Chicago Bears Week 12: Takeaways

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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

10.) Langford with two more drops 

The Bears rookie RB had a nice game on the ground with 48 yards on 12 carries (4.0 YPC) on a night when the Bears struggled to run the ball with Forte. Langford got almost as many carries as Forte (15) and was a big part of the Bears rushing plan, but Langford also dropped two passes on Thursday night.

We all remember his big drop on a late 3rd down verse the Vikings which ultimately cost the Bears the game and Langford had two more drops against the Packers. On a 3rd & short late in the first quarter, Cutler hit Langford right in the chest with a short pass but he dropped it. Langford was already over the first down marker and had a ton of room to run after the catch. Then in the 2nd half he bobbled a screen pass and flipped it up in the air, almost allowing a GB defender to pick it off.

Langford has been impressive with the ball in his hands, but he’s not quite Matt Forte yet. He had the drop against the Vikings, failed to see a hole on the failed 2-point conversion against the Broncos, and then had two drops against the Packers. He’s got a long way to go before he’s at Matt Forte’s level and the Bears should think really hard about bringing Forte back for at least one more year.

11.) Penalties almost lost this one for the Bears

After just four penalties total in their last two games, the Bears went back to their Trestman era discipline with 12 penalties for 95 total yards. Not all 12 of those were legitimate. There were some bad calls on both sides, but the Bears got the worst of it.

There was a phantom call on Tracy Porter that led to the Packers only TD of the night, a tripping call on Matt Slauson that was all but impossible to be on purpose, and a PI call on Adrian Amos on a completely uncatchable pass.

All three penalties were terrible calls and really hurt the Bears chance of victory. It’s not surprising that on Brett Favre night the Packers got some calls, but it is a surprise that the Bears were able to win anyway.

12.) Brett Favre ceremony was pretty cool

It seemed to fire up plenty of Bear players that the Packers picked this game for the Favre ceremony, and they certainly did their best to ruin things for Favre and the Pack. That being said, it was pretty cool to see Favre being honored by his peers, the fans and Packer legends.

I’m not going to win many fans by writing this, but if Favre played for the Bears he probably would have been my 2nd favorite athlete of all time (Jordan #1). I just appreciate the way Favre played football, his gunslinger mentality and how much fun he had while playing were easy to root for from a fan who rarely ever had a decent QB on his home squad. Even though Favre played on the Bears biggest rival… His talent, guts, toughness, and love for the game were impossible not to respect.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

13.)  Zach Miller with 4 TDs in last 4 games

Martellus Bennett better get healthy soon because Zach Miller is crushing Bennett’s negotiating leverage this off-season. Miller scored his 4th TD in the last four games and is becoming an integral part of the Bears offense. Miller is not the blocker that Bennett is, but may be a more explosive receiver and certainly is more consistent game to game.

Bennett has been playing like something is bothering him the last few weeks. I’m not sure what it is (probably his contract), but with the Bears in playoff contention in December, they need Bennett to get his head out of his *ss and start playing up to his potential. Bennett’s inevitable contract holdout will go better if he can finish strong this season and will also boost his trade value.

14.) Hroniss Grasu is hurting the Bears run game

It was bad enough that Grasu was in pass pro on the 2-point conversion run attempt last week, but he struggled again on Thursday night. The Bears couldn’t get anything done in the run game with only 3.3 yards per attempt and they have averaged less than 4 ypc in Grasu’s last two starts. The Bears have averaged over 4 ypc with either Will Montgomery or Matt Slauson at center.

Grasu was just overpowered by Packers interior linemen and couldn’t get any push in the run game. To make matters worse, Grasu had a holding call on the Bears last drive that pushed them out of first down range and gave the Packers the ball back with a chance to win the game.

Despite the fact that Grasu had played like a bust so far this year, I’m not ready to give up on this year’s 3rd round pick quite yet. Grasu is an above-average athlete and by all accounts very smart, he’s just not strong enough to deal with NFL DTs yet. Give Grasu an off-season in the weight room and see what he can do next season before you write Grasu off. He wasn’t expected to start this season and needs a little more time to develop.

15.) Marc Mariani made some key contributions as a wide receiver

I’ve been critical of Mariani’s ability as a kick and punt returner and rightfully so in my opinion. He’s dropped three punts and a kick in four weeks and has been replaced by Deonte Thompson as the Bears primary kick returner. With the season-long injury issues of Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, the Bears have been relying on receivers who weren’t expected to contribute much this year and Mariani stepped up as a WR on Thursday night.

For the game, Mariani had just three catches for 35 yards but all three went for first downs. His most impressive catch was on a late game third & short where Marini caught the ball a couple yards short of the first down mark with two defenders in front of him but barrelled through them both to gain enough for a key first down. I’ve been questioning whether Mariani belongs on the roster this year, but he answered my questions this week.

16.) Coaching matters

I’ve always thought NFL coaches were overrated, but after seeing the difference in the way the Bears gameplan, make halftime adjustments, play with discipline, and respond to adversity under John Fox, I am starting to reconsider. The Bears to a man seem to have a better attitude this season.

There isn’t the bickering on the field, dumb penalties, lack of half-time adjustments, and overall bad body language when things go wrong. I’m not just talking about Jay Cutler either, the whole team is playing smarter, more aggressive, and with a much better mindset in general.

With John Fox, Vic Fangio, and Adam Gase the Bears have put together a coaching staff that has won games at the highest level and know what it takes to win in the NFL. I didn’t mention any of the assistants there, but OL coach Dave Magazu, DL coach Jay Rodgers, WR coach Mike Groh, and QB coach Dowell Loggains all deserve credit for the work they have done with their position groups this season.

For once the Bears have the leadership in place to maximize their potential and win games they shouldn’t on paper. Enjoy it while it lasts Bear fans!