Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Streaking/Slumping: Week 11
By Michael C. Wright
Brian Urlacher made Bears history against Miami while J'Marcus Webb looked like a rookie.
1. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers leads this list of all-defensive streakers because of his performance last Thursday at Miami. Heading into the game, Peppers had registered just two sacks on the season. But he racked up three more against a wounded Dolphins team. Sure, Miami left tackle Jake Long was limited by a shoulder injury against Peppers. But the defensive end deserves credit for taking advantage of the situation, because if he hadn’t, he would have ended up in the slumping list. Peppers also contributed six tackles, and three quarterback hurries in addition to deflecting a pass that led to an interception.
2. Charles Tillman, CB:Because of his physical play, Tillman -- despite some shortcomings in coverage -- fits Chicago’s Cover-2 heavy scheme almost perfectly. Tillman recorded his 25th career interception (third of the season) against the Dolphins to tie George McAfee for sixth in Bears history, in addition tying the team lead in tackles (six). More impressive is the fact the Bears have won 16 of 19 games in which Tillman posted an INT. Tillman has also proven adept at stripping the ball (three forced fumbles), which is a big reason the club ranks second in the NFL in takeaways with 25.
3. Brian Urlacher, LB:Urlacher posted one last tackle on the final play of the Miami game (finishing with five on the night) to surpass Mike Singletary for the most tackles in team history with 1,484 over his career. Considering his consistent play this season, Urlacher could probably be a permanent fixture in this section. He leads the team with 78 tackles, including nine stops for lost yardage. One of the most athletic middle linebackers in the league, Urlacher is one of the main reasons the Bears are able to successfully execute their Tampa 2 defense with consistency.
1. Chester Taylor, RB: It’s a luxury to field a backfield featuring two legitimate threats, but that’s not exactly what the Bears had last Thursday in their win over the Miami Dolphins. Matt Forte rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins on 25 carries. But when Taylor received opportunities to run, he didn’t capitalize, which is somewhat disappointing considering the running back’s ability. Taylor finished with fewer yards than attempts against the Dolphins, and wasn’t a factor in the passing game. Clearly the lack of opportunities aren’t allowing Taylor to flow into a rhythm. Knowing opportunities will likely remain limited, Taylor needs to adjust accordingly.
2. Jay Cutler, QB: Cutler has played an instrumental role in the improvement on offense, but he’s also one of the reasons the unit hasn’t yet blossomed into something more commiserate with his eye-popping skill set. He’s thrown an interception in three of his last four games, while posting a passer rating of 90 or better only once since Sept. 27. That’s not to say Cutler is performing poorly (the offense has converted 55.6 percent on third downs the last three games). He’s just not playing up to his potential. In every game, fans have come to expect one or two bone-headed decision with the ball from Cutler. Those instances need to become rarities.
3. J’Marcus Webb, RT: Headed into last Thursday’s game, Webb had received plenty of praise from the staff for the tremendous strides he recently made. But against Miami, the rookie right tackle drew a tough assignment against Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake, a premier rusher. Wake routinely blew past Webb, resulting in a sack by the outside linebacker, not to mention a couple of holding penalties on the right tackle. After such a shaky performance, Webb can count on teams looking for ways to exploit him in the coming weeks. So Webb needs to bounce back in a major way Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.