Chicago Bears Week 14: Takeaways

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8.) Zach Miller is establishing himself as the #1 TE

No player has lost more off-season leverage this season than TE Martellus Bennett. After a very good 2014 season (90 | 916 | 6), Bennett attempted to hold out for more money and created animosity with the Bears new management team. With perhaps a similar season in 2015, Bennett may have created enough leverage to earn at least a slight raise but instead he has sulked, played half-ass football, and missed games with questionable injuries. I’m not knocking Bennett for sitting out Sunday with bruised ribs, but TE Zach Miller played with the same injury and had a solid game (5 | 85 | 1).

Over the last five weeks Miller has five TDs and has become one of Jay Cutler’s most reliable receiving options. Miller will never be the run-blocker that Bennett is, few TEs are, but he has been able to give Cutler and the Bears a legitimate receiving option at the tight end position without all the weekly headaches that Bennett causes.

With Bennett’s significant contract value next year ($6.13M), consistent locker room distractions, and a possible replacement on the roster in Zach Miller… I would be surprised if Bennett is on the Bears squad in 2016. My guess is that the Bears get a 4th-5th round pick for Bennett in the off-season and maybe use that pick on another tight end.

9.) The D-line held Redskins under 100 yards rushing

Granted they barely held the Skins under 100 yards (99), but the Bears D-line played a solid game on Sunday. I’ve already mentioned the OLBs but the Bears got solid contributions from Eddie Goldman (again), Will Sutton (welcome back), Mitch Unrein, and a few plays from Bruce Gaston and Jarvis Jenkins as well.

DC Vic Fangio perhaps gets more credit for building a solid secondary from rookies and spare parts, but he had even less talent to work with on the D-line and built a respectable run D and occasional pass rush from other team’s castoffs. It would be exciting to see what Fangio can do with more talented defensive players over the next few years.

10.) Kyle Fuller made a big play, but was inconsistent

It seemed like former DC Mel Tucker was back in town calling the defensive schemes in the first half. The Bears corners were giving Redskin receivers more cushion than I had seen since Tucker’s disastrous stint with the Bears. Outside of DeSean Jackson, the Redskins don’t have any receivers with the type of speed that would warrant a generous cushion. I don’t know what Fangio was thinking, but it didn’t work well as the Skins drove down the field for two easy scores early in the game.

Fuller did bounce back with a huge INT in the third quarter setting the Bears up for a game tying TD. It’s been an inconsistent season for Fuller with a rough first few weeks, then a strong stretch lately that seemed like he was back to his early rookie form. The way Fuller plays over the next few weeks could decide wither the Bears consider him a legitimate starting corner the next year or if it is a position they address early in next years draft.