Chicago Bears Week 7 Report Card
Chicago Bears Week 7 Report Card
Last week, I predicted that the Monday night battle between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears would be a one-sided affair favoring Chicago. To some extent, I was correct. The Bears (5-1) did dominate defensively, almost shutting out the Lions (2-4).
Chicago continued to flex their muscles in their pass rush by getting to the quarterback three times. Along with the pressure from the front four, the Bears didn’t let up in the takeaway department, adding four more thefts to their league leading 21 takeaways (one of which came on special teams).
On the offensive side of the ball, Chicago’s running game was affective, racking up 171 yards, but the passing game was a bit sporadic. The Lions’ secondary played a little better than I expected, but most of the success of Detroit’s pass defense was due to their pass rush. Detroit took advantage of the Bears’ shaky offensive line by registering five sacks.
With this victory, the Bears have extended their winning streak to four games, and are in first place in the NFC North. There are four more games that Chicago has to play before they face the Minnesota Vikings, their next divisional opponent.
Overall, the Bears have shown that they are a team to be taken seriously in the NFC, and looks as if they won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Here is a closer look at the performance of each position by Chicago and the grade in which I feel they’ve earned in their most recent victory.
Statistically, Jay Cutler didn’t have a stellar game. The seven-year veteran completed only 16 of his 31 pass attempts for 150 yards and a touchdown. What Cutler lacked in the aerial attack he compensated for in his ability to run, rushing for a total of 34 yards on crucial downs. What did stand out the most in Cutler’s performance was his toughness. The Bears’ quarterback was sacked five times in the contest, and was sidelined for only one play after Lions’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh drove Cutler into the turf bruising his ribs. If anyone still has any doubts about Cutler’s toughness, this game should put those doubts to rest.
Matt Forte helped set the tone early in the game with a 39-yard run, which set up Chicago’s only touchdown of the game. Forte finished the game with 96 yards on 22 carries. Backup running back Michael Bush contributed with 36 yards of his own. The Bears’ running back tandem of Forte and Bush seems to be what Chicago needs to balance out their offense. It looks like Forte is completely over his sprained ankle from earlier in the season, and is on track to being the dual threat he was last season. The Forte-Bush combo can easily be seen as on of the league’s best.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Because of Detroit’s constant pressure on Cutler throughout the game, and the Bears’ balanced offensive attack, Chicago’s receiving corps couldn’t flourish as much as they could have against Detroit’s secondary. However, Brandon Marshall did manage to haul in six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Fellow receivers Devin Hester and Earl Bennett each had three receptions for 38 and 27 yards respectively. Hester did continue to show inconsistencies with his hands by dropping a wide-open pass across the middle. Tight end Kellen Davis only had one catch for three yards, but was primarily used as a blocker all night.
The good news for the offensive line is that they were good in opening holes for Forte and Bush in the running game. The Bears’ 171 total rushing yards helped win the time of possession battle by almost 10 minutes. The not-so-good news is that their quarterback was sacked five times, the second-most sacks they’ve surrendered in a single game this season. The continued help by Chicago’s running backs and tight ends shows that there is still work to be done with the o-line as far as pass protection. A couple of false start penalties on center Roberto Garza didn’t help the Bears’ field position either.
Chicago’s defensive line added three more sacks to their 21 on the year, which are the fifth most in the NFL. Veteran Israel Idonije and Pro Bowler Julius Peppers each had a sack, while second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea and rookie defensive end Shea McClellin shared a sack. The steadily improving defensive tackle Henry Melton forced a fumble during the third quarter when Detroit was on their way to score a touchdown. Lions running back Joique Bell lunged for the end zone from the four-yard line, and before landing, Melton poked the ball out, which was recovered by Brian Urlacher.
So far this season, Chicago’s defense has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, and this is thanks in part to the Bears’ linebacking corps. The Lions’ leading rusher, Mikel Leshoure, was held to just 63 yards on the ground. The only downside to that was he averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Linebacker Lance Briggs added a forced fumble to his 2012 season stats, while Urlacher led all of the Bears linebackers with six tackles and had the crucial fumble recovery on the goal line in the third quarter. Chicago’s linebackers definitely took advantage of the high-leveled play of the front four, which made their job that much easier.
For the third straight week, cornerback Charles Tillman was the standout in the Bears secondary. Tillman not only forced two fumbles, but he also shut down arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford targeted Johnson numerous times, but ended the night with only three catches for 34 yards. Tillman’s biggest play came in the third quarter on a first-and-goal when Stafford threw a fade to Johnson in the corner of the end zone. Johnson had the ball in his hand, but Tillman knocked it out just in time. The following play, Bell fumbled on the goal line, which was recovered by Chicago. The Bears’ reserve cornerback D.J. Moore snagged Chicago’s 14th interception of the year, which leads the NFL.
The one smart thing Detroit did all night was keep the ball away from Devin Hester. Chicago’s return specialist only had one punt return for five yards. In an attempt to get some punts booted their way, the Bears inserted Earl Bennett and Eric Weems in place of Hester, only to have nothing transpire. Kicker Robbie Gould had a field goal attempt blocked, giving him his first miss of the season, but connect on his two other attempts. Punter Adam Podlesh punted the ball eight times, the most he’s punted in a game all season, with a long of 53 yards and landing two of them inside the 20-yard line. One good thing did come for the special teams when Zack Bowman recovered a botched punt by Detroit’s Stefan Logan.
Head coach Lovie Smith once again orchestrated a game-winning strategy for the Bears. The play calling on offense was just as balanced as it has been all season, and offensive coordinator Mike Tice keeps finding ways to get the ball into the hands of their best playmakers. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, a defensive line guru, continues to get the best out of the Bears’ front four on a consistent basis. The biggest contribution from the coaching staff was devising a plan to eliminate one of the league’s most dangerous offensive threats in Calvin Johnson. The Lions have had difficulty all season in finding ways to get Johnson the ball in the end zone, and still haven’t found success. Smith and his coaching staff did their homework in seeing how other teams did the same prior to this game.
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