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Bears’ pre-snap penalties raise red flag

Updated: December 20, 2013 6:28AM



Did we jinx the Bears?

After reporters last week asked about the team’s success in avoiding false starts and pre-snap penalties this season, the Bears were a mess in their 23-20 overtime ­victory Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

They committed seven pre-snap penalties: two false starts (both by Martellus Bennett), two defensive offsides (Landon Cohen and an unidentified player), two neutral-zone infractions (Corey Wootton and
Julius Peppers) and an offside penalty on the overtime kickoff
(Michael Ford). In all, the Bears committed 13 penalties for 111 yards after coming into the game with 40 penalties in nine games.

‘‘As soon as you bring it up — ‘You know, you’re really good in pre-snap penalties’ — then all of a sudden it turns into a game of offsides,’’ coach Marc Trestman lamented good-naturedly Monday. ‘‘The pre-snap penalties are just the worst thing you can do because you can control those. The officials don’t control those; we control them. So that was extremely dis-
appointing.’’

Some Bears thought they were goaded into penalties by Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda. Trestman said the Bears planned to contact the league office about that bit of gamesmanship.

‘‘There was some of that,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘I was talking to some of the officials about it. There was some extra movement that could have possibly gone on. [And] there were times . . . I watched [Yanda] closely, [and] I didn’t see it. We’ll turn it in, and the league will make the decision. But it certainly may have affected us.’’

Other than that, Trestman put the onus on the Bears to correct those errors, not to mention a discombobulated start by the
offense. With miscommunications and a bad shotgun snap, the Bears gained no yards on four of their first five plays.

Trestman called the defensive offside and neutral-zone penalties ‘‘brutal, just brutal. Pre-snap ­penalty on third down put them in a third-and-one. . . . Can’t happen. That’s something we have not done until this game. We’ve been a very disciplined team in that regard.’’

As it turned out, the pre-snap penalties did minimal damage. Two of the four defensive offside/neutral-zone penalties were paired with another defensive infraction on the same play and were
declined, and the Bears forced a punt and a turnover on downs on the other two drives with such
penalties. The Bears also recovered from Bennett’s second false start to get a first down and capped that drive with Josh McCown’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Matt Forte.

Trestman said he hoped the penalty-laden performance was an ‘‘aberration,’’ but he won’t assume that, either.

‘‘They’re going to be addressed,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘When you have pre-snap penalties, it’s really focus
and being distracted in some way. So every man has to ask themselves a question: ‘Why did this happen to me at this time? Why would I be offsides on a kickoff? Why would I jump the snap count?’

‘‘Some of it’s focus. Maybe there’s a miscommunication. . . . I have to believe we’ll get back to doing a better job. We’ll be in the noise for the next two weeks [at
St. Louis and Minnesota]. It’s going to be a difficult environment. We’ll have to be very, very sharp.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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