The Bear Truth: Saints Came Marching In
A tough week for the Bears against a tough opponent...
The Good: The Bears were very much the equal of the Saints for first 35 minutes of game time. And then Cutler got blindsided (thanks Kellen Davis), fumbled and then like a boxer with a cut over his eye, the Bears methodically got pummeled into submission by the Saints the rest of the game. But they were within a score at halftime, the Bears defense got a three and out, the offense got it within a field goal, got another three and out by the defense before the aforementioned fumble and second half ass-whooping.
Matt Forte played like a man on a mission (for a new contract), busting tackles and (sadly) showing that he's the best receiver on the team. And even though he accounted for 90.5% (rough estimate) of all the good things the Bears did on offense, it didn't feel like they called his number quite enough, what with just 10 rushing attempts while Cutler was running for his football life on just about every passing attempt.
The Bad: The Bears defensive philosophy is to make teams try and drive down a long field, counting on forcing a mistake or keeping them to field goals. That means no 79-yard throws over the safety for scores. To the Saints credit, that was a perfect throw in stride by Brees to Henderson, a ball that Cutler either overthrows or Hester drops. It wasn't make or break, but certainly turned the momentum for the Saints at that point of the game. Still they gave up 30 points on the day and that's without the Saints even trying in the fourth quarter, although one TD was on a short field after the Cutler fumble. Not a terrible perfomance, but they've certainly done better versus this very same team and same offense.
As for Cutler, let's just get the excuses out of the way. The wide receivers and offensive line are still as horrible as ever. The receivers do a poor job of getting separation (Aikman commented on it a few times if you don't want to believe me) and then drop passes right in their goddamn hands for first downs. The offensive line acts like stopping a blitz is something you consider doing only if you're in the mood.
That being said, Cutler made poor decisions and flat out poor throws throughout a lot of the game, sometimes under pressure, sometimes not. It certainly wasn't his best effort as a Bear.
The Ugly: It might not have been so close if not for two rather generous calls in the first half. The Saints got nailed for a roughing the passer that kept the Bears first TD drive alive. A play where the defender was flagged for driving Cutler to the ground, but it appeared to be as clean a hit as you could have made. The following drive, the Bears clearly nailed the Saints receiver after he stepped out and the Bears didn't get flagged. Gabe Carimi could be out for a month with a dislocated knee. Two games in and Mike Martz is back to his 90/10 passing to run split(also a rough estimate) that Lovie had to slap him out of last year.
Big division game versus the Packers next week, where Cutler will undoubtedly be running for his life against the backdrop of about 35 stories of the NFC championship game last year and his lack of "courage" or whatever inappropriate terminology Fox will use.
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).