Rapid Reaction: Bears 24, Lions 20
December, 5, 2010
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
DETROIT -- The Chicago Bears didn’t generate the dominating performance fans expected Sunday in their bumbling 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions.
But so what? Style points won’t matter when determining this team’s final record.
The most important factor in this game is the fact the Bears tacked on another win to maintain their lead in the NFC North. The game exposed the club still has warts in spots -- especially along the offensive line -- which need to be addressed and improved prior to next Sunday's showdown at Soldier Field with the New England Patriots, and brought about concerns about how the club moves forward at outside linebacker.
Here are a few quick thoughts from the Bears’ 24-20 victory over the Lions:
What it means: The Bears maintain their standing atop the NFC North, but the Green Bay Packers lurk close behind in the standings.
Linebacker concerns: Keep a close watch on Chicago’s injury situation at linebacker, because it will be interesting to see how the club handles it if Pisa Tinoisamoa’s recurring knee issues continue.
Nick Roach started in place of Tinoisamoa on Sunday, but suffered a hip injury in the first half, and wasn’t able to continue. The Bears operated out of nickel more in the second half, and inserted Rod Wilson as Roach’s replacement.
Wilson lost contain on a Jahvid Best run for 45 yards in the second quarter. If Tinoisamoa is unable to return for next week’s game against the Patriots, it appears the only other option at the position is Brian Iwuh, who started in place of Lance Briggs on the weak side Oct. 17 against Seattle.
OL regression: Chicago’s offensive line put together solid outings after giving up 10 sacks in a span of two weeks from Oct. 17 to Oct. 24. But it appears the unit might be resorting to old ways.
The Bears’ sack totals rose three weeks in a row going into Sunday’s game, and Jay Cutler has now suffered four sacks in each of his past two outings. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that Detroit managed four sacks, despite missing the services of its top pass rusher Kyle Vanden Bosch.
The struggles up front will needs to be shored up prior to next week’s game against the Patriots.
Taylor time: Given Chester Taylor’s recent struggles, he should consider the small steps he took in the first half against the Lions significant progress. Headed into the matchup against the Lions, Taylor had logged more attempts (17) than yards (7). But the veteran carried five times for 24 yards and a touchdown in the first half against the Lions.
Set to earn $7 million guaranteed this season, Taylor still isn’t giving Chicago a significant return on its investment. But it appears the club will continue to give him plenty of opportunities. In addition to running the ball seven times in the first half, Taylor caught three passes for 16 yards.
Unfortunately for Taylor, though, his production didn’t increase much as the game progressed. Through the first three quarters, the running back had carried eight times for 33 yards.
Struggles continue for Aromashodu: Despite immense physical attributes, Devin Aromashodu can’t seem to put things together well enough mentally to earn the trust of offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
Cutler misfired on an attempt to Aromashodu in the first half because the receiver appeared to be blocking instead of running a pass route. Such mistakes won’t do much to gain the trust of Martz, who diminished Aromashodu’s role after a Week 1 performance in which the receiver dropped four passes and missed several blocks downfield.
What’s next: The Bears receive an extra day of rest on their opponent for next week’s matchup with the Patriots, who meet the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Patriots are 4-1 over their past four games, and will be Chicago’s most formidable foe since the Philadelphia Eagles. For the Bears to maintain their lead over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, they need to continue to tack on victories, regardless of the opponent. Fortunately for the Bears, they host the Patriots next week at Soldier Field.