Free Head Exam: Chicago Bears
December, 27, 2010
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
After the Chicago Bears' 38-34 victory over the New York Jets, here are three issues that merit further examination:
- Here is some context for how unusual Sunday's offensive output was: This season, the Jets had won every game in which they had scored at least 10 points. In other words, that's all their defense has needed to lock down opponents. But against the Bears, not even 34 points was enough. You have to assume the Bears will advance in the playoffs as far as their defense and special teams can take them. But it's now comforting to know their offense has progressed to the point where it can compete in, and win, a shoot-out.
- Quarterback Jay Cutler is getting all kinds of praise for his three-touchdown performance, and rightfully so. The Jets had allowed only two passing touchdowns all season that traveled more than 20 yards in the air, and Cutler had three of them Sunday. I give some credit to Cutler for identifying single coverage in each instance, but for me the more impressive play came from the receivers. Johnny Knox (twice) and Devin Hester weren't necessarily open but made exceptional adjustments on the ball in the end zone. The plays were a combination of a quarterback's growing confidence and the receivers' growing skill level.
- Rashied Davis did what any smart and experienced special-teams player would do Sunday: He took a double-take as soon as he noticed Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez hadn't left the field on a fourth-down situation from the Jets' 40-yard line early in the third quarter. Davis immediately recognized the fake and made sure to cover receiver Brad Smith and break up the play. I don't blame the Jets for trying a fake rather than punting to Hester, but come on. A fake with your quarterback as the upback? That's not going to surprise a well-coached special-teams group like the Bears'.
Kevin SeifertThe NFC North champs take their turn in the exam room.
What's gotten in to Chris Harris? The Bears' veteran safety collected a season-high 11 tackles and made another key interception, this time ending the Jets' final possession and sealing the victory. Over his past eight games, Harris has five interceptions. I'm sure Pro Bowl voters had already started making their minds up before the final month of the season, but Harris sure has put on a nice run. Initially, it was assumed that Harris' return to the Bears was a stopgap measure. But Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune pointed out in April that Harris could play his way into a nice extension, and now it appears he will.