Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Tuesday Gang Tackle: Why Did The Bears Tebow Themselves?

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The Tuesday Gang Tackle is lamenting Marion Barber's decision-making, among other things today.

If you are a Bears' fan, here is your worst nightmare, on a platter. Even if you watch the above YouTube video and scream nooooooooo!!!! until you pass out, I don't think you'll feel better. If you are Marion Barber, you can just be thankful that you have a very forgiving coach. Here is what Bears head coach Lovie Smith had to say about Barber's double-whammy (running out of bounds in regulation, and fumbling in field-goal range in OT) on sunday:

"Things like that do happen...he was trying to stay in bounds, he should have stayed in bounds...He's a veteran. He's a football player. That's how it goes when you play ball. I mean, there are going to be some days like this when you just have a terrible feeling deep down inside."

On the NFL Network, newly-appointed talking head Dennis Green thought that QB Caleb Hanie and the Bears inexperience played a factor in Barber's bonehead play.

"I think Marion made a mistake, now it could be as simplistic as run an outside play, and unfortunately a player runs out of bounds. I think you have to run inside there. You have to remind each other: You know, 'Hey man, let's stay in bounds -- everybody.' Quarterback reminds them. 'Hey we're gonna use as much time on the clock as we can.' Now part of it? Somewhat of an inexperienced team, maybe the chatter wasn't there."

Clearly the chatter wasn't there, and clearly, Barber's head wasn't there either. Would things have gone differently with Jay Cutler under center? It's not worth it to go there. Should Barber have even been in the game in OT, given his lack of focus late in the fourth quarter? Another tough question. One thing's for certain: It makes Matt Forte, the Bears offensive MVP, who may be lost for the season due to a knee injury, look even more valuable.

There are a few other things that we can take away from this game:

1. Prevent is a bad idea against Tebow: Look, prevent is a bad idea against anybody. End of story. Defensive coordinators need to dial up some courage and ramp up the pressure against Tebow when the game is on the line. Chicago was up 10 points with 4:34 remaining in this game, they've got one of the best defenses in the league, and what do they do? They play a passive milquetoast form of prevent that ultimately turns a laugher into the nailbiter that ensued.

In a one-score game I can see the fear of the big play, but in a two-score game why not stay aggressive and take your chances with what has been working all game? Note to NFL defensive coordinators: NO MORE PREVENT, unless you are winning by more than two touchdowns with less than four minutes left in the game.

2. Tebow didn't win this game, the Bears lost it. Chicago lost focus, didn't protect the ball when it mattered most, and dummed-down their defense when they should have been going for the kill. Shame on them.

3. Tebow didn't win this game, Matt Prater did. X-large props to Matt Prater, the true hero of this game, who kicked two 50-plus yard field goals in pressure situations to win it for the Broncos. He became only the second player in history to tie a game with a 50-plus yard field goal (59 in this case), then win the game in overtime with another one (51). Prater is 12-16 in his career from 50-plus, and Tebow's mystique wouldn't be the same without him.