Bears O-line offensive
"We just came on the road, against a good football team on a streak, if you will ... and found a way to win," Coughlin said.
The Bears? A good football team? On a streak?
Thanks to the Giants, the Bears are now 5-7. That’s not the record of a good football team. It’s on the sad side of mediocre.
The Bears have not won two games in a row all season. They’ve alternated wins and losses for eight games over nine weeks now. That’s half a season without anything that hints of a streak.
Coughlin was right about one thing. The Giants found a way to win and, therefore, keep the New York media from going public with their snickers about his own suspect club this week.
Meanwhile, snickers in Chicago have permission to graduate to wholesale laughter at the obscene notion the Bears posed last week: that they were ready to run the table and make the playoffs. They weren’t then. They aren’t now. And they won’t be anytime this month.
The Bears’ loss officially ended their two-year reign atop the NFC North, a meager streak at best even if it did include a trip to the Super Bowl. Mathematics aside, their playoff chances are shot, too. May the erstwhile conference champs rest in peace, while the braintrust figures out how best to reconstruct the offensive line.
If you suspected the group charged with protecting Bears quarterbacks isn’t up to the task, stop suspecting. The Bears linemen Sunday were exposed like Hef’s Girls Next Door.
Rex Grossman actually is playing halfway decently in his second tour of duty at quarterback. But it’s difficult to make much positive happen when your linemen are trying to find their clothes and Giants are storming past them and into your face without so much as a handshake.
"You know how many sacks we have this year?" Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora almost roared.
As of this writing, a league-leading 44.
"That’s just what we do," Umenyiora said. "We rush the quarterback."
And the Bears’ linemen allow that rush almost as well as any O-line in the NFL. They’re not as dangerous as the Detroit Lions, who seem determined to get their quarterbacks killed. But the Bears do rank among the top seven — or worst seven, if you prefer — in sacks yielded, with 38. That includes the six times Giants defenders officially plastered Grossman, but not the countless additional times they planted his buttocks in the grass a split-second after he got rid of the ball.
Poor Rex. After opening the game with a thrilling, no-huddle, nine-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that included 5-of-5 passing for 65 yards, he spent much of the rest of the day wondering from where his next pounding would come.
"We wanted to put pressure on Grossman and make him move his feet," Giants cornerback Sam Madison said.
He moved them, all right. Every which way but forward.
Madison delivered the first sack, early in the second quarter. On third-down-and-11, Grossman dropped back to pass, saw Madison streaking at him and tucked the ball and ran. Backwards, right toward his own goal line. Madison jumped on top of Grossman and rode him down in the end zone for an apparent safety.
Mercifully, the officials ruled Grossman’s forward progress — of which there had been none — was stopped at the 1. The Bears punted, and the resulting field position aided the Giants’ first touchdown.
Grossman did stand in and make some plays. He also took his licks.
Defensive end Michael Strahan sacked him for 11 yards on third-and-goal; that led the Bears to settle for their first field goal. Umenyiora sacked Grossman for 14 yards on third-and-10 at the Giants’ 14; that led the Bears to settle for their second field goal. End Justin Tuck and linebacker Kawika Mitchell sacked him for 9 yards on third down late in the fourth quarter to set up the Giants’ winning TD drive.
"We put a lot of pressure on up front with our big guys, and somebody has to double-team them," Giants cornerback R.W. McQuarters said. "That means somebody else is getting blocked one-on-one or somebody else is free."
Free to commit slaughter.
The Bears right now can’t stop it. But they had better fix it.
KIRK WESSLER is Journal Star executive sports editor/columnist. Write to him at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3216 or e-mail to email@example.com.