Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Stock Watch: Pass rush makes an impact
By Jeff Dickerson
Julius Peppers had his best game of the season with 11 tackles, 2.0 sacks and four tackles-for-loss.
1. David Bass, DE: A seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2013 out of Missouri Western State who was claimed by the Bears off waivers, Bass made the biggest play of his young professional career on Sunday, intercepting a Joe Flacco pass at the line of scrimmage and returning it 14 yards for a touchdown. Bass' pick-six changed the momentum of the game, and without it, the Bears likely don't crawl out of the 10-0 hole they dug for themselves before Sunday's lengthy weather delay. At 6-foot-4, 256 pounds, Bass isn't built like a prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but he's shown promise this season in six appearances. In addition to the interception, Bass finished the Baltimore game with four tackles and one tackle-for-loss. Expect Bass to keep himself in the mix at defensive end, especially with Shea McClellin dealing with a hamstring injury.
2. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers easily had his most productive game of the year with a season-high 11 tackles, 2.0 sacks and four tackles-for-loss in the 23-20 victory against Ravens. This proves that Peppers, 33, can still be a difference-maker. But these kinds of efforts from Peppers have been few and far between in 2013. Can the veteran defensive end string a bunch of these games together down the stretch as the Bears push for a postseason berth? The answer to that question is unknown. But with three sacks over the past three games, Peppers seems to be heating up at the right time for a Bears' defense ravaged by injuries.
3. Robbie Gould, K: Gould's candid and confident demeanor can rub certain people in Chicago the wrong way, but his on-field results are indisputable. Gould was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts on Sunday, this despite horrendous weather conditions at Soldier Field. But Gould has made a living navigating the treacherous winds of Chicago, and is 19-of-20 for the season. The most accurate kicker in franchise history and one of the most accurate in league history, Gould has now kicked 11 game-winning field goals with six of those in overtime.
4. Josh McCown, QB: All McCown does is win games and run the offense. Whenever a quarterback protects the ball and doesn't turn it over, his team has a shot to win every week. McCown's 2013 numbers are remarkable: 61-of-101 passes completed for 754 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. That's a 100.0 quarterback rating. Even if the good times don't last much longer for McCown, this has been one of the most unexpected and enjoyable stories that I've covered in quite some time. McCown always wins the news conference with his genuine, kind, intelligent and humble personality, but now he's winning important games for the Bears. McCown is 2-0. He runs the offense the correct way. There is no need for Jay Cutler to rush back from his high-ankle sprain. None.
1. Landon Cohen, DT: The Ravens were averaging 73 rushing yards per game entering Week 10, but Baltimore had plenty of success on the ground against the Bears. Ray Rice ran for 131 yards and one touchdown, and Baltimore finished the game with 174 rushing yards on 41 attempts. Baltimore found much of the running room up the gut of the Bears' defense, where Cohen played 59 snaps because nose tackle Stephen Paea (19 snaps) left the game early with a toe injury. Cohen hasn't been a bad addition, but Sunday wasn't his finest moment.
2. Brandon Marshall, WR: Marshall has been great for the Bears with a team-high 64 receptions for 828 yards and eight touchdowns, but he caught just four passes for 42 yards on 10 targets against the Ravens. Marshall more than carries his weight on offense, but he will occasionally drop catchable balls, as he did on Sunday when the wideout let a perfectly thrown pass from McCown slip through his fingers. In the rare instances when Marshall has been a non-factor for the Bears, he usually responds the following week by putting up big numbers. The smart money says Marshall finds the end zone multiple times in Week 12 when the Bears travel to St. Louis, and finishes the game as the club's leading receiver. History has shown us that Marshall generally finds a way to bounce back, regardless of the quarterback.