NFC North: Free Head Exam 12
November, 29, 2010
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
After the Chicago Bears' 31-26 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, here are three issues that merit further examination:
- Hooray to whoever convinced offensive coordinator Mike Martz to re-balance his offense and keep it that way. Sunday, the Bears once again kept an opposing defense honest with enough use of their running game. Bears tailbacks Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined to carry on 20 of the team's offensive snaps. (Devin Hester had one run and quarterback Jay Cutler scrambled seven times.) I don't care that Taylor finished with -3 yards. Forte's 61-yard run in the first quarter surely caught the Eagles' attention, and thereafter Cutler had a field day with play-action passes. Three of his four touchdown passes came after a fake to a back, notes ESPN Stats & Information. That's why you don't ignore the run game.
- The Bears benefited from the absence of Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel. Before Sunday, the Eagles had not given up a touchdown to the right side, where Samuel typically lines up. ESPN Stats & Information reports that Eagles opponents were completing 47.5 percent of their passes with three interceptions in that direction over that stretch. With Samuel sidelined by a knee injury Sunday, however, the Bears completed 71.4 percent of their passes to the right side, including three of their touchdowns. Take that for what you will.
- The Bears defense did exactly what the Tampa 2 is designed to do: Discourage opposing quarterbacks from taking deep shots down the field. Vick's desperation 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brent Celek, a pass that middle linebacker Brian Urlacher nearly batted down, was the Eagles' longest play of the game. For the most part, the Bears kept the Eagles offense in front of them. Entering Sunday, 34 percent of Vick's attempts had traveled at least 11 yards in the air. Sunday, according to ESPN's Stats & Information, that figure was 27 percent.
Kevin SeifertThe Chicago Bears take their turn in the examination room after beating Philadelphia.
Since joining the Bears last season, Cutler has thrown at least four touchdown passes in three games and four interceptions in three others. Are those numbers simple by-products of each other? Are they the unavoidable epitome of a high-risk, high-reward gunslinger mentality? Or is Cutler simply that inconsistent? The answer is probably both. Whenever we suggest Cutler has turned a corner, either toward consistently fewer mistakes or complete Armageddon, he produces a game that reverses the trend. I'm inclined to believe that Sunday was a "Good Jay" day and that some "Bad Jay" days loom somewhere on the horizon, but no one can know for sure.
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