MINNEAPOLIS – During their final week of practice, Bears coach Marc Trestman and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler discussed the desire to finish the 2014 season on a high note.
Playing a Vikings defense that allowed 468 yards to the Bears six weeks ago seemed to be the remedy for the embattled head coach and quarterback, allowing them to close a forgettable season with a win.
Instead, as we’ve seen over and over this season, the Bears couldn’t move the football. In fact, their 9 points in the 13-9 loss marked the lowest total of the season.
“We had some opportunities [in Vikings territory]. We weren’t able to convert,” Trestman said. “We weren’t able to get the ball down the field. We stopped ourselves on too many occasions and we certainly didn’t get the ball in the endzone.”
On Nov. 16, the Bears were 10-of-17 on third down, got 24 first downs, and had five plays go for 27 yards or longer.
On Sunday, the Bears were 4-of-15 on third down, got 12 first downs, gained 264 yards of offense and had zero plays go longer than 22 yards.
“The [Vikings’] defense really showed a lot of different fronts, they showed a lot of different coverages and we just couldn’t get a rhythm it felt like,” Cutler said.
The Bears’ signalcaller, threw for only 172 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, his lowest in a full game since Sept. 13, 2012.
“We knew they would have a really good game plan against us today,” Cutler said. “We knew they would try and take away a lot of the things we did well against them in the first game, and they did that, they limited us.
“After we crossed the 50 or the 40-yard line, that’s when they started to tighten up a little bit. I’ll have to look at the film to see exactly what they did to stop us.”
If Trestman is fired on Monday, the biggest on-field reason will be his inability to run the Bears’ offense, with so much potential, with the same efficiency and production as 2013. He was asked if Sunday’s problems were a microcosm of what happened this season.
“I think that’s fair. When I think about our season, I think about so many times that we have stopped ourselves crossing the 50-yard line, whether it’s through penalties, a turnover, whatever it might be,” he said.
The penalties have crippled the Bears game after game, and it was almost comical on the final drive of the season, when three penalties set the team behind the sticks, leading to the 11th loss of the season.
“We were kind of shooting ourselves in the foot like we have been doing this entire year,” Matt Forte said, “which is something that needs to change if we want to continue to play in this league and win some games.”
Ownership watches closely: Virginia McCaskey, George McCaskey, Phil Emery and others (although, not Ted Phillips) took in the game from a box in plain view of the media. George McCaskey cheered enthusiastically at big plays, like Marc Mariani’s 67-yard kickoff return.
2015 opponents set: By finishing in last place in the NFC North, the Bears will host Washington and travel to play the Buccaneers in 2015, in addition to playing the NFC West and AFC West.