Chicago Bears: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 6
The Chicago Bears find themselves in the midst of a two-game losing streak. The offense has struggled to start the game, and the defense has struggled late. Still, after five games the team is in a good position to win the division.
On a short week, the Bears need to get back on track. Lucky for them, they will welcome the winless New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.
Going into the game, there are some key points about this football team. Continue on as we give you what you need to know about the Bears heading into Thursday night.
Injuries Continue to Pile Up at Defensive Tackle
The Bears are down another starting defensive tackle. Nate Collins exited the game against New Orleans in the third quarter with a knee injury. Head coach Marc Trestman confirmed Monday, via Larry Mayer of the team's website, that Collins will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton tore his ACL two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers and is also out for the year. Stephen Paea missed the game against the New Orleans Saints with a turf toe.
Landon Cohen and Zach Minter are currently the only defensive tackles on the roster. Defensive end Corey Wootton lined up inside against the Saints due to the lack of depth.
Minter is an undrafted free agent from Montana State. He should make his NFL debut against the Giants. He was active against the Saints but did not play.
Marshall Is Frustrated but Still Focused
On ESPN 1000's The Jay Cutler Show, Cutler said he spoke with Brandon Marshall after the Saints game. Marshall was frustrated with the loss and his lack of production but Cutler said "Marshall is in a great place."
It is important for the Bears to continue to keep Marshall focused even when he is receiving extra attention from defenses. He must continue to work hard and command the attention to allow players like Alshon Jeffery to pick up the slack.
Marshall has an outstanding relationship with Cutler, and all he wants to do is win. You have to believe he doesn't care how many targets he gets as long as the team is winning. If not, then expect Marshall voice his frustration even more.
Alshon Jeffery Is Turning into a Star
Over the past two weeks, Jeffery has exploded on the scene with 15 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns. He's shown he can not only make the tough catch in traffic and make a big play downfield.
Jeffery is showing the Bears and the NFL he will be a future No. 1 receiver. His combination of size and speed makes him a matchup nightmare for teams. He is growing with each week, and Jay Cutler has a ton of confidence in him.
The Bears will need Jeffery more and more. As teams pay more attention to Brandon Marshall, Jeffery will be relied upon in key moments. His ability to perform will not only free up Marshall again but other players like Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte and Earl Bennett.
The Bears Are Not an Elite Team
When you have an offense that starts slow, have a defense that can't get pressure on the quarterback or get off the field on third down, you don't have an elite team.
Clock management, special teams errors and a two-game losing streak are all miscues proving the Bears still have more work to do before they are the cream of the crop in the NFC.
The good news is there is still time to right the ship. Their next two opponents have a combined one win before they have a bye week. This is the perfect time to fix some mistakes going into the bye before they have a Monday night matchup in Green Bay.
To the team's defense, Trestman is only five games into his NFL head coaching career. It takes time to install a new offense, and the defense has been riddled with injuries.
You don't have to be an elite team in Week 6, but you better be come Week 17 if you want to compete in the playoffs.
No Time to Panic
Nobody is running away with the NFC North crown anytime soon. The Packers and Lions both have two losses apiece and have looked vulnerable this season. The Bears still remain in a good position five games into the year.
Both the Packers and Lions will visit AFC North teams over the next two weeks. The Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are all playing better football and find themselves in a dog fight for a division crown as well.
The Bears get the Giants and Washington Redskins during the same stretch. The NFC East is currently the worst division in the NFL. The Giants and Redskins have a combined point differential of minus-121 points to go along with their combined 1-8 record.
It's not likely the Lions and Packers will each drop two games, but both teams going 1-1 is very possible. If the Bears handle business and beat two bad football teams, they will find themselves once again alone atop the NFC North.