Looking Back at Week 3, Looking Ahead To Week 4
Sometimes it's better to win ugly than it is to win pretty.
The Bears are 2-1, and that's exactly how they've won their two games. Come to think of it, they really should be 0-3, but thanks to 4 missed field goals (2 each by Jeff Reed and Olindo Mare), the Bears have a better record than many thought they would going into Week 4.
I thought I'd grade each part of the Bears' game against the Seahawks, and then look ahead to the Lions, who have won one of their last one games.
Jay Cutler's stat line looks pretty good on paper: 21-27 for 247 yards with 3 TD's and 1 interception. Completing 77% of your passes in any game is most definitely a good thing. Cutler did miss some open receivers, and the interception was just a poor throw, even though he was under pressure. The good thing about Cutler's performance was the "Good Cutler" showed up, and he led the Bears to a 4th quarter comeback.
Running Backs: B
Matt Forte didn't have the same game that Frank Gore did as many thought he would. Forte rushed for 66 yards on 21 carries, which averages out to about 3 yards per carry. One reason I think that Forte isn't as impressive as he was last year is because he's dancing in the backfield, which obviously won't get him to the hole as quickly as going downhill right away. I'll get to the other reason I think he's not playing as well later on. Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe also came in to gain meaningful yards.
Wide Receivers: A
The receivers were, by far, the best part of the offense on Sunday. Devin Hester made some great catches, including the game winning touchdown in the 4th quarter. One play that will stick out in Bears fans' minds for a long time is Johnny Knox's catch and great move that got him into the end zone. While only 5 different receivers caught Jay Cutler passes, 4 of those 5 guys had 4 or more catches. The one guy who had less than that was Johnny Knox, who had one catch for the aforementioned touchdown. These guys continue to outperform their preseason expectations.
Offensive Line: C+
The O-Line continues to struggle, and has really been the most unimpressive part of the entire Bears team. I think every offensive lineman got beat, and got beat badly at one point or another during the game. During the first half of the game, they had no push and the D-Line of Seattle was dominating the Bears' front 5. Consequently, Matt Forte and the running backs had nowhere to run most of the time. They got better at run blocking as the game went on, but they need to play well for the entire game to get a better grade. It's clear that the strong suit of the O-Line on Sunday was pass protection. Jay Cutler had all day to throw all game and he made the most of it.
Defensive Line: B+
The Bears' D-Line has been one of the highlights of the team this year, which is an improvement from a year ago. The Bears continued to get pressure on the quarterback and did a decent job stopping the run. Seattle did a nice job of preventing the pass rushers from getting to the quarterback with their West Coast offense, quick passes, and Seneca Wallace's mobility.
The linebacking corps, despite being heavily decimated, shined on Sunday, as Briggs, Hillenmeyer, and Roach flew around the field and made play after play. Briggs made a great interception, and Roach, in my opinion, was the game MVP. Roach sniffed out a reverse, and made the pass breakup on the Seahawks 4th down play that gave the game to the Bears. On that play he covered a TON of ground, sprinting from his middle linebacker position to the sideline to break up the play. They also contributed to the pressure on the quarterback. They'll have to keep stepping up, because Hunter Hillenmeyer has a rib injury, and Lance Briggs has a foot injury that they'll have to keep an eye on.
Defensive Backs: B-
I think the defensive backfield has a lot of opportunities to make plays. I think they have a lot of talent back there, but the scheme they run is preventing them from being noticed more. The Cover 2 defense is old, and most teams know how to beat it. That being said, Al Afalava had a pretty good game. A couple of near interceptions and a really nice pass breakup on a play that probably would have gone for a first down catch by TJ Houshmandzadeh. I'll tell you though, I'm getting sick of Charles Tillman's ball-stripping "tackles". On the Seahawks first touchdown, Tillman had a clear shot at Julius Jones, but decided to go for the ball, and Jones had no problem breaking the tackle and scoring. Someone needs to point this out to him in film and correct it in practice.
Special Teams: B-
Robbie Gould missed a 53-yard field goal, but I'll give him a pass on that one. He kept his streak alive from inside 40 yards. Johnny Knox had a great kickoff return, but the usually spectacular Brad Maynard shanked a punt and the kickoff coverage allowed a big return. Things could be better.
Overall Performance: B
The Bears still have alot of things to improve upon. It's a good thing the Lions are coming to town this weekend.
Speaking of the Lions, they're coming off their first win in nearly two years. I think Matthew Stafford will be a really good quarterback in the league, but he is going through the growing pains of being a rookie starter. That obviously bodes well for the bears DB's, as well as the defensive line. Their upset chances may be in jeopardy if Kevin Smith can't go. Smith rushed for over 100 yards against the Redskins but had to leave the game with a shoulder injury. His status for the Chicago game is still uncertain. They've only given up 5 sacks through 3 games, and that includes a game against the Vikings. The Lions are giving up 4.5 yards per rush, so maybe this is the game that Matt Forte finally gets back to form. Their DB's are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete about 75% of their passes, so Jay Cutler, given the time to throw, should be able to find plenty of open Bears. I might even start Earl Bennett this week in fantasy.
Prediction: Bears 33, Lions 10
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