By Nick Shepkowski-
(WSCR) Just over a month ago, the Bears were 2-3 and looked to be headed for disappointment. Five wins later, they seem like a legitimate player in the NFC race after another rather impressive showing against San Diego on Sunday. That is, if they are able to overcome Jay Cutler’s broken thumb.
Offensive Pass Blocking – For the second time in three games, the Bears did not allow a quarterback sack this time in the 32 dropbacks Jay Cutler had. Questions were raised with Chris Williams being out with a broken wrist, but Edwin Williams did a plenty acceptable job in pass protection for him. Whether Mike Tice likes to admit it or not, the offensive line, coupled with more favorable play-calling, has allowed Cutler to drop back without having to fear for his life in the last month.
Jay Cutler – Amazing what happens when No. 6 is not running for his life. 18-31 for 286 yards and 2 TD’s is more than a solid showing, and he can’t be blamed for his interception, as Johnny Knox fell, allowing the ball to be picked off without any real defense against it. 97.0 QB Rating for Cutler as he has been lights out for most of the five-game winning streak. (More to come on him, later).
Roy Williams – Never thought I would say it, but Roy Williams was a difference-maker in a good way today for the Bears. He didn’t break a huge play vs. San Diego, but all five of Williams’ receptions went for first downs, as he was a key component in getting the offense out of their early funk.
Charles Tillman’s Ballpunch – Creating turnovers came up huge once again for the Bears, specifically Tillman’s strip and recovery of Ryan Mathews fumble early in the third quarter. In what was a tie game, the fumble prevented San Diego from being able to regain the lead and set up the Bears in excellent field position.
Matt Forte – For the second time in as many weeks, the Bears rushing attack was not to be found, specifically Matt Forte (20 rushes for 57 yards). Forte did have a key 17-yard reception, but his production has dropped heavily each of the last two weeks and I can’t help but wonder if his legs may be getting a little tired from the ware and tare.
Devin Hester Kick Returns – It’s amazing how you don’t hear about how stupid teams are for kicking to Hester when they are able to contain him. Devin did break a 37 and 22 yard punt returns but his kickoff returns were limited to just 48 yards on 3 returns. Not his best day in that department but you can’t expect him to bring one back every week.
Defensive Tackles – Lack of a push upfront. Julius Peppers was dealing with double- and triple-team combination blocks throughout the day that left plenty of one-on-ones elsewhere, and nobody took advantage of it on a regular basis. Was very disappointed by what Anthony Adams and Amobi Okoye did, specifically. Henry Melton had a TFL, but it wasn’t his best game by any stretch, either.
Secondary – It wasn’t one guy getting beat in the secondary today, but the group showed that maybe they’re not quite as elite as they looked the last two weeks against Detroit and Philadelphia. Vincent Jackson has exploded for big games against other teams as well, but 165 yards on seven receptions was hard to watch. It doesn’t fall all on Brandon Meriweather or Chris Conte, nor on Tim Jennings or Tillman. Each were responsible at various points during Sunday’s victory. Getting two interceptions and causing a fumble were huge from this unit, though.
Jay Cutler’s Thumb – Did it happen as he prevented his interception from being returned for a score or did it happen when he was helping in run blocking? Whenever it did, the Bears will be without their starting quarterback likely for the remainder of the regular season. Caleb Hanie, the stage is yours. Oh boy…