Five Things We Learned: Bears-Jaguars
October, 7, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Here are Five Things We Learned in the Chicago Bears' 41-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
1. The defense continues to save the day: Where would this team be without the defense? The amount of sacks, turnovers and defensive touchdowns so far this year has been remarkable. Need a big play to jumpstart a sluggish Bears offense? Here's a Charles Tillman 36-yard interception return for a score. Want to put an exclamation point going into the bye week? Here's Lance Briggs with another pick-six of his own. Tillman and Briggs are now the only two teammates to have each returned an interception for a touchdown in consecutive weeks. I've resisted calling this defense better than the 2006 unit that helped carry the Bears to the Super Bowl XLI, but I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out.
2. The offense folds when the pressure is on: What's going to happen when the Bears need Jay Cutler and the offense to win a game for them in the fourth quarter? Right now, that's impossible to answer, and it remains the biggest question mark on the table. Only when the defense gave the Bears a 13-3 late third-quarter lead (Tillman's pick-six) did Cutler and the offense wake up. Same story in Dallas. Same story versus St. Louis. When games are tight, it's the defense breaking through, then the quarterback follows suit. Cutler is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when he's playing with the lead, but how much longer can the defense continue to score? Eventually, he's going to have to win some games late if the Bears want to win a Super Bowl.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesJay Cutler has yet to prove that he can deliver under pressure this season.
3. Charles Tillman could be the best Bears DB in history: If he's not, then Tillman is certainly in the team photo. Look at the numbers: eight defensive touchdowns (No. 1 in team history), 32 interceptions for a cornerback (tied for No. 1 in team history), 30 forced fumbles (tied for No. 5 in the NFL since 2003), 131 career starts and eight seasons of 80-plus tackles. He can do it all. Not only that, Tillman plays hurt. He's gutted it out over the years despite a variety of injuries and still performs at a high level. Tillman’s current deal expires after the 2013 season, but the way he's going, it seems reasonable to wonder if one more contract extension is on the horizon.
4. Bears need more out of Gabe Carimi: The Bears’ first drive in the third quarter was a nightmare for Carimi when he surrendered a sack and got whistled for false start penalties on back-to-back plays. That sequence of events came after Carimi got nailed for a holding penalty in the second quarter that wiped out a Kellen Davis 12-yard gain. I firmly believe Carimi can be a very good offensive tackle in this league, but we just haven't seen it yet on a consistent basis. For all the grief J'Marcus Webb gets for his play on the left side, Carimi hasn't been much better on the right side. Carimi is a first round-pick. It's time he starts playing like one.
5. There is no doubting Michael Bush's athleticism: I really haven't heard people question whether or not Bush is an all-purpose back lately. Most Bears fans have accepted the fact Bush is much more than a power back built for the red zone. But if you're still on the fence, get off it. Bush hurdled a Jacksonville defender on Sunday and kept running. Yes, 6-foot-1, 245-pound Michael Bush jumped clear over a guy in the open field. The Bears are at their best with Matt Forte (107 yards), but Bush (26 yards on four carries) still looks one of the best No. 2 tailbacks in the league every time he touches the football. The Bears are lucky to have him.