Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Streaking/Slumping: Week 16
By Michael C. Wright
Josh McCown made a strong case for a job in 2012, while Zack Bowman endured a nightmare against the Packers.
1. Josh McCown, QB: Completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for a touchdown with two interceptions, McCown raised questions as to whether the Bears should have gone with him as the starter sooner. McCown appeared to be comfortable in the face of arduous circumstances against the Packers, leading the offense to its best performance -- in terms of yardage -- of the season. A strong outing against the Minnesota Vikings should ensure McCown a legitimate shot in 2012 at the No. 2 job.
2. Kahlil Bell, RB: Bell carried the ball 11 times in the first quarter alone against the Packers for an average of 5.4 yards per carry, finishing with a game- and career-high 123 yards, but with two fumbles. Green Bay’s lousy run defense isn’t an accurate barometer to gauge Bell’s worth, but the running back has proven in two starts that he’s capable of shouldering the load as the featured ball carrier.
3. Earl Bennett, WR: Going into the matchup with the Packers, Bennett had caught just three balls over his past four games. Bennett hauled in only one ball on Sunday, but on that 49-yard reception, the receiver showcased the elusiveness that prompted the team to sign him to an extension recently. With Johnny Knox out of action, Bennett is the team’s bona fide go-to receiver. McCown will likely lean on Bennett even more in the season finale.
1. Major Wright, S: Wright led the Bears in tackles against the Packers, but his inconsistency has led to too many big plays for opponents. Wright missed a tackle on Ryan Grant in the third quarter that led to a 24-yard gain. Two plays later Wright watched Jordy Nelson blow past him for a 55-yard touchdown. Wright was playing in his first game since returning from a shoulder injury suffered on Dec. 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The rust definitely showed.
2. Zack Bowman, CB: Bowman made his first start since the 2010 season, and acknowledged things didn’t go as smoothly as he expected. The Packers targeted Bowman in coverage for three of Aaron Rodgers’ five touchdown passes, and the corner was called for a pass interference penalty on a play in which Nelson still made the catch. Bears coach Lovie Smith continues to give Bowman chances to win back his starting job permanently, but the corner hasn’t yet taken advantage of the opportunity.
3. Devin Hester, WR: Injuries have robbed Hester of his explosiveness in the return game. He’s definitely shown flashes of the game-changing return man he is, but a tender ankle has taken away his burst and cutting ability. What’s worse is that Hester hasn’t been able to contribute on offense after such a strong showing at training camp that indicated perhaps he had turned the corner as a receiver.