MORRISSEY: Loss a real flag for heavily penalized Bears
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org | @MorrisseyCST November 24, 2013 8:06PM
Updated: November 25, 2013 5:40PM
ST. LOUIS — Ten penalties for 84 yards. Three touchdowns called back, not to mention a 27-yard end-around nullified. A fumble on the very first offensive play. A wild dust-up on the field. And, for good measure, a questionable coaching decision.
Other than that, everything was just super for the Bears on Sunday.
It’s one thing to get beat, it’s another to beat yourself to a pulp, which is what the undisciplined visitors from Chicago did in a 42-21 loss to the Rams. There are puppies with more self-control than the Bears.
The house-training issues are now two weeks old, which counts as a trend. In a victory over the Ravens last week, the Bears were called for 15 penalties, 13 of which were accepted. That does not at all fit the profile of coach Marc Trestman, a soft-spoken, analytical guy who likes things just so.
This was just so bad.
“At the end of the day, to have those kind of penalties hurts you tremendously,’’ Trestman said.
He said his players came into the game “ready to play,’’ but he didn’t mention the sport they were ready to play. Bean bags? That looks a little like flags flying through the air, doesn’t it? And when your running back fumbles on your first offensive play, as Matt Forte did Sunday, it sets a tone.
Right guard Kyle Long got called for unnecessary roughness after trying to kick Rams defensive end William Hayes during a scuffle in the second quarter. It might have been much worse if St. Louis’ Chris Long hadn’t sprinted from the sideline and pulled his brother away from the scrum. As it was, Kyle Long easily could have been kicked out of the game.
“I’m just here to talk football,’’ he said afterward. “You can’t lose your cool, and I lost my cool.’’
It was an unprofessional incident, but at least he could blame it on the heat of the moment. It’s hard to find a reasonable explanation for all the other Bears’ penalties, especially after Trestman had bemoaned the lack of discipline the previous week.
There were penalties for everyone Sunday. What’s your pleasure? Pass interference? We have that. Twelve men on the field? Check. An illegal block? Come on down.
A block above the waist by Earl Bennett wiped out Forte’s seven-yard score in the second quarter. Devin Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, only to turn around and see a yellow hanky on the ground, courtesy of a holding call on Craig Steltz. Not long after, Josh McCown hit Martellus Bennett for a three-yard touchdown pass, but left tackle Jermon Bushrod was called for holding.
“It’s very uncharacteristic of us, starting with myself with the holding call on the touchdown,’’ Bushrod said. “Thank God the offense could regroup and we end up getting seven out of it anyway, but at the end of the day, that’s just not Chicago Bear football.’’
Confused. Disorganized. Call it whatever you want. Chicago Bear football was disorderly without the excuse of being drunk.
The score aside, the Rams weren’t decidedly better than the Bears. Oh, make no mistake: The defense was terrible Sunday, allowing 258 yards on the ground. But if the Bears hadn’t burdened themselves with all those penalties, this could have been a very different game.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. I’m calling a penalty on myself for mentioning what might have been. A team has double-digit penalties for the second week in a row, it doesn’t deserve to win.
Trestman didn’t have the best day either. With his team down 24-14 in the third quarter, he decided to go for it on fourth down from the St. Louis 1. The Rams stopped Michael Bush for a four-yard loss. I’m not sure what’s worse: Going for it or giving the ball to the ineffective Bush.
This was a game with a lot of action but not a lot of good football. McCown was excellent. It’s getting to the point where we’re taking him for granted as he stands in for the injured Jay Cutler. Let’s not.
The 6-5 Bears are still tied for first place in the NFC North, thanks to Detroit’s loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. It doesn’t mean they’re playing well. When you’re down 14-0 less than three minutes into the game and then throw in 10 penalties, you’re not playing well, no matter how Trestman tries to spin it.
The mellow coach doesn’t do tough love. Fine. How about some semi-tough love?