Chicago Bears: 2012 Stock Watch

Stock Watch: Peppers' healthy effort

December, 25, 2012
12/25/12
8:38
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Julius PeppersMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireBears defensive end Julius Peppers had three sacks against the Cardinals on Sunday.

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Julius Peppers
1. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers has put together arguably his three strongest performances of the season in consecutive games dating back to Dec. 9, and has generated 4.5 sacks in those outings, including three against the Cardinals. Peppers played through plantar fasciitis earlier in the season, and based on his recent production the pain from that injury must be subsiding. Peppers contributed six tackles, knocked down a pass, and forced a fumble on Sunday, in addition to being credited for three quarterback pressures. With Henry Melton out of action the Bears needed more production from Peppers. He certainly stepped up to the challenge.

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Stock Watch: Jeffery needs refining

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
5:58
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Marshall-Jeffery Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAlshon Jeffery could benefit from some offseason work with Brandon Marshall.

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Brandon Marshall
1. Brandon Marshall, WR: He led the team in receptions with six, and flashed what should have been an inspiring effort on a 15-yard touchdown in the first half. Eventually, the Green Bay Packers took Marshall out of the game. But afterward, Marshall made a long overdue plea for accountability on offense. While collectively the group probably isn't as talented as Marshall, if they put forth his effort on a week-to-week basis, we wouldn't be discussing the possibility of the Bears possibly missing the postseason.

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Stock Watch: Forte moves up Bears' list

December, 11, 2012
12/11/12
1:50
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Matt ForteBruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsMatt Forte averaged 6.5 yards a carry against the Vikings, but had just 13 carries.

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Forte
1. Matt Forte, RB: Averaged 6.5 yards per attempt against the Vikings and ripped off a 36-yard gain. Because the Bears got into passing mode, they couldn't involve Forte enough for him to make an impact. Forte gained 119 yards from scrimmage and moved past Rick Casares for third on the franchise's all-time list for career yards from scrimmage (7,336). Forte doesn't appear to be playing at 100 percent. Perhaps it's the nagging leg injuries he's endured this season.

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Stock Watch: Marshall continues his tear

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
3:12
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Brandon MarshallRob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsThe Bears' Brandon Marshall has six 100-yard receiving games already this season.

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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: Generated a passer rating of 100-plus for the third time this season, but it also marked the first time in his career he accomplished that feat in a losing effort. In fact the defeat also marked the first time under Lovie Smith the Bears lost a game when the quarterback finished with a passer rating of 100 or better. Over the past two games, Cutler utilized his mobility more and moved around in the pocket to find room to throw. That needs to continue.

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Stock Watch: Dynamic duo not letting up

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
11:46
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Cutler-MarshallAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall reunion has been a big hit for the Bears this season.

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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: Despite all the criticism he's received throughout the season, the one thing he absolutely proved against the Vikings was that the Bears offense is a much more dynamic unit with him on the field. Whether it's scrambling for yards when the pocket breaks down or firing the throw other quarterbacks can't -- or are too afraid -- to make, Cutler provides that "it" factor at the position that every team in the league covets. Cutler completed 15 of 17 passes in the first half against the Vikings with a touchdown. Sure, Cutler would like to pass for 300 yards per game. What's encouraging, however, is Cutler has shown he'll be happy to settle for 30 yards if it equates to a victory.

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Stock Watch: Find a way for Forte

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
1:31
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Matt ForteDennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireMatt Forte averaged just 2.4 yards per carry against the Texans on Sunday.

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Tim Jennings
1. Tim Jennings, CB: Tacked on two more interceptions, and continues to lead the NFL in interceptions (eight). Despite being targeted 30 times more in coverage than Charles Tillman, Jennings has given up just eight more receptions than his counterpart. According to Pro Football Focus, opponents are actually more successful throwing the ball in Tillman's direction. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 36.7 when throwing Jennings' way in coverage, and a 57.9 rating against Tillman.
Jennings hasn't missed a tackle in four games.

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Stock Watch: Urlacher continues rise

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
11:24
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UrlacherBrian Cassella/Getty ImagesBrian Urlacher got in on the Bears' pick-six fun Sunday, returning an interception 46 yards for a touchdown.

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TBD
1. Charles Tillman, CB: Fresh off winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October, Tillman got an early jump on the November award by forcing a career-high four fumbles against the Tennessee Titans. Tillman might even be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year honors if he can keep up the production. He has already forced seven fumbles this season, and 36 in his career, which are the most in the NFL by a defensive back since 2003, when he came into the league.

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Stock Watch: Jennings dazzles again

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
1:46
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Tim JenningsAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhTim Jennings' NFL-leading sixth interception gave the Bears a late lead on Sunday.

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Tim Jennings
1. Tim Jennings, CB: Having already received recognition recently as NFC Defensive Player of the Week, Jennings should be up for the award again after his performance during the Bears' 23-22 win over the Carolina Panthers. Jennings picked off two passes in that game, including one returned 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a fourth-quarter lead. In addition, Jennings made eight tackles while minimizing the impact of Carolina receiver Steve Smith.

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Stock Watch: Forte finding his rhythm

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
5:22
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Matt ForteJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesMatt Forte followed up his first 100-yard game with a 96-yard performance against the Lions.

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TBD
1. Charles Tillman, CB: Placed the handcuffs on Detroit's Calvin Johnson on Monday, locking him down for 3 catches and 34 yards despite Matthew Stafford targeting him 11 times. Johnson didn't even finish in the Lions' top three in receptions or yardage. Tillman also forced two fumbles, with the performance leading to national recognition as NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

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Stock Watch: Marshall's record pace

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
1:47
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Brandon Marshall Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall followed up his 138-yard game against the Cowboys with a 12-catch-, 144-yard performance in Jacksonville.

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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: Started out slow in the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 110 yards, an interception and a passer rating of 45.8, but turned it on in the second half and launched a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. After a pair of stinkers in Week 2 and Week 3, Cutler has posted passer ratings of 140.1 and 88.8 over the last two games with four touchdowns and one interception.

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Brandon MarshallMatthew Emmons/US PRESSWIREBrandon Marshall had his second 100-yard receiving game of the season in Dallas on Monday.

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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: With improved protection and play calling, Cutler played an interception-free game for the first time all season, while completing 75 percent of his passes for a 140.1 passer rating. It appears Cutler and the staff have stressed the need to be more judicious with the football and eliminate turnovers. Cutler has responded, and as the offense continues to evolve, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the quarterback fall into a groove similar to the one he was on in 2011 before suffering a thumb injury.

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Brandon Marshall
2. Brandon Marshall, WR: Averaging close to six receptions per game, Marshall eliminated the drops against the Dallas Cowboys and averaged almost 20 yards per catch. It’s a given that teams will look to take Marshall out of the offense, but the receiver and Cutler have proven that it’s a tall order. Marshall’s opportunities might diminish moving forward given the damage he’s doing to defenses. The key for him will make the most of the looks he’ll receive from Cutler.

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Kellen Davis
3. Kellen Davis, TE: Davis has quietly and patiently awaited the opportunities the staff gave in the outing against the Cowboys, and averaged 20.7 yards per grab in addition to converting a crucial third down early in the game. From the standpoint of physical attributes, Davis appears to be an ideal fit for what the Bears want to do offensively. In addition, Cutler has expressed confidence in Davis, who dropped a ball early before rebounding for a big night.

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Eric Weems
1. Eric Weems, KR/WR: Billed as one of the team’s prudent moves in free agency, Weems doesn’t seem to have found a significant role on offense or special teams. Weems hasn’t caught a pass all season, and hasn’t returned a punt or a kickoff with Devin Hester as the headliner at the position. Weems has made three tackles on special teams, but it seems the Bears aren’t receiving much return on their investment (three years, $4.2 million).

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Stephen Paea
2. Stephen Paea, DT: Disruptive from the start of the season, Paea contributed five tackles, half a sack and four quarterback pressures through the first three games. The Cowboys, however, found a way to neutralize Paea somewhat. But he did post a tackle for lost yardage in the victory. No matter how skilled Paea is, he won’t be a disruptive factor every week, which is totally understandable.

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Matt Toeaina
3. Matt Toeaina, DT: Inactive for each of the last three games, after coming into the season as the co-starter opposite Paea. Since bringing aboard veteran Amobi Okoye, it appears Toeaina has become expendable. It’s unknown what the club’s plans are for Toeaina in the coming weeks. But at this point he’s becoming the 2012 version of Anthony Adams. Given the competition for spots on the active roster, Toeaina needs to show more at practice.

Stock Watch: Headed in Wright direction

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
4:14
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Major Wright, J'Marcus WebbGetty ImagesMajor Wright is finally making the impact the Bears expected, but J'Marcus Webb appears to be one bad game away from being benched.

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Major Wright
1. Major Wright, S: The light seems to be finally coming on for Wright, who has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his three years with the Bears. Against the St. Louis Rams, Wright returned an interception 45 yards for a TD, marking his second INT return for a TD. Wright is the first Chicago safety since Mike Brown to return multiple interceptions for a TD and one of three since 2010 to accomplish that feat.

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Tim Jennings
2. Tim Jennings, CB: Nabbed another interception to run up his season total to an NFL-high four, and broke up another pass that Wright intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Going back to the final game of 2011, Jennings has picked off a pass in four consecutive games to become the first Bear to accomplish that feat since Dave Duerson in 1986. Jennings’ dramatic rise might serve as a lesson for some of the younger players that improvement can be a continual process regardless of age.

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Israel Idonije
3. Israel Idonije, DT: Finally healthy after playing most of 2011 “on one leg” as he said, Idonije posted 2.5 sacks against the Rams and might finally be the complement to Julius Peppers the club expected. Idonije has generated 15.5 sacks over the last three seasons, and paired with backup Shea McClellin, the Bears seem to have found the right recipe for success on the side opposite Peppers.

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Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: Cutler definitely improved in the ball-security department against the Rams, but he still ranks among the bottom of the league in several statistical categories. Under pressure, Cutler suffers sacks 25.6 percent of the time, according to Pro Football Focus and he’s completing 13 of 31 in those situations with three interceptions. With better protection and improved play calling, Cutler should be able to shake the funk he’s fighting through.

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J'Marcus Webb
2. J'Marcus Webb, LT: With his job as a starter in danger, Webb performed better against the Rams than he did in the loss to the Green Bay Packers. But still, Webb allowed Cutler to get hit once and hurried on another occasion. Considered a dominant run blocker, Webb has slipped in that area over the past two games as well. Webb will be tested against Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. A bad game could cost Webb his starting job.

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Carimi
3. Gabe Carimi, RT: Although Webb catches most of the heat for Chicago’s issues up front, Carimi has quietly struggled as well. Carimi has been a much more solid run blocker than pass protector at this point. Against St. Louis, the second-year veteran gave up a sack, a hit and three hurries in 72 snaps. On the season, Carimi has been responsible for 11 hurries, two sacks and three hits on Cutler, according to Pro Football Focus.

Stock Watch: McClellin developing quickly

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
10:41
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McClellinMatthew Emmons/US PresswireRookie Shea McClellin has made an immediate impact on the Bears' defense.

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Tim Jennings
1. Tim Jennings, CB: Nabbing his third interception of the season against the Green Bay Packers, Jennings has already surpassed his career high of two INTs in addition to making possible another pick by tipping an Andrew Luck pass to Chris Conte. Sure, Jennings worked on his hands in the offseason. But it’s his feet that get him in position for the picks. So all around, Jennings has tremendously improved his game. What’s more is he’s playing with an infectious confidence.

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Shea McClellin
2. Shea McClellin, DE: Early in training camp, it appeared McClellin would struggle to acclimate to the NFL game. But as the preseason progressed, the rookie first-round pick gradually improved. That’s beginning to show in a major way on game days. McClellin generated 1.5 sacks against the Packers on Thursday, and his role in the defensive line rotation continues to evolve. If you extrapolate McClellin’s production through two games over a full season, he’s on pace for a 12-sack rookie year. That would equate to a draft pick well spent by the Bears.

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Julius Peppers
3. Julius Peppers, DE: His performance against the Packers should erase any criticism about Peppers being overrated. He’s not; never has been. The Packers doubled and sometimes even triple-teamed Peppers. Yet the veteran still came away with two sacks, and freed up his teammates to combine for another three. If anything, Peppers is a tad underrated, especially as a run defender who is often tasked with the job of holding up blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays.

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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: He absorbed seven sacks, threw four interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 28.2 in addition to drawing widespread criticism -- including remarks from a teammate -- for an outburst near the sideline involving left tackle J'Marcus Webb. On Tuesday, the quarterback insisted he kept his composure during a game in which he threw errant passes and held the ball too long on several occasions, resulting in sacks.

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J'Marcus Webb
2. J’Marcus Webb, LT: Gave up two sacks and a pair of quarterback pressures, resulting in the wrath of Cutler, which in some ways might have been deserved (at least behind closed doors). Webb definitely struggled against one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in Clay Matthews, but his performance wasn’t as bad as it’s been made out to be. That’s why Webb goes into Game 3 still a starter. But he’s definitely got to improve if he wants to keep his job.

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Carimi
3. Gabe Carimi, RT: Played well as a run blocker, but struggled in pass protection. Carimi surrendered a team-high five pressures against the Packers. But that seemed to go unnoticed with all the hoopla involving Cutler and Webb. Carimi would probably admit his performance wasn’t up to par because he’s a harsh self-critic. As the team settles into the new system and all of its nuances, Carimi will play better. It’s not like him to stack shaky performances.

Stock Watch: Marshall is a game-changer

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
5:22
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Marshall-HesterUS Presswire, Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall had a big Bears debut in Week 1 while Devin Hester's role in the offense is still a work in process.

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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: Cutler overcame a rough start to light up the Indianapolis Colts for 333 yards through the air with two touchdowns, and a passer rating of 98.9 after starting the first quarter 2 of 13 for 21 yards and a rating of 4.9. The fact Cutler bounced back is a significant accomplishment, but the quarterback nearly attaining a 100 passer rating is remarkable. Nobody has ever doubted Cutler’s physical skills or the mental aspect of his game. Leadership, intangibles, and fundamentals have always been the issues. But it seems Cutler is working hard to improve those areas in his game.

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Tim Jennings
2. Tim Jennings, CB: Although it seemed Jennings experienced an up-and-down year in 2011, he actually played better than he was given credit for. One of Jennings’ most pronounced shortcomings in that season was his inability to catch what should have been sure interceptions. So during the offseason, Jennings concentrated on improving in that area and that showed against the Colts. Jennings picked off two Andrew Luck passes, and deflected another attempt that safety Chris Conte picked off. Lovie Smith said Jennings is playing with confidence right now, and we don’t anticipate that changing as the year progresses.

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Brandon Marshall
3. Brandon Marshall, WR: Nobody can say they’re disappointed by the performance in the opener of the club’s most high-profile offseason acquisition. Marshall caught a team-high nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. What’s more is he flashed incredible chemistry with Cutler, body control and the ability to take over a game. Many of the team’s fans today have never seen a receiving threat of Marshall’s ilk in a Bears uniform. Marshall basically put the league on notice against the Colts. Defenses absolutely have to account for him. But even with coverages devoted to Marshall, it’s not a slam dunk that the defense can get the job done.

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Devin Hester
1. Devin Hester, WR/KR: Although he caught both passes thrown his way for 27 yards, the strong play of Alshon Jeffery might be seen as a sign that Hester could see diminished looks in the coming weeks. The team discussed putting together a package designed specifically for the receiver, but the Bears didn’t use it much against the Colts. In the future, look for the Bears to find more creative ways to get Hester the ball in space so he can use his run-after-catch ability to make plays. Still, if Jeffery continues excel, the club will have a difficult decision to make in terms of how they distribute repetitions.

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Urlacher
2. Brian Urlacher, LB: Urlacher performed fairly well coming off only one week of work during training camp and no preseason action. So he probably doesn’t belong here. But until conditioning is no longer an issue for Urlacher, he won’t be given the opportunities by the coaching staff to perform like the Hall of Famer he’s destined to become. Urlacher wasn’t pleased with Smith’s decision to pull him in the third quarter of the opener because he wanted to be a part of the feeding frenzy on Luck and the Colts. There’s a good chance it will take a couple of weeks for observers to finally see the Urlacher they’ve become accustomed to over the years.

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Stephen Paea
3. Stephen Paea, DT: Although they announced prior to Sunday’s game that Paea would start, the Bears opted to go with veteran Matt Toeaina as the starter. Because of an ankle injury in the preseason, Paea had been held out of workouts and the final three preseason games. So the inactivity put Paea behind in terms of physical conditioning, and that showed against the Colts. Paea won’t be in this category very long once his cardiovascular shape improves. But against the Colts, Paea was credited with no tackles and only one quarterback hit.

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