By Jeff Joniak-
Lance Briggs is good for Jon Bostic. The senior member of the linebacking unit is equipped to lead the first-time starting rookie middle linebacker through the difficult and challenging moments that no doubt will crop up Sunday in Washington, in particular against a multi-dimensional offense run by Robert Griffin III. Briggs says Bostic is further along in understanding all of the Bears’ defensive concepts.
The biggest hurdle Bostic will have to overcome is “trust.” Trust that whatever Briggs is trying to tell him is right and then act on it quickly. Hesitation brings trouble. Briggs said he just ran as fast as he could and get to the ball. Briggs did not play middle linebacker like Bostic, but feels Bostic — despite his lack of snaps — is ready for the challenge.
Jay Cutler is playing some clutch football. His six fourth-quarter touchdown throws are best in the league after six weeks. Now, he was in rally mode digging out of a big ditch in Detroit in week four, but the fact is the offense was still fighting. His 115.1 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter also earns high marks, ranking him fourth in the NFL.
He’s doing some very good work on third down reflected in his 95.3 rating, which is seventh-best in the league. Cutler’s touchdown percentage of 9.1 percent on third down trails only Peyton Manning’s ridiculous 12.3 percent and Colin Kaepernick’s 9.8 percent. In a league where games ultimately come down to the fourth quarter, these are key numbers to continue to watch over the final 10 weeks of the season.
A week ago Thursday, 22 percent of the Bears active 46-man roster was made up of rookies. Ten of the 11 on the 53-man roster were active, and many had to step into key roles on special teams for coordinator Joe DeCamillas.
“I knew we were very young in that game, and I knew we had some guys playing that really haven’t played that much,” he says.
It’s significant and here’s why: The new off-season practice rules prevent the young kids from getting the number of reps on special teams as a coach might like, because they need the reps on offense and defense as well.
A player like Jon Bostic played a lot of snaps and reps on teams in the preseason, despite starting for the injured D.J. Williams. According to DeCamillas, it’s because of that practice investment that Bostic is playing well on teams. Now that he’s starting at middle linebacker, he will continue to be on some of the special teams units against the Redskins.
4th and Short
A big turnout of Jermon Bushrod supporters will be in Fed Ex Field Sunday, but they will not necessarily be rooting for the Bears. Bushrod’s family and friends are avid Redskins fans, and despite the fact he’s a Bear, he said they hope he plays great, but they’ll be largely rooting for the Redskins.
Bushrod grew up in Virginia, about and an hour and a half from Washington D.C. His favorite player was the speedy defensive back and 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Green. Bushrod knows the type of game he’s in for against the Redskins. He’s preparing for a power rush out of the base 34, against “squatty lower-bodied guys” with good power moves and good hands. “It’s going to be a battle,” Bushrod predicts.