Chicago Bears Week 16: Takeaways

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

10) I was impressed with Jameis Winston

For a rookie QB I thought Winston showed excellent poise in the pocket, had a couple of long plays that just missed, and showed more mobility escaping pressure then I expected from a guy not known for his quickness. He did a good job keeping plays alive and put his 50-yard TD pass to Charles Sims where only his guy could get it while rolling to his left. He did make one big mistake throwing a ball off his back foot in the red zone that resulted in a Bears interception, but overall I was impressed and think Winston has a bright future in the league.

11.) I wish Chris Conte would have played

Former Bears safety Major Wright missed an open field tackle on a 16-yard Forte run and was burned on a double-move by TE Zach Miller, so not much has changed for Wright since his time with the Bears.  I would have liked to see fellow former Bear safety Chris Conte out there as well because I’m sure there would have been at least one blown coverage or missed tackle by Conte that would have benefited the Bears. I’m sure Bucs fans were just as sad that McClellin didn’t play for the Bears.

12.) Marc Mariani has become one of the Bears most clutch receivers

He only has 15 catches on the season but 14 of Mariani’s catches have gone for first downs including his 25-yard catch on Sunday. He also caught a short screen pass in the first half that he ran for a first down, but it was called back due to Vlad Ducasse’s weekly holding call.

Mariani has unexpectedly become one of the Bears most reliable receivers in the clutch and has done enough to earn a spot on the final-53 next season even if he isn’t the most explosive/reliable punt returner out there.

13.) Good as Gould

It was refreshing to see Robbie Gould nail all four of his field goal attempts after struggling lately. Two of them were chip shots (26, 27) but his two 4th quarter field goals were both clutch and more difficult (50,39).

The Bears have brought in almost twenty players for tryouts the last two weeks to evaluate for futures contracts next year. It’s worth noting that not one of those players trying out was a kicker, which could be seen as a sign that the Bears new management hasn’t lost any faith in Gould and won’t be looking for a replacement despite his hefty salary for a kicker next year ($4.1M).

For the most part the special teams unit played well except for one crucial mistake allowing a blocked punt on their 2nd drive of the game. It gave the Bucs the ball on the 4-yard line and led to a Doug Martin TD one play later. The blocked punt was the result of a badly missed block by reserve LB LaRoy Reynolds.

I’ve thought Reynolds has shown some flashes of ability on defense this year with an explosive burst, enough speed to cover backs and tight ends, a knack for timing blitzes well, and the willingness to hit… but coach Fox has been ruthless with special teams mistakes.

When Bryce Callahan missed a tackle on a week two TD return by David Johnson, Callahan was banished to the practice squad for five weeks. When John Timu missed a tackle on a Tyler Lockett TD return the next week, Timu was sent to the practice squad a week later. I don’t like Reynolds chances of sticking around this week…