Bears Takeaways: Week 5

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /
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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

4.) Cameron Meredith had a breakout game

Who needs Kevin White? With all the attention focused on White’s development, Meredith has flown under the radar despite showing encouraging signs through the first few weeks of the season. Meredith has ideal size at 6’3, 207 pounds and good speed at 4.49. He was raw coming out of Illinois St as an undrafted free agent, since he played quarterback for three years, but has been drawing rave reviews from the coaching staff since training camp and showed what he could do this week when given a chance.

Meredith was the most targeted receiver on the team and finished with nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. He did have a crucial fumble that contributed to the Bears loss and failed to make a play on the Bears last pass of the game, but he was the Bears primary weapon in the passing game and made a number of impressive plays. The two plays that stood out most were a screen pass that he caught near the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle, and then tip-toed down the sideline for a 30-yard gain and his touchdown, where he made a nifty move to burn the cornerback and got wide open in the end zone for a 14-yard score.

With Kevin White out for at least most of the season, Meredith showed that he could step up and give the Bears a reliable weapon across from Alshon Jeffery. If Meredith can continue to improve throughout the season, it could give the Bears a fourth weapon at receiver in 2017 or make it easier to let Alshon Jeffery leave in the offseason.

5.) Fangio finally starts blitzing, but not till 2nd half

I’ve been all over Fangio this season for his lack of blitzing and reliance on just his front four for a pass rush. On Sunday, two things changed. One, the Bears were actually able to generate a pass rush with just four guys, thanks mainly to Willie Young. Two, Fangio finally decided to blitz in the 2nd half.

After only sending more than four guys after the QB just twice in the Lions game, Fangio finally opened the flood gates in the second half verse the Colts. The Bears sent a 5th rusher on at least five plays in the second half alone. I had given up counting since it seemed that Fangio had given up on blitzing all together, but the Bears were already getting roasted on big plays so why not send an extra defender or two and try to get to Luck before he found an open receiver?

The Bears racked up five sacks on the day with three coming in the 2nd half once they started blitzing more often. The Bears have a young, mostly untested secondary and can’t afford to give opposing QBs all day to find an open receiver. On the majority of big plays given up (and there were a lot of them), the Bears had only four pass rushers.

It’s a good sign that Fangio has finally recognized the need for additional pass rushers. It goes against his preferred scheme, but the Bears just haven’t been able to generate enough pressure with their current front four. The return of Eddie Goldman and Leonard Floyd might change things, but for now the Bears need to do whatever they can to get to the quarterback quickly and protect their young secondary.

6.) The Bears offensive line had their best game of the season

While the Colts gave up five sacks, the Bears offense didn’t allow any. They kept Hoyer clean in the pocket all game and opened sizable running lanes for Jordan Howard. Each game this season the Bears offensive line has improved. After just five games together, they are starting to look like an above-average unit.

Granted playing well against the Colts and Lions might be the two easiest matchups they have all season, but it’s still a promising sign that the o-line has been able to protect their quarterback and get enough traction as run blockers that Jordan Howard has gained over 100 yards in each of his two starts.

They have  a stiffer test against the Jags this week, who are eighth in the league with 12 sacks so far and rank 10th in DVOA. If the O-line can keep improving, then so should the Bears offense and perhaps hide their deficiencies on defense by winning the time of possession battle.