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Monday, November 23, 2009
Third and one: Bears

By Kevin Seifert

After Chicago’s 24-20 loss to Philadelphia, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. I knew I recognized Kahlil Bell’s name from an NFC North perspective. But I couldn’t remember how until a media friend filled one of the many gaps in my head. Bell played at UCLA, where he caught the eye of Minnesota running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, a former Bruins assistant. The Vikings brought Bell to training camp but waived him Aug. 16. In his first game for the Bears on Sunday night, Bell produced the team’s longest run in its past 9,004 carries, according to Elias Sports Bureau, dating back to 1989. I don’t think Bell is a long-term answer for the Bears, but it sure would be nice if he afforded them another backfield option while starter Matt Forte continues to struggle.
  2. Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson split safeties Al Afalava and Danieal Manning for his 48-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. I know it looked like Afalava got beat, but I wouldn’t put him any higher than third on the list of blame for that play. First of all, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had far too much time waiting for Jackson to break free. McNabb took three sacks in the game but the Bears were nowhere close to him on that play. Second, I blame any scheme that leaves two safeties to cover Jackson. He’s too fast for either Manning or Afalava. I can’t diss Afalava for one of the NFL’s fastest players having enough time to run past him.
  3. Sometimes it's inevitable to adopt the opinions of broadcasters when you watch a game on television, but one thing NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said is still resonating with me. Quarterback Jay Cutler’s mechanics look totally out of whack. He threw some passes while backpedaling. He threw a few others from his toes, including the fourth-quarter overthrow of receiver Johnny Knox. He rarely stepped into his passes. I know this isn’t a new thing for Cutler, and I realize his arm can generally compensate for those oversights. But when you’re as inaccurate as Cutler was Sunday night, it’s fair to inspect such mundane details. He looks like he needs a mechanics boot camp with a mentor he trusts. (Mike Shanahan is available, I believe.)
And here is one question I’m still asking:

How many times will the Bears run a screen to Devin Hester before they realize opponents are all over it? We get it. Hester is a playmaker who just needs the ball in his hands. And even if it only nets 4 or 5 yards, it’s better than the average play the Bears’ running game is producing. But neither Hester nor anyone else can escape three defensive players who pounce on this tired play. On Sunday, Hester managed 2 yards on three bubble screens. Isn’t it time to lay off that one for a few weeks?