Chicago Bears: Three answers, one question
After Chicago's 20-17 victory over Green Bay, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
1. Kyle Orton was grimacing both on the field and in the locker room as he manipulated an ankle that very clearly is still bothering him almost six weeks after originally spraining it. But I don't see how the ankle can be at fault for some of the interceptions he's thrown. Sometimes it seems like Orton trusts his reads too much. He throws passes based on what he thinks he should see without confirming that he's actually seen it. Orton admitted he didn't realize Green Bay was in a zone defense when he threw a pass directly to Charles Woodson. Had he simply looked, he would have known Woodson was in position for an interception.
2. Robbie Gould has mastered the art of bad-weather kicking. There was no doubt about his game-winner, even as Green Bay's Mason Crosby made the conditions look worse than they actually were. Part of it is understanding the relationship between wind, temperature, ground condition and technique. But another part is having a mild personality. From listening to Gould talk in the locker room Monday night, it doesn't seem like he's bothered by much. His laid-back personality is just as important as his physical attributes late in a game.
3. I know I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Danieal Manning is the most physical kick returner I've ever seen. He doesn't so much as look for contact as he simply ignores it. You saw the way he dragged Green Bay special-teamer Jarrett Bush 25 yards on his 70-yard kickoff returner. But just as important, Manning makes sure he gets every yard available to him even on routine returns. After the game, he referred to his style as "going Incredible Hulk" and I think that's a pretty good description. It's like he rips his shirt off, screams something nonsensical and challenges anyone to come after him.
And here is one question I'm still asking:
Why did it take so long to zero in on tight ends Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen? Clark and Olsen combined for two receptions in the first half and seven in the second and overtime. It's been obvious since the start of the season that the Bears' tight ends were the key to their passing game. Why even mess around with passes to the Marty Bookers and Brandon Lloyds of the world? Especially this time of year, it seems like Clark and Olsen should be their first and second options. In either order.