5 Chicago Bears Who Stood out Against the New York Giants
The scoreline of 41-13 really doesn't do the Bears justice in how they played last night.
The real difference was converting red-zone opportunities into points. Chicago finished with one touchdown in five trips to the red zone, whilst New York converted four out of their six attempts.
However, if you look beneath the stats, you would have seen many Chicago players actually had a nice game. The offense was seeming to gel together a lot more, conceding one sack, which the blame has to be pinned on quarterback Jay Cutler, who should have thrown the ball away. Out of the performance, I've picked out five who I believe stood out and shined though an otherwise disappointing result.
We now all can see what Jay Cutler can do with great offensive line protection. Again, not jaw-dropping numbers with 12 of 21 and 171 yards, but consider that if Devin Hester had not of tripped on his quick out route, you could add a touchdown to those numbers. Cutler was airing the ball out a lot in the first half. In fact, starting back Matt Forte carried the ball four times all game, which shows you what Mike Martz wanted to see from his starting unit. The air attack included many screens to the backs to try and get the offensive linemen into open space, which Cutler was able to execute very well.
The connection between receiver Roy Williams and Cutler had no spark, with Williams dropping a pass, which you would expect a first-choice receiver to catch on a third down attempt. Cutler looked more at ease throwing to Devin Hester, who made a nice 37-yard catch on a go route, and Earl Bennett, who caught a zip wire-like throw for 21 yards on the last drive of the second quarter.
Hanie finished with 17 of 28, 166 yards and an interception. These numbers may not be eye-popping, but the way Hanie performed in the pocket showed great signs of improvement from Week 1 against Buffalo.
Hanie made the correct reads, threw accurately and most of all, he looked composed.
He marched the offense down the field at the beginning of the second half, which culminated in the Bears failing to convert on 4th and goal. With 2:40 left in the game, Hanie drove 84 yards down the field with precision, spreading the ball to different receivers. He found Onrea Jones three times and hit two other receivers in Andy Fantuz and Kris Adams and running back Kahlil Bell. His numbers for the first six plays of the drive were 6 of 6 for 75 yards, a drive which was capped off with Bell rushing for the short yardage score.
It's tough to pick out a player on the defensive side when the team didn't record a single sack, big play or turnover.
However, D.J. Moore stood out from the rest of the defense, especially in the first half. The tiny nickelback was always nearby, and he made a nice tackle on a third down stop. For a player at 5' 9" and 180 lbs, he is a great tackler, making a total of four solo tackles, according to stats provided by NFL.com. Moore, a favorite of head coach Lovie Smith, came in mainly on third down nickle packages and looked like he was ready to build on his nice season last year.
It wasn't necessarily Barber's ground-and-pound running game that caught the eye, but it was also his soft hands. Barber finished with a team high five receptions for 31 yards. It seems that if Barber is an asset in the passing game, there would be no need to keep Chester Taylor, who was a huge disappointment last year. Barber failed to impress in the goal-line carries he had in the game, which he also failed to do whilst at Dallas, one area where Chester Taylor seems to have over the other running backs the Bears have.
"Marion the Barbarian" finished with a solid ground game of 13 carries for 49 yards, which led Chicago in rushing in a game where they threw the ball 49 times and ran it 26 times, including both Caleb Hanie's QB sneak and his scramble.
The Offensive Line
This goes to the offensive line, but in particular, the young tackles Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb.
Carimi had an impressive game against the Bills last week and built on it again, keeping elite defensive end Justin Tuck relatively quiet with only three tackles. However, the player for Chicago who I think had the best game was J'Marcus Webb. He was a lot more fluid on his kick step, played with more tenacity and kept Jay cutler clean all night. Jason Pierre-Paul, the man opposite Webb, did not register a single tackle all game, according to NFL.com stats. That is the most you can ask for out of a lineman.
But as I said, the entire offensive line played well. They held their ground against a very good Giants defense and the one sack which they are accredited for goes on Jay Cutler, who scrambled outside the pocket and should have thrown the ball away. A major improvement from not only last year but last week. Hopefully we can look forward to seeing more performances from them like that as the year goes on.