Chicago Bears Week 5: Takeaways

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

3.) The Bears D dominated in the clutch – When the Bears failed on a 4th down conversion with 9:28 left in the game and trailing by 11, it appeared things were all but over for the Bears. Instead the defense stepped up and forced a three and out from the Chiefs. It gave the Bears the ball back with 7:51 left. The Bears drove down the field for a score, but with just 3:05 left and a five point deficit things still looked bleak. The defense stepped up again giving up only four yards on three plays and leaving 2:04 seconds on the clock for the Bears to score the game winning touchdown. On the last two defensive drives, the Bears got big plays from Sam Acho, LaRoy Reynolds, and Tracy Porter, who had struggled all game before making a great pass breakup on a third down slant attempt to Maclin. Before the Chiefs desperation drive in the last 18 seconds of the game, the Bears D held the Chiefs to just 10 yards on 9 plays in the 4th quarter. It was a dominant 4th quarter performance from the defense which kept the Bears alive and gave Jay Cutler the opportunity to win the game.

4.) Kyle Long neutralized All-Pro OLB Justin Houston – Most of the Bears O-line struggled on Sunday and it would have been understandable if Long did as well facing off against Justin Houston who had 22 sacks last year. Instead Long not only held his own, but dominated Houston at times holding him without a sack and only two tackles on the day. Considering it was just Long’s 5th start at right tackle it was a pretty awesome performance. Long has improved significantly in just five weeks and if he continues to play like he did Sunday than he will make his 3rd consecutive Pro Bowl.

5.) Hroniss Grasu struggled for most of the game, but was good enough when it mattered – On Jay Cutler’s fumble in his own end zone, it was the rookie Grasu who gave up the pressure. He was overpowered for most of the first half, but settled down in the 2nd and played well enough on the Bears last drive to keep Cutler clean. Overall it was a bad first start for Grasu, but lining up against a beast like Dontari Poe in a loud road environment is a challenging assignment even for veteran centers. Grasu did show some signs of competence in the second half and maybe Sunday’s mistakes will be a learning experience that speeds up his development. I’m probably being overly optimistic, but feeling good after a surprising Bears win.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

6.) Pernell McPhee was worth the money – He not only had a sack on Sunday but also blocked a field goal and was a consistent presence in the Chiefs backfield. McPhee could have had a 2nd sack when he forced a hold after beating the tackle and almost getting to Alex Smith. Every week McPhee makes a few big plays for the Bears defense and he’s become a leader in the locker room as well. The Bears defense has improved significantly from last season and McPhee is a big reason why. It’s rare that any Bears free agent move works out, but so far McPhee has earned his big contract and then some.

7.) Shea McClellin needs to be benched – Is it just a coincidence that the Bears defense didn’t give up another point after McClellin left the field with an injury? It probably is, but McClellin was beat in coverage multiple times by running backs, tight ends, slot receivers… basically whoever he tried to cover. After Jamal Charles embarrassed McClellin in coverage and then in the open field, it was almost a mercy that he got hurt and sat out the rest of the game. His replacement LaRoy Reynolds made more plays in a quarter and a half than McClellin did all game (or all year really). It’s time to end the ILB experiment and gives either Reynolds or Lamin Barrow a chance to play. They can’t be any less effective than McClellin has been this season.

8.) Bears back up LBs, Sam Acho and LaRoy Reynolds, made some key plays on Sunday – OLB Sam Acho led the Bears with six tackles, made an athletic play to stop a screen for no gain, had a few nice stops against the run, and made a nice play in coverage to break up a pass to a WR. With the recent trade of Jared Allen, Acho should see significant snaps the rest of the year. He earned them on Sunday.

Starting ILB Shea McClellin struggled (see above) and then got hurt, but his replacement LaRoy Reynolds, who the Bears signed two weeks ago, made a couple of impact plays after taking over. Reynolds forced Alex Smith to throw the ball away on a delayed blitz and also had a tackle for loss in the backfield on a key defensive possession after the Bears failed on a 4th down conversion late in the game. The Bears D shut the Chiefs out in the second half and Reynolds played a big part in the overall effort. Reynolds contributions were even more impressive considering Sunday was the first time in his career that he played in a 3-4 alignment.