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3rd preseason game. Emphasis continues to be on (1) roster battles and (2) how well various units played together.
Key roster battles to keep an eye on:
QB (Gabbert vs. Stanton)? RB (Ellington vs. K Williams. C Johnson vs. Penny). WR (Ross, Hogan, Agudosi, C Williams, Golden battle for one/possibily 2 spots). TE (Momah vs. Valles). OL (Battles between Wetzel, Toner, Bergstrom, D Johnson, Boehm & others for backup spots).
Mostly backup battles on defense - DL (Continued improvement from Nkemdiche), ILB Reddick and , Bucannon? CB - Bethel vs. T Williams vs. B Williams.S - Is Budda Baker really that good)? ST (Stability in the kicking, punting and coverage units)?
Fill-ins for the final 5 or 6 roster spots.
"Cards Rally to Lose to Bears 24 - 23)"
The Bottom Line:
Bears outplayed the Cardinals on a play-by--play/helmet-to-helmet basis, but the Cards dialed up enough big plays to be within 2-pts of stealing the game.
Answering some of the questions we had going into last night's contest:
Gabbert (14 for 25 and 174 yds) outplayed Stanton (2 for 6 and 17) mainly because of Stanton's lackluster play. Chris Hubert and Jeremy Ross led the receivers in receptions with 4 apiece. (One word of caution about Huburt - he only weighs144 lbs. on a unit in need of more big, physical receivers). No one stood out among the RB's. I thought the starting OL unit looked lethargic from the git-go. At TE, Gresham made a clutch catch and Momah caught attention with his blocking along with a clutch catch. (Note- Valles didn't help his cause when he took an "away from the ball" penalty)
The defense was especially susceptible to roll-outs and waggles, with a single defender caught between the proberbial rock (do I come up fast and pressure the QB?) or the hard place (do I drop back and cover the open defender)? Chicago HC John Fox exploited this gaping defensive weakness early and often. Card run defenders were also vulerable to stretch-zone cutback plays, either overunning the zone-lane of failing to anchor vs. the sweep. (Granted, the officials were ignoring a bunch of chippy-type holding offenses, but the Cards didn't have an answer for most of the game.). Question remains - Do the coaches have to make adjustments? Or does the problem lie with flaws in technique by individual players?
Source: NFL.com Website
Bears at 15:00
After Cunningham returned the KO 41 yards and Cohen picked up 16 rushing yards on the first play, the Card defense stiffened and Chicago punted from the Cardinal 45. (Nice tackle by Badger for 3-yd loss).
Cards at 12:18
Punt went out of bounds at the Card 4. They couldn't move past their own 35 and punted. Punt (net penalty on Branch) downed at Bear 35.
Bears at 9:22
Cohen gained 28 yards on 3 carries, but drive stalled at the Card 24, and Barth's 42-yd FG attempt was good. Bears 3 - Cards 0.
Cards at 4:57
KW returned KO to the Card 26. Other than a short completion from Palmer to Ja Brown, the drive went nowhere and Leone punted from his own 40. Punt rolled out of bounds at Chi 18.
Bears at 2:53
A 25- yd Cohen run moved the Bears to the Card 33 as the 1Q ended.
- First Quarter Score: Bears 3 - Cards 0.
Chi made it to the Cardinal 11 where T Mathieu intercepted a short pass in the flat and ran it back 49-yards. Fumble ruled "down by contact." Cards ball at the Bear 43.
Cards at 11:48
Palmer led his team to a score in 11 plays (highlights - 11-yd pass to Niklas; 16-yd pass to Ross and a one-yd TD pass to Gresham in the back of the EZ. Cards 7 - Bears 3.
Bears at 6:04
KO net penalty gave Chi the ball at its own 9-yd line. An 18-yd completion to Carey (covered by Reddick and B Williams) was all the Bears could muster before punting from their own 18.
Cards at 3:36
Punt (less hoilding call on Valles) started Cards off at their own 12 -yd line where they were held to 3 & out and punted from their own 10. Punt was returned to the the Cardinal 44.
Bears at 2:35
An 18-yd completion to Meredith (net a roughing the passer flag on Reddick) set up a 7-yard TD pass to Wright. Bears 10 - Cards 7.
Cards at 0:36
TB on the KO. Cards moved to the Bear 45 in 5 plays to "Clown Fest Time" - BA decided to give Phil Dawson a shot at a 63-yd field goal. Attempt was wide right - and returnded 109 yards for a Bear TD to end the half. (Moldy biscuit for BA). Bears17 - Cards 7.
Halfitme Score: Bears 17 - Cards 7
- Cardinals at 15:00
- TB on KO.Gabbert in at QB. Gabbert led Cards offense on a 12-play drive capped by a 4-yard TD scramble. Bears 17 - Cards 14
- Bears at 7:48
- TB on KO. A aborted snap killed the Bear possession. Ross returned punt to Card 18.
- Cardinals at 4:13
- Cards webnt 3 & out and punted from their own 15. Punt returned to Bear 34.
- Bears at 2:04
- A face-mask penalty on Pierre to nullify an 8-yd sack helped move the ball to the Bear 39 to end the quarter.
- Third Quarrter Score: Bears 17 - Cards 14.
- Bears moved to the Card 31, where Aguayo's 49-yd attempt was no good.
Cardinals at 11:18
- Cards took over on their own 39, but couldn't get anything foing. Wile punted 34 yds from the Bear 44 to the Chi 10.
Bears at 9:15
Penaltes on Anau and Waugh helped move the ball to the Chicago 38 where O Donnel's punt was fair caught at the Cardinal 12.
Cardinals at 5:50
Cards moved to their own 33, where Gabbert's pass for Hubert was intercepted and returned for a TD, but the ruling was reversed -
Bears at 4:22
Bears kept the ball but it was down by contact. Five plays later, though (after two consecutive 17-yard gains) Trubisky's pass for Cunningham was caught for a TD. Bears 24 - Cards 14.
Cardinals at 1:20
TB on the KO. A 41 yd. completion to Seal-Jones set up a 52-yd Dawson FG. Bears 24 - Cards 17. Onside kick was recovered by Cards at the Chi 35..
Cardinals at 1:20
Gabbert led his team on a 9-yd TD deive capped by a 3-yd. TD completion to Ross with 0:14 left to play. 2-point conversion attempt was no good when a wide-open Ross evidently failed to turn around in time on a hot-pattern
Bears at 0:09
- Bears recovered onside kick. Shaw took a knee.
Final Score: Bears 24 - Cards 23 - Raiders 10
Notable Game Stats.
Hubert and Ross led Card receivers with 4 grabs apiece. Ross and Gresham each had a TD
Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 19/Pass: 45).
Dawson was 1 for 2 in FG's.
Net punting average: 41.2 Chi punter netted 50.7)
Branch and B Williams led Card tacklers with 5, followed by T Johnson and Wright.
Bazze had the one Card sack.
Card QB's were sacked twice
Third Down Efficiency. Cards were 7 for 15 (46%) Chicago was 4 for 10 in 3rd down efficiency.
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards 3 for3 (100%). Chi 2 for 3 (67%)
Penalties: Cardswere penalized 8 times/Bears 7.a
Time of Possession: Cards 26:59 - Bears .33:01
Card defense gave up an average of 3.3 yds per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 2.1)
Gabbert (though up and down) looked better than Stanton. Palmer looked OK.
Niklas, Gresham and Momah all looked good.
Ross and Hubert are still contenders for a roster spot.
Nkemdiche continued to make himself known.
Nkemdiche had another solid outing.
The Badger looking like the Badger of old.
The Dark Side
Player by Player and Down by Down - Cards were outplayed by Bears
But big plays (& lack of them by Chicago) saved our bacon.
Stanton had an uncharacteristically bad outing.
C Johnson needs to shed rust/add speed
Receivers still dropping too many gimmes.
Both lines (OL and DL) seemed sluggish/made few big plays
Card defense was consistently undressed by Bears on Stretch-Zone running plays and Waggles and Boots by the QB. Our LB's kept overrunning the stretch-zone cutbacks and we continually had one defender having to cover both the QB and receiver on boots and waggles. (It's not clear whether our players were incorrectly executing the right scheme or whether they were doing the best they could to execute a faulty screen). #1 Priority has to be to fix this or other teams will keep punishing us.
Not a pretty outting, but not fatal (yet). We're still in "player evaluation mode" but are fast closing in on "need to execute perfectly mode" (& we're not there yet).