NFC North: Free Head Exam 10
November, 15, 2010
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
After the Chicago Bears' 27-13 victory Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, here are three issues that merit further examination:
- Greed and gluttony are now the only obstacles to the Bears finding a happy and highly productive medium for kick returner/receiver Devin Hester. And yes, the order of those positions is intentional. Hester told reporters Sunday that he has returned his focus to his role as a return man who also plays receiver, as opposed to the other way around. It makes sense for the Bears to maximize Hester's special teams touches and find places for him to help on offense. They need to accept that Hester can help the offense more via special teams than he can as a full-time receiver. Sunday, his returns gave the Bears an average drive start of the Vikings' 44-yard line.
- Some players are fortunate to be in the proverbial right place at the right time, but nickel back D.J. Moore has advanced beyond that point. I think it's now fair to say he has a nose for the ball. His interception of a tipped pass Sunday was his fourth of the season, and Vikings receiver Percy Harvin's shoe-string tackle was all that stopped Moore from scoring his second touchdown. Amid all of the well-deserved criticism of the Bears' recent drafts, we should acknowledge that Moore -- a fourth-round pick in 2009 -- was a pretty decent find.
- As the Bears continue to use a three-man safety rotation, it's worth noting that veteran Chris Harris blew a coverage on the Vikings' only touchdown. Bears cornerback Tim Jennings had the first shot at Harvin, but Harris was supposed to take him if Harvin went deep. Harris, however, took a few steps inside and that was all Harvin needed to get alone on the right sideline for a 53-yard touchdown. I don't think the play will cost Harris his job, but both he and Danieal Manning should be on alert. Rookie Major Wright is healthy and the Bears are eager to get him on the field.
Kevin SeifertFollowing their win against Minnesota, the Bears take their turn in the examination room.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had his best success Sunday, and throughout the season, while throwing over the middle. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he entered Sunday's game with a 112.7 passer rating on throws between the hashmarks, good for No. 2 in the NFL. Against the Vikings, Cutler completed five of the six passes he threw in that circumstance, including all three of his touchdowns. I'm not sure I have an explanation for why he's been more successful down the middle than he has been to the outside. It could be a function of Mike Martz's offense, as well as the presence of tight end Greg Olsen. But it will be worth noting if the trend continues during the playoff push.