Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Streaking/Slumping: Week 15
By Michael C. Wright
Kahlil Bell became more of a focal point of the beleaguered Bears' offense at Marion Barber's expense.
1. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers dropped Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson and stripped him to post his 10th sack of the season. Peppers has now recorded double-digit sacks for the seventh time in his 10-year NFL career. In two seasons with the Bears, Peppers has tallied 18 sacks, which is the most in a two-year span by a Bear since linebacker Rosevelt Colvin (21 sacks in 2001-02).
2. Craig Steltz, S: Steltz led the team in tackles, recording eight, according to statistics distributed in the press box. Filling in for Major Wright, Steltz has been a steadying influence on the back end, which is somewhat uncommon considering he’s a backup. Steltz is in the final year of his original rookie contract, and is set to become a free agent after the season so the team will have to make a decision on whether to bring Steltz back. If the Bears are wise, they pull the trigger on that transaction.
3. Kahlil Bell, RB: The No. 3 running back, Bell became more of a focal point of the offense when Matt Forte suffered the MCL sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs. What’s interesting about Bell is he’s delivered every time the team has increased his workload. So maybe he deserves a promotion to the No. 2 role. After all, this team is paying Marion Barber $1.9 million in base salary in 2012 to back up Forte. Maybe that money should be spent elsewhere.
1. Caleb Hanie, QB: Hanie has thrown nine interceptions in four starts, and watched the Seahawks return two picks for touchdowns. What’s worse is he’s completed 50 percent or worse in three starts while generating passer ratings of 56.9, 23.8, 79.9 and 33.3. For a little perspective, consider the fact that quarterback Jay Cutler threw just seven interceptions despite starting in more than twice the games that Hanie has started.
2. Marion Barber, RB: Barber followed up a 108-yard performance against the Broncos with a 33-yard dud in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks. It’s bad enough he’s made mistakes that have cost the Bears two consecutive games. But Barber averaged just 3 yards per carry against the Seahawks and his longest run was a 6-yard gain. That’s not sufficient production considering the team needs to lean on the ground game to take pressure off its struggling quarterback.
3. Jerry Angelo, GM: The general manager deserves to take some heat for the way things have unfolded for this team in a couple of areas. Despite Cutler showing that he could go down with an injury in the NFC title game last season, Angelo miscalculated the value of adding a legitimate No. 2 quarterback to the roster. The team’s logic was that none of the available signal callers were familiar with the scheme of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. If that’s truly the case, maybe it points to another issue: that Angelo brought in the wrong offensive coordinator because an offense shouldn’t be so difficult that it limits the talent pool at such a crucial position.