The Monday following their sixth straight loss, Bearsplayers were hardly in a talking mood.
The few that were at Halas Hall to explain whyeverything could go so wrong in the second half of a the 19-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eaglesrepeated familiar explanations.
"It's the little things," cornerback Jerry Azumahsaid.
Little things would be?
"Well, we've got to make plays," Azumah said.
The Bears did make plays in the first half. Theoffense put together a couple of nice scoring drivesbehind running back Anthony Thomas. The defense heldthe Eagles and quarterback Donovan McNabb to seven points.
"Well, the game yesterday was clearly a story of twohalves," coach Dick Jauron said. "In the first half wegot done what we pretty much wanted to getdone. In the second half, of course, we did not.
"It was a frustrating day."
A day made all the more frustrating by 12 penalties,nine on the defense and many in crucial spots. Forexample, third down.
In the first half, Phillip Daniels sacked McNabb onthird and 6 but was called for a face mask that gavethe Eagles a first down. On the Eagles' nextpossession, Reggie Austin's defensive holding penaltyon third down virtually erased Byran Robinson's sackand again kept a Philadelphia drive going.
On the Eagles' lone touchdown drive in the secondquarter, the Bears were called for three penalties,including the first of two passinterference infractions on R.W. McQuarters. That one put the Eagles on the 5, setting up McNabb's touchdown run. The second, in the fourth quarter, set Jauron off and he got in the face of the side judge.
Jauron refused Monday to comment on the officials.
"I have a channel that I have to follow," Jauron said."I send the information to the league and they sendthe information back and none of that is public. Asalways there are calls I'll never agree with. Thathappens in every game."
Players, knowing they would draw a hefty fine from theleague for complaining about the officials, backed offas well.
"That's part of our business," defensive end KeithTraylor said. "Sometimes you're going to have those.Unfortunately yesterday we had quite a few."
Shoop bashing: He's been a sports radiopunching bag for as long as he's been running theoffense. And now it appears some players have taken afew shots.
A local television station reported that a fewdefensive players during Sunday's game yelled atoffensive coordinator John Shoop, who has beenroutinely criticized for his conservative offense. Asimilar incident happened last season and Jauron'sreaction was the same.
Jauron was more upset with the media representativeson the sideline than any possible dissent inside theteam.
"They're all very competitive people and what happenson the sideline happens between a very close group ofpeople," Jauron said. "The way those things get out isunfortunately part of our game that there are so manypeople down there listening. There's lots of thingssaid on that sideline in the course of a game that youwouldn't want people to hear. And they're not allcomplaints. A lot of them aren't complaints at all butyou wouldn't want them out in the public."
Receiver Marcus Robinson, one who's responsible forexecuting Shoop's plays, downplayed the incident. Hesaid it happens a lot between receivers and receiverscoach Todd Haley.
"That's what happens on the sideline," Robinson said."That's what happens with all teams. People getfrustrated, they yell. The next play you just move on.Five minutes later you'll probably see [ the upsetplayer] talking to that same guy. Me and Bookercan be busting about a play with Todd and we can justget heated and then the next play we come back andsay, 'Alright, Todd, I see this, too.' That's justpart of the game."
Jauron, who was unaware that anything had evenhappened, did not address the incident with theplayers on Monday.
Defending Shoop: So what about Shoop and hisplay-calling? Asked about it, Marcus Robinson had thisto say:
"I don't call the plays. As an offense you've got toaccept the plays that he calls. That's the bottomline. No matter what you say or what you do it's stillup to the offensive coordinator. And once you go talkto him on the sideline and he calls the plays he feelsthat are going to make us move the ball down thefield, we've got to execute as an offense.
"The bottom line is that I can only run what's called.You can get frustrated, fuss and yell, it's not goingto change anything. What's it going to change? Thatyou disrespected the coach? That's something that youdon't do. You've just got to do what's called. Youcome back to the sideline, you sit down and you say,'Coach, I saw this on the field and they're doing thisand they should've changed to this.' And you justleave it at that.
"It's up to him to make that decisionto change or see what he sees differently and go fromthere. I'm quite sure coach Shoop has a lot of thingsto take into consideration: the running game, theoffensive line blocking, 'Do I have this receiver whocan get open in this route?' There's a lot of stuffthat goes on his head.
"As a receiver I want the ballevery time. But sometimes you're not able to get it.When you do get a chance to make a play, that's whatyou've got to do."
Robinson was critical of himself for dropping a60-yard pass from fellow receiver Marty Booker. Bookerthrew the ball nearly 60 yards and Robinson jumpedbetween two defenders, got both hands on the ball butdropped it.
"I've just got to make that play," Robinson said.
"That was a punt, though," he said referring to thelength of the pass.
Miller update: Asked how Jim Miller wasfollowing Sunday's game, Jauron replied,"Very sore."
Miller had missed two weeks because of lingeringtendinitis in his throwing shoulder and elbow. AndJauron admitted the injury may have contributed toMiller's lack of accuracy down the stretch against theEagles.
Miller, who completed 19 of 36 passes, missed a numberof plays on the final drive with the Bears trailing bya touchdown. He overthrew a wide-open Booker, nearlythrew an interception trying to force one to tight endJohn Davis and then threw a final desperation pass toRobinson out of bounds.
"I know that Jim would not want to use it as an excuseand we dont want to use it as an excuse but I thinkthe fact of the matter is that his arm is sore,"Jauron said. "I think it does have some affect onthrows in the course of the game and it could havesome affect there."
Miller will be evaluated Wednesday but Jauron expectshim to be ready for next week's game against thedefending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times