Chicago Bears Week 11: Takeaways

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 Takeaways:

1.) Jay Cutler wasn’t perfect but played good enough to win despite missing top weapons

The Bears were missing Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, and Eddie Royal, arguably their three most explosive play-makers, but Cutler was still able to generate 347 total yards against the #1 defense in the NFL which has allowed an average of just 277 yards per game against the rest of the league.

Cutler routinely scrambled away from pressure and found open receivers to move the chains. The Bears running game struggled with just 86 total yards, leaving everything on Cutler. He wasn’t great, there were a handful of incomplete passes that could have been big plays if Cutler would have led his receiver just a little more, but considering how little receiving talent Cutler was working with he played a heck of a game.

Then in the 4th quarter, when the game was on the line, Cutler drove the Bears inside the ten-yard line on the Bears last two drives. One resulted in a TD which could have been a game-winner if the Bears had taken three points on the previous drive…

As I mentioned above, Cutler wasn’t perfect today. He failed to lead a couple receivers, he under-threw a couple of wide open deep receivers that resulted in big plays instead of TDs, threw a bad interception and lost another fumble on a great play by Von Miller. Despite his mistakes today, Cutler was playing against the best defense in football and did enough for the Bears to win this one.

2.) Kyle Long played his best game as a right tackle

Long spent Sunday’s game lined up against three-time Pro-Bowl OLB Von Miller and neutralized him for most of the game. Miller had just three tackles on the day and his one strip-sack came against left tackle Charles Leno Jr. After the game Miller spoke highly of both Long and Leno.

On Long: “He is one of the most athletic linemen in the National Football League so I knew coming into the game, I knew he was going to be solid. He’s been solid at right tackle. He’s super athletic. Kyle is on a whole other level athletic-wise.”

On Leno Jr: “He’s a good young player.”

At times Leno played better than he has all season, but Long was more consistent and borderline dominant against one of the best pass rushers in football. The transition to right tackle hasn’t been as smooth or easy as some fans thought it would be for Long, but he’s starting to flash Pro Bowl level skill at his new position.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

3.) Marquess Wilson and Josh Bellamy stepped up

With the Bears missing their two top WRs and facing one of the best secondaries in the NFL with Pro Bowlers Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and last year’s 1st round pick Bradley Roby, this looked like a severe mismatch on paper. The Bears were starting 7th round pick Marquess Wilson and undrafted Josh Bellamy, but they combined for 8 catches and 158 yards.

Wilson (4-102) averaged over 25 yards per catch and Bellamy caught 4 of the 5 balls thrown his way for 57 yards. Both players have shown enough this season in limited snaps to be in the mix for bigger roles next seasons.

4.) Martellus Bennett’s stock continues to drop

With the Bears top offensive weapons out of the game, they needed Martellus Bennett to step up but for the third time in the last four weeks Bennett was a disappointment. After a career season in 2014, Bennett has been so inconsistent this year that he is losing contract leverage in his inevitable holdout this off-season.

In his defense Bennett did draw three pass interference calls in the 2nd half of the game but dropped a few catchable balls, missed blocks in the running game, and only had 2 catches for 26 yards despite 6 targets. Bennett has as much talent as any tight end in the NFL, but is a head case and you never know if he’s going to show up ready to play on Sunday. With the emergence of Zach Miller and the Bears front office looking to add high-character players, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears trade Bennett this off-season.

5.) Willie Young has adjusted to the 3-4 scheme

Young was the Bears best pass rusher last season with 10 sacks but the switch to a 3-4 alignment seemingly left Young without a position this year in the Bears new scheme and he was mentioned in multiple trade rumors. His ACL injury late last season may have been all that kept Young with the Bears this off-season, but he’s starting to play like he did last season despite being a hybrid DE/OLB.

Young was the Bears best pass rusher Sunday with 1.5 sacks, multiple QB pressures, and a key contain on the Broncos last offensive play that got the Bears the ball back. The improved play of Young and fellow OLB Lamarr Houston across from Pernell McPhee has made the Bears defense significantly better and helped boost them from one of the worst units in the league to the 13th best defense in total yards allowed so far this season.

Next: More Takeaways