The Bears have just 7 takeaways in the past five games, four of which were losses.
They had 28 in the first eight games, seven of which were victories.
Why have the takeaways gone away?
“I just don’t think it’s as simple as why,” coach Lovie Smith said. “It doesn’t work like that. We’re continuing to play hard, but sometimes they don’t come, simple as that. You go through spells where they just don’t happen. Just have to stay in the game and keep playing. Eventually they’ll come.”
The Bears failed to turn their lone takeaway Sunday (Major Wright’s fourth interception of the season) into any points, while the Vikings got 14 points off Jay Cutler’s 2 interceptions. Safety Harrison Smith returned Cutler’s second pick 56 yards for a third-quarter TD, and cornerback Josh Robinson’s 44-yard return of a first-quarter pick gave the Vikings the ball at the Bears’ 5-yard line.
“Each week we talk about the turnover ratio and how it normally determines the outcome of the game,” Smith said. “That was the case. They had a couple big takeaways that led to 14 points. We had 1 where we didn’t get any points. We just can’t have that happen.”
The starter at left guard has already changed three times this season, and the most recent starter, Edwin Williams, was replaced in the second half Sunday by undrafted rookie James Brown.
Still, the line allowed just 2 sacks on 55 dropbacks and the Bears ran for 118 yards on just 18 attempts, a 6.6-yard average.
“You make changes when you feel like you need them,” coach Lovie Smith said. “And, if you’re making a change when you feel like you have a good option, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I thought James Brown went in and did some good things. As long you feel like you’re looking at guys that might give you a little boost, I just think that’s a good thing.”
Chris Spencer started the first two games this season at left guard before he was benched in favor of Chilo Rachal, who was in turn benched after eight inconsistent starts. Spencer got the job back in Week 11 but suffered a knee injury that sidelined him the past two games. He could be back this week, which might necessitate another lineup change on a unit that values continuity more than any other.
“Yeah, you want to keep the same starting group together in all three phases,” Smith admitted. “It never happens that way.”
The Bears outgained the Vikings 438-248, they averaged 6.6 yards per carry (their highest single-game average of the season), and Brandon Marshall caught 10 passes for 160 yards.
But the end result was a total of just 14 points. It wasn’t for lack of big plays.
“We had 10 explosive plays (a reception of 20-plus yards or a run of 10-plus), so I don’t think it’s that,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We had some drops that were big plays where we could have gotten a few more scores. We got beat by one score, so it’s just (a matter of) completing; finishing a couple of those drives.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.