Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Streaking/Slumping: Week 13
By Michael C. Wright
Matt Forte was a dual threat against the Lions while Devin Aromashodu continued to struggle.
1. Earl Bennett, WR: Offseason knee surgery blew his chances in the spring to make an impression on then-new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and a pulled hamstring put Bennett on the shelf for much of the preseason, leading to the receiver being inactive for the season opener. But Bennett has made the most of his opportunities lately, tying his career high for catches (seven) against the Lions, in addition to posting a career high in receiving yardage (104). Bennett’s production has increased in each of the past three weeks, and more impressive than his chemistry with Jay Cutler, is his ability to break tackles to gain yardage after the catch.
2. Matt Forte, RB: Forte averaged 4.9 yards per carry against the Lions, and scored a touchdown. But he also made plays in the passing game, catching two passes for 36 yards, including a difficult 20-yard grab on Chicago’s opening possession of the fourth quarter. The catch led to the go-ahead TD pass from Cutler to Brandon Manumaleuna. Forte has proven capable of breaking a big play at any given moment, which only adds to Cutler’s diverse arsenal of offensive weaponry. Prior to the game on Sunday, Forte had run for 97 yards or more in two consecutive games.
3. Jay Cutler, QB: For the first time all season, Cutler finished back-to-back games without throwing an interception. But more impressive is the fact he’s thrown five TDs in that same stretch while producing passer ratings of 117 or better. Cutler has also proven to be adept at buying time with his feet, and tucking and running to move the chains. It’s too early to say that Cutler has eliminated his tendency to make one or two questionable decisions per game. But his recent performances are promising. Cutler is on the first five-game winning streak of his career, and this team needs him at the top of his game for the playoff push.
1. J’Marcus Webb, RT: Bears coach Lovie Smith didn’t want to take credit away from Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril, who finished Sunday’s game with a career-high three sacks lining up primarily against Webb. “He had a heck of a game,” Smith said. “You have to give Cliff his due. Those three sacks were big.” They were also the result of Avril beating Webb consistently on Sunday. On one play, Avril jumped over a cut block by Webb to register a sack of Cutler. Sure Webb is a rookie, but he’s also taking on a prominent role in protection. As long as Webb struggles, he will continue to be a target of defenses.
2. Chester Taylor, RB: Taylor registered his first game in three weeks in which he actually finished with more yards (33) than carries (nine). He also scored a touchdown and played a prominent role in the passing game, finishing second on the team with five catches. But he’s still not generating the type of numbers the club needs from him. Taylor ran five times for 24 yards in the first half against the Lions. But over the final two quarters, he gained just 9 more yards on four additional attempts. Taylor rebounded somewhat against the Lions, but not enough to pull him out of this category.
3. Devin Aromashodu, WR: Arguably the club’s best receiver in terms of raw talent, Aromashodu seemed to prove against the Lions why the staff has been reluctant to expand his limited role in the offense. Cutler threw a short pass Aromashodu’s way in the second quarter that sailed pass without the receiver even looking. It’s important to mention that Lions defensive end Lawrence Jackson tipped the pass at the line of scrimmage. At the same time, Aromashodu never once looked for the ball. In fact, as the ball sailed past, he appeared to be trying to block the cornerback that was covering him.