Boomer is on vacation this weekend so I will be taking over this week’s winners and losers. It’s hard to call anyone a winner after a 34-6 loss but as I mentioned in my game recap there were a surprising amount of positives despite the lopsided score. Here is a break down of who helped and hurt the Bears this week:
Jay Cutler: – Playing the defending NFL champs on their home field and facing supposedly one of the best secondaries of all-time, Cutler was a solid 12-20 for 157 but his stats should have been much better. Alshon Jeffery dropped a long TD pass, a TD was wiped out due to a garbage offensive PI penalty and there were a couple of other catches that should have been made. Of his 20 passes only 3 were bad. Considering the circumstances that is a heck of game for Cutler and he continues to look like a better QB then we have seen since he joined the Bears.
Starting O-Line (everyone but Michael Ola): The Seahawks have had one of the most dominant D-lines in the league the last two seasons, but the Bears pass blockers kept them at bay. Cutler was sacked twice, but one was given up by rookie RT Michael Ola and the other on a missed blitz pickup by rookie Ka’Deem Carey. The Bears didn’t run the ball much since they were down big early, but they gave Cutler enough time to throw more often than not.
D-Line: Lamarr Houston had 5 QB hurries in the first half (!) and almost had three sacks on the day, but Russell Wilson managed to escape every time and usually complete a pass for another first down. I’m sure it was a frustrating day for Houston, but few QBs are going to be able to get away from the pressure Houston provided Friday night and it is a good sign for the future of our pass rush. Willie Young did manage to catch Wilson for a sack and played strong against the run as well. Stephen Paea might have had his best game as a Bear (2.3 grade), while Ratliff had a crucial offsides penalty and missed a couple of tackles but managed to get some pressure up the middle. Compared to the D-line play last year, last night’s performance was a masterpiece. The Bears still have some problems on defense, but the D-line is no longer the most glaring issue.
Josh Morgan: Led the Bears in receiving yards for the 2nd consecutive game with 3 catches for 48 yards. Morgan caught 3 of the 5 balls that came his way and made a couple of nice adjustments. He dropped a catchable pass and failed to make an adjustment to the red zone pass from Cutler that ended up being picked off, but hopefully that doesn’t hurt Jay’s confidence in Morgan moving forward.
Shea McClellin: The best of the worst on Friday. The Bears LB core had a rough game, but I thought McClellin did some nice things against the run for the 2nd week in a row. He also stayed home on 2 rollouts and got two pressures and a hit on Wilson. I’m still not sold yet on McClellin as the starting strong-side OLB but he has shown legit improvement the last two games.
Will Sutton / Ego Ferguson: The Bears rookie DT combo had a strong game in the 2nd half Friday. The Bears held the Seahawks to just 3 points in the 2nd half and these two DTs did a good job shutting down the middle of the field. They each had one nice QB pressure, a couple of good hustle plays, and a few stops against the run. Neither guy is pushing for a starting job, but both are proving they can hold their own if called on this season.
Austen Lane: After two lackluster performances and with his roster spot on the line, Lane stepped up big time in the 2nd half on Friday. He seems to be involved in every play and had a sack, multiple QB pressures, a couple QB hits and 2 nice tackles near the line of scrimmage. It’s been a heated battle for the last two DE spots between Taylor Scott, Lane, Cornelius Washington and David Bass and they all played pretty well again on Friday, but Lane stood out.
Dennis Roland – The massive RT (6’9, 325) had a very solid 2nd half on Friday. He neutralized the pass rush off the edge, including a series against Seattle’s #1 D-line and got a consistent push in the run game. Roland is an established NFL veteran with x starts for the Bengals, who might be the Bears best bet at RT if Mills isn’t ready to go by week 1. For more on Roland check out my take here.
Sherrick McManis – Has had a better preseason than any DB on the team. McManis has been getting time with the 1st team defense and made the most of it. He broke up a deep pass in then end zone with text-book coverage and was solid in coverage most of the night. McManis has out played #4 CB Kelvin Hayden all preseason and it will be interesting to see if the ends up taking his job.