Chicago Bears Week 3: Takeaways

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Forte deserves better – Everyone in the stadium knew the Bears offense would revolve around Matt Forte, but he was still able to gain 64 yards in the first half. Forte has proven that he hasn’t lost a step and may even be better this year despite turning 30 this season. He took a beating on Sunday, but kept churning for yards and the Bears offense stalled in the 2nd half when they stopped going to Forte. I’m not sure why the Bears didn’t try to throw to Forte more instead of having him slam into the center of the line, but it wouldn’t have mattered either way. With trade rumors swirling around the Bears, it’s possible that was Forte’s last game as a Bear. If so, he deserved a better send off than that, but if Forte is traded hopefully he will end up on a team with a chance for a title. Forte deserves it after all he has suffered through with the Bears.

The Bears defense played well in the first half – The halftime score was 6-0, which is better than anyone expected it would be. The only reason it was that close is that the Bears defense played surprisingly well in the first half. They got a consistent pass rush on Russell Wilson and did a good job clogging run lanes and keeping Wilson from scrambling. There were solid contributions from all levels of the Bears D, but the offense’s inability to sustain any drives eventually wore the defense down in the 2nd half. The D deserved better after an impressive first half in a tough environment against a dangerous offense. There isn’t much to be happy about after a one-sided loss, but the play of the defense in the first half gave me a glimmer of hope for the rest of the season.

The Bears front 7 showed signs of life – The Seahawks O-line has a lot of problems, but to their credit the Bears front-7 took advantage of it. After having zero sacks through the first two games, the Bears got four of them on Sunday. Even with their deficiencies on the O-line, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is one of the hardest QBs to sack in the league. Free agent acquisitions Pernell McPhee and Jarvis Jenkins had two sacks a piece and were in the backfield constantly disrupting both the run and the pass. Young D-linemen Eddie Goldman and Will Sutton also played well and with Jay Ratliff coming off suspension this week, the Bears D-line may be the strength of the defense moving forward. Considering it has been the weakest link on the Bears D the last two seasons, its pretty impressive that GM Ryan Pace has been able to turn it around so quickly. It’s only three weeks and things could go south quick, but so far the D-line has been better than expected.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

CB Alan Ball had a nice game – I stuck up for Ball after week 1 and am glad to see that I’m not crazy. Ball had gotten beat a couple times in the first two weeks, but was right there on most of the plays and just beat by excellent QB play. On Sunday Ball’s coverage wasn’t that much better than it had been earlier in the year, the QB play just wasn’t as good and he managed to deflect two consecutive red zone fades despite being 3-5 inches shorter than the man he was covering on each play. Ball hasn’t been great, but has outplayed the Bears other corners by a significant margin and may be worth keeping around long-term if he can continue to play well. In a division with multiple tall receivers, a 6’2 corner like Ball could be a valuable asset in the secondary.

CBs Sherrick McManis deserves more snaps – Long time special teams ace McManis is finally getting a chance to play on defense and proving he deserves to be out there. He got 28 snaps on Sunday, had two nice runs stops in the open field, gave up three catches but for only 15 yards total, assisted on a nice stop near the line of scrimmage to force a 4th down, and made a heads up play downing a punt while staying in bounds after the ball had clearly hit a Seahawks player. The refs somehow thought differently, but it should have been a potentially game changing play. It probably wouldn’t have mattered in the long run, but the Bears may have been able to at least put some points on the board.

McManis has good size (6’0 | 195) and plays with a physical style of play that fits what DC Vic Fangio looked for in his DBs while with the Niners. For the day McManis’ 1.5 grade from Pro Football Focus was the 3rd highest score on the Bears defense.

The Bears may want to put McManis back on Special Teams – I didn’t think it was possible for the Bears special teams unit to be worse than last year, but they found a way. For the 2nd week in a row the Bears managed to give up a kick return TD. Not only that, but both returns broke their respective franchise’s record for longest return ever. It was a 108-yard return two weeks ago for the Cardinals and a 105-yard return for the Seahawks on Sunday. Both returns were by rookies and both returners were basically untouched. This week it was Brock Vereen (more on him later), Christian Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers getting blocked out of their return lanes leaving a huge lane for Tyler Lockett to take it 105 yards for a score. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Bears also gave up a 62-yard return to Richard Sherman on a trick play that former Bears ST coach Dave Toub debuted in 2012. If not for some impressive hustle from newly signed LB Lamin Barrow, Sherman would have had a touchdown return as well. The Bears need to find some special teams players who can shed blocks and maintain lane integrity or this could happen every week.