By Jeff Joniak-
Alshon Jeffrey is now in the top 11 among receivers in yards after the catch with 351 yards. His running style computes to broken and missed tackles by defenders. He runs full speed every time. There is very little wasted motion with the ball in his hands and he wastes no time or yardage trying to “give to get.”
Jeffrey’s second touchdown against the Vikings captured his skill set in one catch. Head coach Marc Trestman described it as “relentless, fearless, athletic, and artistic.” “We saw all of that in one leap,” Trestman said. Dynamic players make special plays, and Jeffrey made one to remember in Minnesota.
He’s now tied for eighth in the NFL in receptions with 70. Jeffrey is fourth in yardage with 1109, which trails only Calvin Johnson in the NFC. Jeffrey and Cleveland’s Josh Gordon are the only two receivers with two 200 yard games and he’s ranked eighth in first downs per targeted throw. He and Brandon Marshall have combined for 148 catches, 103 for first downs, on 242 targeted throws, and 12 touchdowns.
Safety Craig Steltz played 99 snaps against the Vikings including all 87 on defense. That proved to be the highest snap count in the entire NFL for a single player in Week 13. Obviously, playing nearly a full fifth quarter of football is the reason why, but in his first 11 games, Steltz played only 12 defensive snaps. Add into the equation Steltz had to tackle Adrian Peterson, and you can appreciate just how sore Steltz is likely feeling right now.
Steltz told me filling the gap to stop Peterson and hitting him is one thing, but getting him to the ground requires much more than just wrapping him up. Steltz said tackling Peterson is like tackling a torpedo. Steltz shared the team lead in tackles with rookie middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic with 12.
Julius Peppers has 5.5 sacks in the last five games, plus four pass breakups, and an interception. His best two games of the season statistically came against Baltimore and Minnesota in the last three weeks with 19.5 tackles combined.
General Manager Phil Emery noted how well Peppers and new defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff communicated during practice last week, leading to very good sessions. It translated to the field Sunday, when Ratliff took on a double team, springing Peppers inside on a stunt that led to one of his sacks. Ratliff was starting an inside spin move to a counter move that the center had to account for, which opened up Peppers to beat his one-on-one match-up with the left guard. Ratliff will get more snaps this week against the Cowboys after debuting with 23 against the Vikings. Their relationship on the field is something to watch moving forward.
4th and Short
A potential target for the Bears passing game Monday night is Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 83 passes in his direction, 4th highest in the NFL for 750 yards which is also fourth highest. Offensively, Dallas right tackle and former Northern Illinois Husky Doug Free has permitted a team high 6.5 sacks.