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Chicago Bears Week 12 Review: Matt Barkley Stepped Up

Bears, lead by Matt Barkley, fall to Titans 27-17 reyjr22 via flickr


Chicago Bears Week 12 Review: Matt Barkley Stepped Up

The injury bug hits every team in the NFL, as it does at all levels of football. Despite those injuries, teams simply have to move on and try to win the next game with a replacement at that position.  The Bears have not handled this problem well and as a result have dropped to 2-9 on the year after Sunday’s 27-21 loss to the now 6-6 Titans despite third string QB Matt Barkley’s efforts. Tennessee  has been one of the most improved teams in the entire NFL.

The Bears, Barkley, played a great fourth quarter and showed the will to fight till the very end, which is always a good sign to see in a team.  Two TD passes from Barkley in a span of five minutes brought Chicago back from 27-7 to 27-21, and Barkley had another opportunity with 1:56 left to bring the Bears all the way back and win the game, but yet another good fourth quarter drive was stalled on the Tennessee seven after four straight incompletions.

Barkley struggled before an early scoring drive until the fourth quarter.  He threw two interceptions in that span and finished the game with a 51.9 completion percentage.which was no doubt played a role in the loss.  He did finish with 316 passing yards and three TDs, but he also threw the ball 54 times and ended with only 5.9 yards per attempt.  For comparison, Titans QB Marcus Mariota finished with 9.8 YD/AT while throwing only 23 passes.

However, Chicago’s receivers gave Barkley absolutely no help.  Without Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White, the Bears’ two best receivers, the young playmakers got the chance to prove themselves.  Unfortunately, they badly underperformed.  They finished with 10 drops, the most by any team in one game in 10 years.  On first and goal from the Tennessee 7 to win the game, Josh Bellamy dropped a ball right in his chest.  On fourth down, Deonte Thompson dropped a catch in the end zone. It wasn’t an easy catch, as he was sliding on the ground and there was a defender on him, but it was in his hands and it was to win the game.  In total, Bellamy and Cam Meredith dropped three balls each and Marquess Wilson dropped two as well.

All things considered, Barkley played well, especially in the fourth quarter.  The third stringer stepped up and, according to Pro Football Focus, earned the third highest QB grade for a Bear in a game all year with 82.9.  He was very impressive moving around the pocket and evading pressure and making an accurate throw afterward.  He also had help from his line, which was impressive in creating running lanes for Jordan Howard and in protecting Barkley.  They didn’t allow a single sack, and right tackle Bobby Massie showed great improvement from his last games in not allowing a single pressure.  According to PFF, he finished with a grade of 84.3, the highest on the team.

The defense did not perform well at all.  They severely struggled getting pressure on Mariota.  According to PFF, Mariota was only under pressure seven times out of 25 dropbacks despite the Bears sending 10 blitzes.  Mariota was 0-7 on throws under pressure, but the Bears failed to consistently get him there.  Chicago’s secondary is not built for locking receivers down for more than a couple seconds, and the Bears‘ lack of pressure on  Mariota exposed the secondary.  The injury to ILB Jerrell Freeman is clearly hurting, but this is the game of football and Chicago needs to get creative and find new solutions.

Despite normally being weak spots for the Bears, the OL and the QB were the bright spots for Chicago on Sunday.  QB Matt Barkley and RT Bobby Massie broke out and showed what they can do.  Barkley’s raw numbers don’t look flashy at all, but much of this can be attributed to his receivers.  10 drops cannot be understated, and while these young receivers are athletic, they need to focus or else they will continue to drag down their QB.  Chicago has a very winnable game at home against the 1-10 San Francisco 49ers next Sunday, which seems like a perfect opportunity for everybody to focus, get things right, and get a win.