Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Streaking and Slumping: Week 9
By Michael C. Wright
Earl Bennett had a big night in his return while Anthony Adams was inactive for the first time in three years.
1. Jay Cutler, QB: Twice in the last three games the quarterback provided a glimpse of why the Bears traded a couple of first-round picks to acquire his services. Cutler completed 56.2 percent of his passes, but did a masterful job of avoiding pressure and taking care of the ball. Cutler’s confidence seems to be growing with every step of progress the offense makes, which should bode well down the stretch.
2. Earl Bennett, WR: Bennett missed five games, but seemed to pick up right where he left off in the chemistry department with Cutler. The Bears utilize Bennett mostly in the slot, but perhaps it’s time the staff puts in more plays featuring him. Bennett caught all five of the passes thrown his way against the Eagles, and his run-after-catch skills make him by far the club’s most dangerous threat.
3. Offensive line: Offensive line coach Mike Tice said last week that the staff learned the starting five isn’t good enough to line up against opponents and win without help from tight ends and running backs chipping. That’s fine. But the starting five definitely deserves credit for Cutler suffering just three sacks in the past three games, including none against the Eagles.
1. Anthony Adams, DT: A nine-year veteran, Adams was inactive against the Eagles for the first time since November of 2008. Adams made just three tackles in games against the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and might be losing ground to other players in the rotation such as Matt Toeina and Stephen Paea. Adams still possesses the skill set to contribute significantly. But he needs to perform better moving forward.
2. Matt Forte, RB: First off, Forte’s production against the Philadelphia Eagles (24 attempts for 133 yards) shouldn’t be overlooked. But he fumbled for the first time in 347 touches with both turnovers leading to Eagles touchdowns. Forte didn’t make excuses for the miscues, and likely won’t find himself in this category very long. After all, Forte is on pace to rush for 1,610 yards, which would go down as the franchise’s best one-season rushing performance since 1984 (Walter Payton rushed for 1,684 yards in 1984).
3. Dane Sanzenbacher, WR: Sanzenbacher remains a virtual no-show in the Bears’ offense. He’s caught just three passes over the past three games for 26 yards, and despite being thrown to twice against the Eagles, the rookie failed to come up with a grab. Sanzenbacher received the Cutler “look” after dropping a ball in the second quarter. Perhaps he’s hit the often-discussed rookie wall?