WBEZ | MNF http://www.wbez.org/tags/mnf Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bad news Bears lose big http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bad-news-bears-lose-big-103930 <p><p>Which was worse for the Bears, the offense or the defense? It was probably a draw, since both sides of the ball were so inept in this embarrassing 32-7 loss against the 49ers. With back-to-back losses, the Bears drop to 7-3 for the season. Now they have to figure out how to repair the damage.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1jason_campbell_sf.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Bears QB Jason Campbell had a miserable night versus SF. (AP Photo/Mario Jose Sanchez)" /><strong>Bears&rsquo; offense in shambles</strong></p><p>Bears offense was rather non-existent. They did absolutely nothing well: They couldn&#39;t run, they couldn&#39;t pass and back-up quarterback Jason Campbell was under fire the whole game, man-handled by an outstanding defense. San Francisco&#39;s Aldon Smith had a career night, adding 5 1/2 to his league-leading sack total of 15 &mdash; the most sacks by a single player in Monday Night Football history. It seems the stage is always set for the Bears to be on the receiving end of stellar performances like Smith&rsquo;s.</p><p>Matt Forte was held to just 63 yards, as a team the Bears only mustered 85 total rushing yards. Jason Campbell&rsquo;s final passing numbers were 14 of 22 for 107 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown to Brandon Marshall. Week in and week out, the Bears&#39; offensive line has been inconsistent and self-destructive. But Jay Cutler&#39;s ability to make adjustments seemed to gloss over their warts. Without Cutler, problems were magnified, especially on national television. I can&rsquo;t imagine the conversation Jason Campbell will have with Jay when he talks to him about this debacle. The way Campbell was battered on the field, newly signed quarterback Josh McCown was probably glad he didn&rsquo;t have to enter the game.</p><p>Offensive coordinator Mike Tice will get plenty of scrutiny for the game plan this week and the play of the Bears&#39; offensive line.</p><p><strong>Defense shredded by an unknown</strong></p><p>Conventional thinking had most people believing the Bears&#39; defense would have a distinct advantage over second year QB Colin Kaepernick making his first start at quarterback. How wrong was that? This game ended with the young signal-caller looking brilliant from his first pass and continued as he superbly executed a complex offense. Kaepernick was 16 of 23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He spread the ball around to Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore.</p><p>There was minimal pressure by the Bears&#39; defensive line most of the game. Kaepernick eluded several opportunities to get sacked. With over a hundred yards on the ground and an efficient passing game, San Francisco wound up with 355 total yards. Kaepernick never looked flustered against a Bears defense that thrives on chaos and intimidating opponents. Instead, Lovie Smith&rsquo;s team looked out of sync and meek.</p><p><strong>Putting this loss in the perspective</strong></p><p>Note to Bears: Get to the West Coast earlier then one day before&nbsp;a Monday Night Game.</p><p>The Bears defense prides itself on its ability to create turnovers and they couldn&rsquo;t muster any against San Francisco. It&rsquo;s a problem this season when the Bears have relied on the defense to score, when they don&rsquo;t, it magnifies the weakness of this team&rsquo;s offense.</p><p>It is not a time to panic, but it is a time to be concerned. It&#39;s not surprising the Bears lost to Houston, and now San Francisco. However, the manner in which the Bears were defeated is a big issue. There are only six games left and the bulk of those games are in the division. Plenty of weaknesses have been exposed.</p><p>This loss now puts the Bears in an undesirable spot: sharing first place with Green Bay in the NFC North. Next week, the Bears will have to regroup and meet Minnesota at Soldier Field.</p><p>The big question now is whether Jay Cutler will be able to return to guide this Bear team. But the bigger question: Is the offensive line ever going to protect the quarterback?<br /><br /><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://&lt;https://twitter.com/Crayestout&gt;">@CRayeStout </a>&nbsp;and on Facebook at&nbsp;<a href="http://&lt;http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame?fref=ts&gt;">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame.&nbsp;</a></em></p></p> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 08:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bad-news-bears-lose-big-103930 A clash of the NFC Titans: Bears at San Francisco http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/clash-nfc-titans-bears-san-francisco-103880 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bears_d_vs_hou.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 620px;" title="It will be a battle of defense between the Bears and Niners. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></div><p>If you like defense, you&#39;ll love the game between the 7-2 Bears and the 6-2-1 Niners tonight in San Francisco &mdash; they strut their stuff on Monday Night&nbsp;Football. But if you love&nbsp;seeing points on the board, odds are&nbsp;you&nbsp;may be disappointed.&nbsp;These teams are stingy in that catergory.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What&#39;s at stake?</strong></p><p>While all the news has been swirling around the health of both teams starting quarterbacks all week, the game is now the focal point no matter who is under center.&nbsp;Like the Bears&#39; Jay Cutler, San Fran quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion last week. The Bears said Friday that Cutler would sit out Monday night&#39;s game.&nbsp;Smith initially got the OK to return to the practice; however, reports Monday indicate he will not be starting tonight. Back-up Colin Kaepernick will get the start; he has been used this season in the &ldquo;wild cat&rdquo; offense.</p><p>This is a key NFC match up and&nbsp;the winner can crow that they are the best in the conference. Last year, San Francisco was a game away from the Super Bowl, and well, we know what happened with the Bears missing the playoffs. . . . These two defenses are both at the top of their respective games and expectations are high.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s up with the Bears defense?</strong></p><p>The toughest test of this game for Brian Urlacher and the Bears&#39; defense is stopping the number one rushing offense in the NFL. The big threat&nbsp;is running back Frank Gore, who is &quot;very under-rated,&quot; according to Urlacher. &quot;He does a lot of their dirty work,&quot; Urlacher said. &quot;You try to wrap him up, but he is going to make some plays.&quot;&nbsp; Gore and his teammate Kendall&nbsp;Hunter both average over five yards a carry, running behind a big, athletic offensive line.&nbsp;</p><p>The Bears defense has feasted on every team they&#39;ve played, forcing turnovers; this may be key to help their offense, especially if scoring is difficult. One week it&#39;s Tim Jennings grabbing interceptions, another it&#39;s Major Wright or D.J. Moore. But the one player in every Bears opponent&rsquo;s head is Charles Tillman. His ability to punch the ball out of a running back or receivers hands has to be so intimidating at this point. Tillman will also have a tough match-up, with San Francisco&rsquo;s Michael Crabtree &mdash;&nbsp;he is their go-to receiver. Tight end Vernon Davis is not having the season he had in 2011, but he&#39;s still a vital player for San Francisco Coach (and former Bears QB)&nbsp;Jim Harbaugh&rsquo;s offense.</p><p><strong>How about the Bears &ldquo;O&rdquo;&nbsp;</strong><strong>&mdash;&nbsp;</strong><strong>or will it be uh-O?</strong></p><p>With the quarterback situation now in the hands of back-up Jason Campbell, look for improvement from last week&rsquo;s emergency play. The former Oakland/Washington starter had a week to work with the first unit and a week to get ready for a very formidable defense. Last year&nbsp;the Bears stumbled with back up Caleb Hanie; now they have a quality player. Campbell will be scrutinized as&nbsp;Jay Cutler has been all season.</p><p>Last week the Bears offensive line did not give up a sack; this week they will have to contain Aldon Smith with his nine-and-a-half sacks. Running the football with Matt Forte and Michael Bush will be a major endeavor for the offense. They will be going into the strength of the Niners defense &mdash; linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. This tandem is held in the same high regard as the Bears linebackers Urlacher and Briggs.</p><p>If the Bears want to have success they still need to get the ball into the hands of Brandon Marshall; he is a big play receiver and it will only help stretch the field.</p><p><strong>Hot seat!</strong></p><p>Two people are on the hot seat.</p><p>First, punter Adam Podlesh: He has struggled this season and is near the bottom in the league. He had to be looking over his shoulder since the Bears tried out a couple of punters this week.&nbsp;Second, offensive coordinator Mike Tice: He has to make sure his game plan will be executed, particularly in the red zone. &nbsp;</p><p>Conference wins may be an important factor, in case, the Bears need to win a tie-breaker to determine a playoff spot. The Bears will not care about leaving their heart on the Bay; they want to leave physically intact &mdash; and with a win.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://&lt;http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame?fref=ts&gt;">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/clash-nfc-titans-bears-san-francisco-103880 Bears defense dominates in win over Detroit http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/bears-defense-dominates-win-over-detroit-103330 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_1rsz_henry_melton_forces_a_detroit_fumble_in_the_3rd_quarter.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You could debate that Monday night&#39;s Bears 13-7 win over Detroit wasn&#39;t pretty, but you can&#39;t debate the toughness of the team&#39;s QB Jay Cutler.</p><p>The Bears quarterback turned the team&#39;s first possession into a 7 yard touchdown reception to Brandon Marshall.&nbsp; With just over five minutes left in the first half, Detroit&#39;s 307-pound Ndamukong Suh man-handled Jay Cutler into the turf. Cutler laid there for a moment and had to come out of the game for one play. Before the half, the Bears quarterback did leave to have his ribs examined and take X-rays, he returned to play in the second half. During the post-game press conference, both Cutler and Lovie Smith had no issue with Suh over the manner of his play. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s football, no one is trying to hurt anyone out there,&rdquo; said Smith. Cutler expects his ribs will become sorer in the ensuing days. He will get additional treatment during the week.</p><p>&nbsp;The Bears defense had big moments, as they have had all season. Forcing two Lions&rsquo; fumbles and an interception in the &quot;red zone&quot; were keys to the Bears domination of their divisional opponent.</p><p>One of the biggest defensive plays of the game occurred late in the third quarter on the Bears one yard line; Henry Melton forced a crucial Detroit turnover. The Bears defensive tackle knocked the ball from the Lion&#39;s running back Joique Bell&#39;s hands and into Brian Urlacher&rsquo;s hands thwarting Detroit&rsquo;s scoring opportunity.</p><p>Charles Tillman was like a glove on the Lions&rsquo; biggest weapon Calvin Johnson; he was held to just three catches for 31 yards and NO touchdowns. Coach Smith said that Tillman &ldquo;had tough duty&rdquo; covering one of the best receivers in the league. This season, it seems as though, Tillman has meet every challenge that he has faced across the line of scrimmage.</p><p>On the other hand, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall had 6 catches for 81 yards and the lone TD. The Bears amassed over 170 rushing yards, 96 by Matt Forte and Jay Cutler used his feet to gain 34 yards.</p><p>Talk about seizing a great opportunity, Zack Bowman was unemployed and was brought back to the team last week. He forced Detroit&#39;s punt returner Stefan Logan to muff a punt and the Bears turned the miscue into a 21 yard Robbie Gould field goal.</p><p>The talk in the locker room by most of the Bear players was about their QB and the team&rsquo;s opportunistic play on defense. Players on both sides of the ball were heaping praise on Jay Cutler and how tough he is and how this team expected him to be available despite the rib injury after the Suh sack.</p><p>And the defense spoke with strong determination that the teachings of their head coach- to attack the ball, as well as they do, is reaping huge rewards in turnovers. &ldquo;We are just punching the ball,&rdquo; says Henry Melton, &ldquo;We work so hard in practice and we believe it will happen in the game.&rdquo; &nbsp;The only disappointment the players had on defense was the last minute 12 yard touchdown by Detroit&rsquo;s Matthew Stafford to Ryan Broyles. &nbsp;</p><p>This win gives the Bears a three game advantage over the Lions in the division since Detroit is now 2-4 overall this season.</p><p>It is a short work week; the Bears will begin preparations for the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday. They will meet next Sunday at Soldier Field.&nbsp;</p><p>Right now, the Bears are on top of the NFC North and one of the best teams in the NFL&hellip;of course, some may debate they are among the elite. There is no doubt in my mind.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CRayeStout and on Facebook, Cheryl Raye-Stout #atthegame</em></p></p> Tue, 23 Oct 2012 02:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/bears-defense-dominates-win-over-detroit-103330 Bears vs. Lions on Monday Night Football make a great clash http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/bears-vs-lions-monday-night-football-make-great-clash-103265 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1brandon_marshall_phelan_m_ebenhack_0.jpg" style="height: 428px; width: 620px; " title="Brandon Marshall loves the spotlight of MNF. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)" /></div><p>You get the feeling that tonight&#39;s Lions/Bears meeting at Soldier Field could be a throwback to the good ol&#39; days of the &quot;Black and Blue&quot; division games played decades ago. All week long the phrase &quot;playing through the whistle-and beyond&quot; was how Detroit was being characterized around the Bears in Lake Forest.</p><p>While the Bears (4-1) were enjoying a bye-week, the Lions (2-3) came back in the 4th quarter to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-23; they won despite racking up 16 penalties (playing through the whistle and beyond). That was a huge win for the Lions; much has been expected from them this year. They were a big story last season making the playoffs after being the NFL doormat for a long time. Of course, the Bears would love to beat them to maintain a good distance with their lead in the NFC North&rsquo;s division. The only blemish on the Bears season was the loss to Green Bay &mdash;&nbsp;a loss to the Lions wouldn&rsquo;t be devastating, but could complicate playoff scenarios. The Bears will not play any divisional opponents until they meet Minnesota in late November.</p><p>There are some interesting storylines to watch Monday night:</p><ul><li><strong>Two very different head coaches</strong> Some say the team of wacky, energetic Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz&nbsp;is undisciplined; others say his players feed off him. Conversely, Lovie Smith has a calm and steadfast demeanor on the Bears sideline. His players respond well to his approach. One stat worth bringing up for Smith: He has a 8-2 record on Monday Night Football (no home losses). &nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Both have young, aggressive quarterbacks</strong>,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Matthew Stafford for Detroit and Jay Cutler for the Bears, who are complemented by huge wide receivers, Detroit&#39;s Calvin Johnson and Chicago&#39;s Brandon Marshall, &nbsp;who they each love to target. The Lions drafted their duo, while the Bears traded for their tandem. Marshall admitted he enjoys basking in the Monday Night Football spotlight. &ldquo;I love some of the attention; when you have that spotlight on you have to show up and perform,&rdquo; said Marshall.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>The Bears offensive line hopes to control the line of scrimmage</strong> against the likes of Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Lions defensive line. The Bears want to get their ground game going with Matt Forte and Michael Bush.<br />&nbsp;</li><li>The real fun will be <strong>the Bears third-rated defense against the second best offense in the league</strong>. This is where the Bears hope they can keep Johnson from making the big plays against their secondary. Charles Tillman has already returned two interceptions for touchdowns this year. Tillman against Johnson will be one of the best matchups of the game. The Lions rushing game is below average.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>The wild card in this game may be Devin Hester</strong>. He may have a bigger role in the offense since Alshon Jeffrey is out with his hand injury. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice lamented after practice that he wants to get him more involved. Where Hester may make an impact is on special teams &mdash; a weakness for the Lions.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Some players are expected to return to action</strong>: wide receiver Earl Bennett and tight end/half back Evan Rodriquez.<br />&nbsp;</li><li>Last year Bears cornerback D J Moore and Lions QB Matthew Stafford got into a scrum after the Lion QB&rsquo;s interception. Moore was ejected from that game, <strong>he says there are no grudges. . . but we&rsquo;ll see</strong>.<br />&nbsp;</li><li>You should keep track how often the MNF&nbsp;broadcast focuses on&nbsp;Jay Cutler&nbsp;and his &quot;issues.&quot;&nbsp;</li></ul><p>This is the first time the Bears have hosted the Lions on Monday Night Football. All previous meetings were in Detroit. Spotlight, chippy play, two teams that hate each other. . . get the popcorn! This will be quite the show.</p></p> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/bears-vs-lions-monday-night-football-make-great-clash-103265