Chicago Bears Week 3: Takeaways
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6.) Can Martellus Bennett keep this up?
Over weeks 1-3 since 2012, Bennett has 10 TDs; that is 10 TDs in 9 games! Over the other 26 games in the 2012 & 2103 seasons Bennett has 4 TDs total. He is a notorious fast starter and then has had the tendency to disappear as the season goes on. Last year it was nagging injuries that kept Bennett in and out of the lineup. As of now he appears to be healthy and has been a dangerous weapon in the passing game. Cutler has looked for him often (26 targets) and if he stays healthy and keeps getting open this could be the first year of his career where he puts together a Pro Bowl caliber season. His track record worries me a little, but he is only 27 and we could be witnessing his breakout season.
7.) Special teams were a little better, but still suck
At least the special teams unit came through with a big play for the first time all season when rookie safety Ahmad Dixon recovered a muffed punt at the Jets 40 yard line and set the Bears up for their first offensive TD. Besides that one huge play, it was more of the same garbage. They almost allowed another punt to be blocked, they are still averaging a paltry 21 yards per kick return, they negated a 28-yard punt return by Santonio Holmes with a holding penalty on Christian Jones, O’Donnell had a punt that didn’t make it out of Bears territory, and on that same punt newly acquired special teams “ace” Terrell Manning had the dumbest penalty of the night when he blatantly ran into the punt returner despite a fair catch signal right in front of him. The bad punt and penalty gave the Jets the ball at the Bears 29-yard line. Outside of the Dixon fumble recovery, it was ugly as usual. The Bears need to fix this ASAP before it loses them a game(s).
8.) The rookie DTs are making an impact
With starting DT Jeremiah Ratliff out with a concussion, rookie DT Will Sutton played just under 75% of the defensive snaps (55/75) and did what he was drafted to do, get pressure on the QB. Sutton was only credited with 2 QB pressures (PFF), but there were 3 other plays I saw that were borderline and he also just a missed his first NFL sack. Sutton looks like the player he was at ASU in 2012 when he would have been a top 15 pick had he entered the draft and he should be a key member of the DT rotation regardless of Ratliff’s health. Ferguson only got 20 snaps but has looked better every week and got his first NFL sack. The rookie DTs played their best in the red zone where the Bears limited the Jets to just 1 TD on 6 red zone appearances. With veteran DT Stephen Paea playing better this week and Ratliff possibly back next week, the Bears DT rotation could end up being the strength of the defense. That is an amazing turn around from last year when it was the defense’s weakest point and GM Phil Emery deserves some credit for the quick fix.
9.) Despite a ton of injuries, the Bears secondary is playing well.
Most of the credit deserves to go to rookie Kyle Fuller who is playing like a seasoned vet and leading the team in both interceptions and forced fumbles, but veterans Tim Jennings, Ryan Mundy, and even Danny McCray played their best games of the season on Monday night as well. The Jets don’t have much (any?) talent at WR, but the Bears did a good job in coverage and limited the Jets to just two big plays. Mundy had the big pick 6, Fuller had an interception and 2 forced fumbles, rookie Ahmad Dixon had a big hit in his first (and only) defensive snap with the Bears, and Brock Vereen sealed the win with solid coverage on the Jets 4th down end zone attempt. With injuries to both Mundy and Conte, guys like McCray, Vereen, and Dixon will need to step up next week against Aaron Rodgers and the potent Packers passing attack. On the downside, recently re-signed Isaiah Frey was burned repeatedly and I’m hoping that promising 2nd-year corner Demontre Hurst gets a chance to play instead of Frey next week.
10.) Jon Bostic made a case for the starting strong-side OLB job
The play that stands out was his twice-bobbled, then dropped interception that would have sealed the win for the Bears, but before that Bostic played one of the best games of his young career. According to Bostic he only played the strong-side OLB position for 1 day in training camp, so he basically had no experience at the position before Monday night. I think the Bears may have finally found the right fit for Bostic’s talents. He led the team with 13 total tackles and brought speed, athleticism, and some hard-hitting to the position that we haven’t seen from previous starter Shea McClellin. McClellin is a better pass rusher than Bostic, but not great against the run which is a bigger problem for the Bears D. I know a player isn’t supposed to lose his job due to injury, but if Bostic keeps playing well in McClellin’s absence and the run D continues to improve, then I think the Bears need to at least consider Bostic as an option in the starting lineup at OLB.