Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Streaking/Slumping: Week 12
By Michael C. Wright
Julius Peppers led the charge against Michael Vick while Chester Taylor continued to struggle.
1. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers makes the list for the second consecutive week for playing a major role in Chicago’s success against Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Peppers registered a sack of Vick on third and 3 from the Chicago 3 that resulted in a 15-yard loss, which forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal when they could have gone ahead. Peppers also made four tackles, including a couple of key stops on Vick scrambles. Peppers has now posted four sacks in his past two games, after a five-week stretch in which he didn’t contribute any.
2. Jay Cutler, QB: After throwing seven interceptions over four outings coming into Sunday’s game, Cutler shredded the Eagles defense for four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 146.2. Cutler’s rating against the Eagles ranked as the seventh-best all-time rating in Bears history, and fourth among Bears quarterbacks since the AFL-NFL merger (1970). As a bonus, Cutler made timely plays with his legs, including a 12-yard scramble in the midst of a 17-play drive that took 10 minutes and five seconds off the clock.
3. Matt Forte, RB: Forte appeared to notch his second 100-yard rushing performance against the Dolphins prior to Sunday’s game, but 3 yards in losses on his last two attempts stripped him of it, leaving the running back at 97 on the night. Forte made up for that against the Eagles, running for 117 yards -- including a 61-yard burst -- while averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Given the team’s new-found commitment to the run, Forte seems to be peaking at just the right time. Forte also contributed to the passing game with a 16-yard catch.
1. Brad Maynard, P: It’s long been coming, but the punter managed to stave off placement on this list. After his performance against Philadelphia, Maynard belongs here. Maynard finished with a 35-yard net average on five punts against the Eagles. But it’s not all bad. The veteran managed to blast a 56-yarder (the longest of the game) on his first punt. The problem with that is the team’s coverage unit didn’t hold up on their end, and allowed DeSean Jackson to return the punt 35 yards.
2. Chester Taylor, RB: Taylor winds up here for the second week in a row after another outing in which he finished with more attempts than yards. Over the past two weeks, Taylor has now run 12 times for minus-1 yard. Obviously, the lack of opportunities plays into this because of the difficulty of finding a rhythm with limited opportunities. Knowing the situation going in, especially with Forte being on a hot streak, Taylor needs to find a way to make the most of those limited carries given the Bears' financial commitment to him. Brett Favre says Taylor was underused in Minnesota, which might be the case here, too.
3. J’Marcus Webb, RT: Eagles rookie Brandon Graham relished the opportunity to line up across from Webb once he found out he’d be starting in place of Juqua Parker. Now we know why. Not only was Graham able to get penetration against the run, which caused tackles for lost yardage, he came in virtually free on a sack of Cutler when Webb became too preoccupied with what was going on inside. Webb also allowed Graham to get past for pressures on Cutler. On the positive side, Webb continues to improve each week. But he needs to eliminate the inevitable breakdowns he has every week to advance to the next level in his development.