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SportsMonday: The Play Action's The Thing

It wasn't that bad.

I was tempted, in honor of the recently departed Cardinals and Cardinal coach Dennis Green, to go with a different lead, one that seemed apropos at least immediately following the game: The Bears are who we thought they were.

But this loss was a far piece from of a harbinger of doom - A far, far, piece. The final score was 23-14 on the road against the favorite to win the AFC South. The Texans have one of the best defenses in the league featuring, perhaps, the best pass rush. And their offense is good enough, especially if rookie wide receiver Will Fuller the Fifth (is that a first in major pro sports?) can continue to achieve the kind of separation he got all day against the Bears.

What killed this fan the most was the conservative play calling in the second half. One continues to suspect that Jay Cutler feels uncomfortable running play-action plays, perhaps because he has a hard enough time working through his receivers without the distraction of first running a fake handoff. But the Bears have to try to work through this. They have to run some play-action to get the offensive going at critical times.

On Sunday they wouldn't do it. A few of those second-half possessions were especially infuriating, what with the standard two not-good-enough runs followed by easily defensed passes that everyone knew were coming.

You had the feeling that after the Bears gave up only a field goal after an interception that gave the Texans the ball at Chicago's 25 to start the second half, thus maintaining a 14-13 lead, the message from John Fox to his offensive coordinator was clear: Play it conservatively and make sure we don't lose this game because of rank sloppiness on your side of the ball. But then of course the offense bogged down.

By the time the Bears got back to trying to win, you know, like they did during that glorious series of plays just before halftime, they were doomed.

Other observations:

* It was unfortunate that Bears rookie wide receiver, Kevin White made a mistake leading to that quick pick in the third quarter. But of course it was worse that the veteran quarterback again insisted on showing him up. Cutler did so despite the fact that it was White's first game as a pro.

* Rookie center Cody Whitehair struggled at times as part of a patched-together offensive line that will have to play better in the future, though we have every has reason to believe that it will. He had plenty of company as just about every other starting lineman took turns screwing things up in the second half.

* The Bears have been haunted for a while by the decision to select Shea McClellin (19th in the first round) instead of Whitney Mercilus (26th) in 2012 and they are feeling it acutely after Mercilus turned both starting Bears tackles into turnstiles in the second half. But a more significant draft haunting looms.

* Did anyone have a chance to check out the Cowboy game on Sunday? There was Dak Prescott moving his team into position for a game-winning field goal before receiver Leonard Williams suffered one of the worst brain cramps I've seen in a while, failing to simply run out of bounds in the final 10 seconds when his team had no timeouts. Had he done so, kicker Dan Baily, who had already nailed four field goals on the day, would have had a crack at a 40-something yarder to win. Instead, Williams was tackled and the clock ran out.

That didn't change the fact that Prescott had played remarkably well in his NFL debut. If he keeps going like this, plenty of teams will have a chance to rue the fact that they passed on him until he was taken late in the fourth round earlier this year.

But will any team feel worse than the Bears? They drafted once, twice, three times in the fourth round and despite having only one quarterback on the roster, one who has taken hundreds of hits, is getting up there in age and yet still refuses to act like an adult at critical times, they did not take Prescott, who had starred as he led Mississippi State up and out of decades of terribleness.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 11, 2021