 20-6 game. Twice Finnegan has intercepted passes intended for Marshall.
3. It always seems to come back to Rodgers and the Packers, but it’s hard to ignore. Just last week, the Dolphins held Rodgers to his lowest completion percentage of the season (24-of-42, 57.1 percent) and had the Packers down 24-17 with five minutes to play in regulation. But the Dolphins made a series of coaching and physical blunders ? including a 23-yard net punt and an ill-advised time out ? that gave Rodgers a chance to beat them and he did, throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless with three seconds left to win 27-24.
That was the Bears’ biggest failing Sunday. They never gave the Dolphins a chance to beat themselves. The Packers did.
4. Still trying to figure out the risk-reward thought process of the third-and-one pass on the Bears’ first offensive possession that sure seemed to set the tone for the offense ? and perhaps even the defense.
On third-and-one from their 47, Cutler apparently saw an opportunity for a big play and threw a deep ball to Alshon Jeffery. It was either overthrown or underrun and wasn’t even close to connecting. The Bears punted and the Dolphins were on their way, outgaining them 201-45 the rest of the half in taking a 14-0 lead.
5. Is something wrong with Alshon Jeffery? Since his 74-yard reception against the Falcons, when he stumbled right after the catch, Jeffery has four receptions for 26 yards and one rush for minus-one yard.
Jeffery had two catches for nine yards against the Falcons and seemed to tackle himself on a four-yard wide receiver screen that set up Cutler’s ill-fated third-and-one bomb on the Bears’ first possession.
6. The Bears are leading the NFL in one dubious statistic ? they are allowing an average of 33.6 yards per interception this season. Reshad Jones’ 50-yard return of an interception on Sunday was the fifth return of 35 yards or more of a Jay Cutler interception.
Cutler has had his seven interceptions returned for 235 yards this season. For reference, the Packers’ Rodgers has had his 53 career picks returned for a total of 356 yards in 10 seasons.
7. Ex-Bears Player of the Week: Kyle Orton led a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the final 3:07 ? capped by a two-yard touchdown pass to rookie Sammie Watkins with two seconds left to give the Bills a 17-16 victory over the Vikings.
Orton was 8-for-12 for 105 yards on the drive, converting plays of fourth-and-20, second-and-20 and third-and-12 into first downs. For the game he was 31-of-43 for 283 yards, two touchdowns, one interception for a 95.4 rating.
Orton is now 2-0 against the NFC North.
8. Brandon Marshall might have a right to leave the details of the Bears’ post-game locker room shenanigans in-house, but the dissent in the locker room does not fall under the “That’s a team matter” umbrella. A lot of Bears fans invest a lot of time, money and emotion in this team and deserve to know if the team they are supporting is on tilt. It’s up to the Bears to clean up their own mess and in this day and age, part of that should be done publicly. It’s not our fault they’re 0-3 at home.
9. Along those lines, Kyle Long, who grew up in an NFL family, should know better than to even insinuate that the Bears fans were wrong to boo the team on Sunday. Long predictably backtracked during his Monday appearance on WXRT-FM.
“It was wrong for me to point fingers at the fans,” said Long, whose father, Howie Long, is a Hall of Fame defensive end. “if we were giving them something to cheer about there would be a lot more cheers coming off the field at halftime. Hopefully the score would be a little bit closer, as well.
“That falls on our shoulders. It’s unfair to put it on the fans. There was a lot of frustration after the game. You work hard all week. You’re trying to string some wins together. You’re at home. You feel like you’re riding the momentum, and to be down 14-0 going into the half, it’s tough. It’s tough on everybody, obviously.”
10. Perhaps the one positive of the day was Chris Williams’ 50-yard kickoff return to the Bears 45-yard-line with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Bears a chance for the quick score they needed for a comeback victory. The Bears’ longest kickoff return prior to that was 24 yards.