Quick public service announcement before I get to my takeaways from Thursday night’s game… If you have any chicken from Kroger / Fry’s in your fridge/freezer, don’t eat it.
I didn’t know salmonella still existed, but I can assure you it does. I apologize for the delay in my takeaways article, I’ve been sick since Wednesday of last week. I watched the Bears game Thurs from my bathroom, so forgive me if I am off on a detail or two.¹
It wasn’t pretty, but the Bears snapped their two game losing streak with a 27-21 win over the hapless Giants. On offense, Jay Cutler continues to improve and play mistake free football. The Bears got solid contributions from Brandon Marshal (9-87-2), Martellus Bennett (6-68), and Matt Forte (111 total yards). Week 5’s star, Alshon Jeffery, was surprisingly quiet (1-15), but was open deep a couple of times and Cutler just missed him. The offensive line played their best game since week 1 and the play calling was a little tame, but got the job done.
Enough with the good news, the defense was awful. The Giants came into the game with one of the worst running games in the league (56.8 YPG) and ran all over the Bears to the tune of 123 yards & 4.7 per carry. It was the first game all year that Pro Football Focus gave Giants RT Justin Pugh a positive grade verse the run (2.6). After being beat-up by the rest of the league, the Giants rookie RT treated Shea McClellin like a rag-doll. That’s not a good sign for McClellin’s long-term impact at DE. Not only could the Bears D not stop the run, but they barely got any pressure on Eli Manning either. I’ll get to the gritty details below in my takeaways. At least the Bears won.
1.) Jay Cutler: His numbers don’t really convey how solid Cutler was on Thursday (24/36, 262 yd, 2 td, 106.5 QB rating). He didn’t turn the ball over, looked comfortable in the pocket, made a couple nice runs when the pocket collapsed (3-20 yards), threw the ball away when needed, and just missed a couple more big plays. That’s two games in a row that Cutler looked like a QB worthy of a long-term, big money contract. There was no need for any 4th quarter heroics, but from the way Cutler played Thursday, I am confident he would have came through if needed.
2.) DJ Williams / Jon Bostic: The worst news of the night was that the Bears suffered yet another season ending injury. MLB DJ Williams tore his pectoral muscle and is out for the rest of the season. Unlike the Bears DT situation, the Bears at least have a backup with potential ready to go. Just a month and a half ago, fans were debating whether rookie Jon Bostic did enough during the preseason to earn the starting job. He proved to be a play-maker in the preseason, but also made quite a few mistakes especially in coverage. Bostic has had 6 weeks to learn the Bears scheme from the sidelines and hopefully he’s seen enough to not be a liability on defense. I, for one, am excited to add his play-making ability to the Bears aging (and currently struggling) defense.
3.) Brandon Marshall: With Alshon Jeffery’s breakout, some of opposing defense’s attention has shifted away from Marshall which led to one of his best games of the season Thursday night (9-87-2) . Marshall had an awful drop on a 4th down play during the Bears first drive, but came back with a vengeance and didn’t drop another ball the rest of the way. Marshall’s run blocking was solid as usual, and continues to be an underrated part of his impact on the Bears offense.
4.) O-Line: That’s more like it. I know the Giants’ pass rush has been nonexistent this year, but it is still nice to see the Bears O-line control the line of scrimmage and keep Cutler clean. They didn’t give up any sacks and only allowed 2 hits on Cutler all game. The run game still wasn’t very productive, but as a whole they graded out positively (+2.8).²