Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Streaking and Slumping: Week 10
By Michael C. Wright
Nothing seems to be able to stop Julius Peppers, while Jay Cutler continued his inconsistent ways vs. the Lions.
1. Devin Hester, WR: Hester missed the entire week of practice leading into Sunday’s game because of a sprained ankle, before a bout with strep throat casted further doubt about his availability. Hester overcame those obstacles Sunday to put together yet another electric performance in the return game. His 82-yard punt return in the second quarter gave Hester his 18th return TD. He’s now just one return TD away from tying Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’ record (19) for combined return touchdowns.
2. Charles Tillman, CB: It’s interesting that 30-year-old receivers aren’t referred to as old as much as Tillman seems to be. But in any case, Tillman, 30, proved against the Lions that there’s plenty left in the tank. In shadowing Lions receiver Calvin Johnson -- arguably the game’s best at his position -- Tillman limited him to 81 yards and no touchdowns, despite 19 targets. Johnson was coming off four consecutive 100-yard games when he faced Tillman.
3. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers has been hobbled by an injured knee since Oct. 10, but his production hasn’t dipped. Peppers forced a first-quarter fumble, a turnover that led to the team’s first touchdown, and later registered a sack for an 11-yard loss. The Bears have been creative with the way they’ve deployed Peppers, and the veteran has responded by becoming a matchup nightmare for opponents. Peppers has now forced 33 fumbles since 2002, and has 95 sacks over that same span.
1. Jay Cutler, QB: He put on a brilliant performance in the first loss to Detroit, followed that with a strong game against the Vikings and then struggled in the win over Tampa Bay in London. Cutler came back strong against the Eagles, then played poorly Sunday in the win over the Lions. See a pattern here? Cutler possesses the skills to be an elite quarterback, but hasn’t played consistently enough to be placed in that category. Cutler completed less than 50 percent of his passes against the Lions for a passer rating of 46.3.
2. Corey Wootton, DE: So much for the strong training camp performance of this second-year player. Wootton wowed spectators in the summer before a knee injury put him on the shelf for the first three games. Wootton returned against the Carolina Panthers and registered nothing in terms of statistics, then injured his hand the next week in practice. Wootton hasn’t been active for five consecutive games now, and the team’s decision to sign Chauncey Davis might be an indicator of where he stands.
3. Roy Williams, WR: For three consecutive weeks, Williams caught at least three passes going into Sunday’s game. In fact, he’d hauled in multiple balls in four games. But Williams finished without a catch for the first time this season since the team’s Oct. 2 win over the Carolina Panthers. In his defense, Cutler threw just two passes Williams’ direction and neither were particularly catchable. Cutler didn’t even look Williams’ direction until the second quarter. If the team plans on Williams being a major weapon, it has to get the receiver involved earlier.