Chicago Bears Week 9: Takeaways

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9.) Congrats to Zach Miller

The oft-injured tight end caught his first TD pass since 2011. It was a highlight reel grab and also the game-winner. Injuries have kept Miller off the field the last three seasons, but he has earned an important role as the Bears #2 TE. Miller’s skill-set is better suited as a receiver than a blocker, but he had a key block on Langford’s 2-point conversion.

10.) At the midway point of the season, the Bears have a top 10 defense (in yards allowed per game).

Despite being lit up by Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer to start the season, the Bears defense now ranks 9th in the NFL in yards allowed per game. They are still near the bottom in points allowed, but that number is inflated by three return TDs and a couple of pick-6s.

The Bears are only allowing 341 yards per game which is a significant improvement from last year when they ranked 30th in the league (377). The Bears are still searching for the right mix of players on defense and also integrating as many as five rookies at a time on the field, so there is still plenty of room for improvement. Both the pass rush and coverage in the secondary have been non-existent at times, but the Bears are moving in the right direction and I honesty didn’t expect to see them in the top 10 in any defensive categories this season.

11.) Bears need to improve underneath coverage

While the defense played well for the most part, they continue to struggle with short passes in the flat and over the middle. The Bears LBs are all fairly young and still learning a new scheme, but for the 2nd week in a row they were picked apart on short routes. Both Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead had six catches and moved the chains consistently. The Bears don’t blitz often and seem to drop more than enough players in coverage, but the linebackers and safeties need to do a better job anticipating short routes and covering RBs and TEs.

12.) Special Teams didn’t give up a TD return

Yay.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

13.) Bears fans traveled well

It sounded like a Bears home game at times in San Diego on Monday night. There was even one play where Cutler motioned to quiet down the crowd, which you just don’t see from road team QBs. Well done Bear fans!