Re-Focused: Week 13, Bears at Lions

| 6 years ago

Re-Focused: Week 13, Bears at Lions

The Bears sneak a win and move to 9-3, a game clear at the top of the NFC North, but the manner in which they got their win over a Drew Stanton-led Lions team won’t help silence the detractors.

Anyone looking to question the credentials of the Bears’ ability to contend need only look to the capitulation just before the half, when they surrendered a touchdown to Detroit on a pair of plays with almost the entire field to span and around a minute in which to do it.

But credit the win, and they were able to keep Detroit’s better players away from killing them for the majority of the game.
Bears: Three performances of note

Jay Cutler had a solid and efficient game, but the player who was killing the Lions was Earl Bennett (+3.2). Cutler and Bennett brought back memories of their Vanderbilt days and kept destroying the Lions on lightning-fast, one-step, quick slants from the slot. Detroit couldn’t figure out how to cover it and the Bears kept picking away and moving the chains. Any time the Lions blitzed a linebacker or DB on that side, the Bears hit the quick slant and picked up 10.

We’ve been accused of ignoring the season Brian Urlacher (+5.4) is having, but another excellent game will go a long way to forcing him into Pro Bowl contention. Urlacher may end up being a casualty of numbers in the NFC in our final ballot, with several other ILBs having great years, but he was dominant in this game, rushing the passer well and making frequent stops around the line of scrimmage.

Pass protection is still a major issue for Chicago, with both Frank Omiyale (-2.7) and JMarcus Webb (-2.7) struggling badly in (both players graded positively against the run). They combined to give up 10 total pressures on Cutler during this game, including a pair of sacks, and it’s an awfully big ask to expect a quarterback to play well in spite of that kind of protection long-term. If the Bears have serious aspirations of challenging this season they need to figure out a way to reliably protect Cutler, especially around the edge.

Lions: Three performances of note

Cliff Avril (+7.6) had a monster game, racking up three sacks and five further pressures on the day from just 27 attempts rushing the passer. Avril was able to put pressure on the passer once every 3.38 rushes and was a constant thorn in the side of the Bears. Often the forgotten man in the Detroit front, Avril has impressive pass-rushing skills and a tendency to get hot in games when he is in the mood.

Ndamukong Suh (-1.3) won’t win anybody over with his performance in this game. Anyone that wants to see what we mean when we talk about his struggles against the run and against unorthodox blocking schemes needs only to watch the first couple of drives in this game. On the very first play he was hit with a trap block to open up a running lane, and the Bears frequently confused and distracted him with blockers other than the man lined up directly in front of him. It seems the Bears more than anyone else have figured out how to play against Suh, and while he has definitely been improving over the past few weeks, this game highlights what he still has to learn. To his credit, he did show up with a batted pass at the line of scrimmage, showing good awareness even on a bad day.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (-5.6) had a day to forget. Pettigrew managed to stink it up across the board, struggling in his blocking, dropping passes, and being flagged for penalties. It’s interesting that a guy billed as one of the most complete tight end prospects in years at the time of his drafting has managed to struggle more or less in all areas.

Rookie report

Major Wright (+0.5) continued to see a bigger portion of the game, recording 31 snaps on D for Chicago.

For Detroit, Jahvid Best (+1.0) only played 16 snaps, but actually looked as good as he has for some time, and probably deserved more. … Amari Spievey (+0.2) again started at safety and played almost all of the defensive snaps. He didn’t distinguish himself either positively or negatively.

Random note

Announcer Tim Ryan referred to Suh as “the best defensive tackle in pro football. Rookie or ten-year veteran, it doesn’t matter.” Now, come on. Rookie of the Year talk is one thing, but that’s just silly.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • pzaroo

    Can you please explain why Brandon Pettigrew “has managed to struggle more or less in all areas”? I agree that he had a bad game against the Bears, but from what I calculated right before the Thanksgiving Day game, he was fifth in the league in receiving yards by a tight end and, contrary to popular belief, was top five in receptions-to-targets. He’s had a handful of outright drops this season, but otherwise, he’s been quite sure-handed. When a defender hacks your arms or the ball after you’ve caught it, but as you’re trying to pull it into your gut, and that causes you to drop the ball, that’s a good play by the defender, not a bad play by the receiver.

    • Neil Hornsby

      We tend not to focus on yards as that can often be more of a function of targets than anything else and as you may suspect he leads the league in that regard (85). As for rec./tgt he runs at just over 70% which is mid range for a TE (ranked 30th out of 64 of TE’s with more than 200 snaps). In addition he’s dropped 9 balls (tops among TEs). However, as Sam states, it doesn’t end there – his run blocking, which initially showed some promise this year has degenerated and he’s been struggling there again.

    • OwenXVI

      Zaroo, he’s like 270lbs, yet I think last week he broke his first tackle in two years, and you know he’s not going to out-run anyone with his lack of speed. He knocked Orakpo down at the Sr. Bowl and everyone wants to put him in the TE blocking Hall of Fame. How’s that Detroit running game been looking since he’s been around? Face it – he’s just not as special as you, Shep, and Linehan think!

  • visible

    Are you serious about Suh? Turk McBride and Cliff Avril looked like pro-bowlers because Chicago paid so much attention to Suh. Suh has been beating double teams all year long and he has made the rest of the d-line better, which is the first indicator of a stud. McBride and Avril were both terrible before they got to play with Suh on the line. There is a reason he is leading all DT in pro bowl voting, because he is the best DT in the league, and its not even close.

    • Sam Monson

      Cliff Avril beating his man one on one had nothing to do with Suh in that game. Suh didn’t attract any more double teams than Corey Williams did in the game, the only way he was treated differently was in the way the Bears obviously planned to exploit his weaknesses against trap blocks, down blocks from outside blockers, and his problems dealing with guys taking him on that aren’t lined up directly in front of him.

      He has absolutely made the rest of the D-line better, but that’s largely because it was a unit of very poor players up the middle before he got there, there was a long way to go up.

      The reason he is leading all DTs in Pro-Bowl voting is because he has sacks, and the fan vote is a farce. He is most certainly not the best DT in the league, or even close to it right now. He is a very talented, very inconsistent, player who struggles to deal with specific blocking techniques at this level.

      • visible

        Well I guess we can disagree. Not only does he lead DT’s in sacks, he does it against double teams. He is also responsible for a safety as he was held in the end zone. In addition to the safety, he has an interception and a fumble return for a TD. The guys is a disruptive force every single game and it’s not just with sacks. Name me one single DT in the league who has done what he has this year.

        • Sam Monson

          You say he does it against double teams, like he’s the only defensive tackle that faces them. In a 4-3 one of the DTs is going to be doubled on pretty much every play. It’s not unique to Suh that he’ll see double teams

          Buffalo’s Kyle Williams has 4 fewer sacks, but has actually accounted for exactly the same number of knock downs as Suh, and more total pressure, and he is doing that whilst being the ONLY viable defender on that Buffalo team. Whatever you think of Suh’s impact on those around him, players like KVB, Williams and Avril impact on him too.

          • OwenXVI

            So you’ve named one of only the two interior D-lineman with more tackles than Suh, and yet combined – they don’t have as many sacks as Suh. No, Suh isn’t the “greatest” lineman in the league just yet, but he’s well on his way and doing pretty well for a rookie – and MUCH better than your site would ever give him credit for …

  • Sam Monson

    Drops are a big factor – he leads the league for TE drops with 9 on the season, 2 more than any other TE. He is second in the league for TEs in terms of penalties conceded, and his run blocking has been poor. The 70.6% of targets he has caught is not a bad mark by any means, but given his lowish yards/reception figure it’s something you would expect because of the depth of pass he is catching most of the time.

  • CookBB

    Suh is most definitely in the top 3, DT in all of football. Just deal with it. A football player’s physical prime is 20-25, 2-3 of these years are college years. The NFL, more than any other major sports league in America is often dominated by rookies. You almost never see a baseball or hockey player dominate in his first professional season, you can count them on one thumb.

    Basketball, there is more success but nothing compares to the frequent dominance rookies show in the NFL.

    Suh is just overwhelming his competition, they just are not used to such physical specimen. Suh isn’t #1 yet, but he will be by the end of next season.

    To say the Bears have figured anything out is a lie… 1 vs the Bears, I watched Suh take on a double team at the goaline and completely dominate 2 OL by shoving them 6 feet deep into the backfield.

    Just deal with it, the NFL is not that difficult.

    • Sam Monson

      1 snap doesn’t prove anything. We’ve said all along that Suh has massive talent, and the ability to make huge plays at any given time, but if he does that on one play and then gets handled for the next 50, did he have a good game?

      Watch the above game in detail and tell us Suh wasn’t comprehensively handled by simple blocking techniques.