Alshon Jeffery: 10 catches for a Bears record 218 yards and a touchdown. This was a legit breakout game for Alshon. The Saints focused on stopping Marshall and Bennett and Jeffery stepped up. Moving forward, the Bears have 3 legitimate receiving options for the first time I can remember.
Lance Briggs: A mixed bag Sunday for Briggs. On one hand, he was all over the field making big stops both in the backfield (3 TFLs) and on the Saints short-passing game (14 tackles overall). Briggs had three crucial 3rd down tackles where he stopped the Saints player within a yard of the 1st down line. It was a signature game from the Bears defensive captain until his inexcusable off-sides penalty on a 4 & 1 when everyone in the stadium expected a hard count from Brees. That was a rookie mistake and cost the Bears a chance to get the ball back a few minutes before they did and really sealed the game for the Saints.
Run D: The Bears run defense was excellent Sunday, holding the Saints to 66 total yards on 28 carries (2.4 YPC). All three linebackers played well with 33 total tackles between the three starters. They did a good job on Darren Sproles out of the backfield, limiting him to 31 yards on 3 catches. To put that in perspective, Sproles had 7 catches for 114 yards and TD in week 4 against Miami. I would have liked to see an occasional blitz from the LBs to put some pressure on Brees, but that’s on the coaches.
Bears Safeties: As good as the LBs were, the safeties were terrible. Both were burned in coverage quite a few times, missed tackles on multiple occasions, and played like they had never seen a screen pass before. At this point in the season I think it’s safe to say that the Bears safeties are below league average. It’s year 4 for Major Wright and year 3 for Chris Conte. This is when they are supposed to be blossoming as players and unfortunately for the Bears they seem to be regressing. Conte’s day could have been even worse; He got away with a blatant PI in the end zone that would of given the Saints the ball at the 1 yard line. The safety position needs to be a priority in either the draft or free agency next year. Just an idea, the Bills have made all-pro safety Jarius Byrd available for the right price. Maybe they would take a 3rd round pick and Earl Bennett.
Injuries: The Bears lost DT Nate Collins for the season with a torn ACL. It came shortly after Collins’ first sack of the year and leaves the Bears dangerously thin at DT with all-pro Henry Melton already out for the year. Opening day starter Stephen Paea missed Sunday’s game with a sprained toe and is questionable for Thursday night’s game. If he can’t go, that will leave newly signed Landon Cohen and rookie Zach Minter as the only two DTs on the Bears roster. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t worry me.