Bears-Viking: Five Things We Learned
MINNEAPOLIS -- Here are five things we learned following the Bears 17-13 win at the Metrodome.
1. Mike Martz failed to help his cause: The Bears started a policy in 2010 prohibiting members of the media from talking to any assistant coaches after games, so it was impossible to ask Martz why it took so long to give left tackle J'Marcus Webb some help with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. I wish I knew. When the Bears finally began to double- and triple-team Allen with tight ends Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis, he became a nonfactor. But before that switch occurred in the second half, Allen had 3.5 sacks, destroying Webb in the process. I just don't trust Martz. He did the same thing in those early-season losses at New Orleans and Detroit: repeatedly calling for deep drops without even the benefit of a chip. I'll give Martz some credit for helping get Josh McCown game-ready the past two weeks, but the coordinator's overall body of work has been below average. There is no need for the Bears to embarrass Martz, just let him gracefully drift off into the sunset and not offer him a new contract. With all the turnover this year in the NFL, maybe he'll be able to land on his feet. If not, it's been a good run.
2. The Bears need to sign Kyle Orton: I think McCown did a solid job given the circumstances. His reward for the last two starts should be the Bears' No. 3 quarterback job next year. The No. 2 quarterback, if possible, needs to be Kyle Orton. That might not happen if Orton gets an offer to start somewhere in the league, but if he is available, pay the man to be Jay Cutler's primary backup. Orton wants to come to Chicago. He is held in very high regard by the veteran players in the Bears' locker room. It's the perfect fit. Time for the Bears to make that happen. They tried to claim Orton off waivers, and it didn't work out. But if Orton hits free agency, the first number to pop up on his cell phone should be from Halas Hall.
3. Tim Jennings made a strong case: Just when it looked like Jennings would not be re-signed, he went out and had a really good game in Minnesota. Jennings always tackles well, but he drops too many easy interceptions. That, and his lack of height are his most notable limitations as a player. Of course you'd like to have more size at cornerback, but shouldn't the Bears at least make Jennings an offer and see what happens? Odds are he'd like to test the open market, so maybe he goes elsewhere based on his personal preference. But based on his play the last two years, I wouldn't be so quick to push Jennings out the door. He's a good player.
4. Kahlil Bell is not ready to be a full-time starter: This is not meant to slight Bell. Like McCown, he made the most of his opportunities the final few weeks of the regular season. But he put the ball on the ground three times the past two weeks. That can't happen. If contract talks with Matt Forte go sideways, the Bears need to bring in another veteran to start or at the very least split time with Bell. Bell, set to be a restricted free agent in the offseason, is a promising player who deserves a more prominent role in the Bears’ offense in 2012. But I would not feel comfortable with him as the Bears' feature back next fall. He should be penciled in as the No. 2 and let's see how things play out with Forte.
5. Brian Urlacher's injury could be a blessing in disguise: Urlacher's left knee injury looked horrible when it happened in the fourth quarter, but thankfully he was able to walk off the field under his own power. However, there has been a trend recently with Urlacher: he's had two great seasons coming off an injury and a lockout. Maybe the time off is good for the middle linebacker. Obviouslyy, Urlacher is going to have to rehab the knee, so it's not as if he's going on some sort of vacation. But would it be the worst thing in the world for Urlacher to rest up and miss the offseason training program and organized team activities? Didn't seem to hurt him this year. Just a thought, because I have a feeling the Bears are going to need Urlacher more than ever in 2012, especially when you take into account the uncertain status of Lance Briggs and the Bears' struggles to draft at the linebacker position.