Chicago Bears Week 17: Takeaways

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

4.) Hopefully that isn’t the last time Matt Forte wears a Bears jersey, but at least he went out on a high note if it is

Forte had 110 total yards and a sweet 23-yard touchdown catch where he tip-toed the sidelines to reach the end-zone. The Bears have publicly avoided the question of whether they want to bring Forte back next year, but Forte has made it clear he would prefer to stay.

The baseline for any Forte deal is probably the 3-yr, $12M deal that a 31-year-old Frank Gore signed with the Colts last year. Forte has hinted that he would take a little less to continue his legacy in Chicago, so let’s say it would take at least $3M per year over the next two with at least half guaranteed to keep him around.

Seems like a steal to me for a player who has gained more yards from scrimmage than any running back in the NFL since he was drafted in 2008.

5.) Lamarr Houston earned his money the 2nd half of 2015

It only took 1.5 years for the Bears significant investment (5 yrs, $35M) in Houston to pay off, but we saw what Houston is capable of when healthy over the second half of the 2015 season. His sack of Stafford on Sunday gave Houston seven total for the season, which ended up leading the team (sad). Considering that Houston didn’t get solid minutes until well into the 2nd half of the season and only started two games, that’s solid production.

Is it worth the $6 million it would cost the Bears to keep him next year? They certainly have the money with over $50M in cap space projected to be available, but that’s a high price tag for a guy who may not start. Most of Houston’s guaranteed money has already been paid, so despite having him under contract for three more years, it would be slightly less than a $3M cap hit to release Houston before the 2016 season.

If Houston can produce like he did in the 2nd half over the course of a full season, that is probably worth the $6M cap hit even if Houston doesn’t start. He’s not an explosive pass rusher, but has the strength to get to the QB eventually, is solid against the run, and should be more comfortable next year with the Bears defensive scheme.

6.) CB Tracy Porter played pretty well against Calvin Johnson on Sunday

You might look at Johnson’s final numbers (10 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD) and think I’m a moron, but the Bears choose to match-up Porter 1-1 against Johnson without help for most of the game. Considering that Johnson is 6’5, 237 pounds and Porter is 5’11, 190 pounds, there were going to be some plays that Porter had no chance.

On about half of Johnson’s catches, Porter was right in his hip pocket but the ball was put where only Megatron could get it. You can’t ask for more than that from Porter against one of the toughest guys in the league to cover.

Porter did misplay one Johnson route by turning for the ball a few steps too early and allowing a touchdown catch on a really nice throw from Stafford, though for most of the game Porter was step for step with Johnson. Porter proved again Sunday that he’s a quality starting corner when healthy.

7.) The no-name defensive line was solid

The Bears starting D-line looked like what you’d expect to see in the 4th quarter of a preseason game: Bruce Gaston, Greg Scruggs, and Mitch Unrein. No one projected any of those guys to even be on the Bears roster must less starting the last game of the season.

Scruggs, who just joined the Bears last week, had a sack, a QB hit and a couple nice hustle plays. He clearly wanted to show the coaches that he was healthy and willing to go after it.

Gaston had two QB hits, one of which forced a 4th down and sent Stafford limping off the field. Unrein wasn’t as productive as the other two d-linemen, but had a QB hit and played well against the run as usual.