Bears Takeaways: Week 15

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

8.) I’ve seen enough of ILB John Timu

I was one of John Timu’s biggest supporters last season. He’s always going to struggle in coverage due to a lack of speed, but his run-stopping instincts were elite in college (338 tackles) and he played well in his rookie year when he led the Bears in tackles in three of his four starts.

I’m not sure what changed for Timu between this year and last, but his run-stopping skills seem to have regressed. The last two weeks Timu has missed multiple tackles and hasn’t been able to shed blocks quickly enough to be a factor against the run.

If Timu isn’t a plus against the run, there is no reason for him to be on the field since he’s already a liability in pass coverage. With Jerrell Freeman coming back this week, I think Timu may have had his last start with the Bears. His special teams skills may keep him on the roster, but the way he’s played the last two weeks doesn’t warrant any more time at ILB.

9.) Nick Kwiatkoski made some mistakes but continues to flash potential

Timu and the safeties weren’t the only problems with the run defense, rookie Nick Kwiatkoski made plenty of mistakes as well. He didn’t miss as many tackles as Timu, but overran way too many plays.

It was a step back for Kwiatkoski after an impressive start against the Lions last week, but there were still flashes of starting-caliber talent. DC Vic Fangio uses Kwiatkoski on blitzes more than he has with any other Bears ILB and he’s shown natural timing and a knack for picking the right gap .

Kwiatkoski got to Rodgers often Sunday but just couldn’t finish plays. He got his hands on Rodgers twice and hit him two other times but Rodgers is one of the most elusive pocket QBs in the league. Hopefully, Kwiatkoski will remember that next time. He’s shown enough in his last three starts to be in the mix for significant playing time in the future.

10.) Cre’Von LeBlanc got burned, but single coverage on Jordy Nelson is asking a lot

LeBlanc got burned on the last big play of the game and also earlier on a deep pas that DeVante Adams dropped in the end zone, but LeBlanc shouldn’t get too much criticism for his play Sunday. Generously listed at 5’10, 192, LeBlanc is a much better fit as a slot cornerback, but has been stuck playing outside since the Bears have no other healthy corners who can handle the job.

Considering the fact that LeBlanc is an undrafted rookie, undersized for the outside, and not playing his natural position, he’s done a heck of a job this year. He’s got good ball skills, surprising strength for his size, and the short area quickness that should play well in the slot. Before any judgments are made on LeBlanc’s ability, he should be given a chance to play his natural position next season.

11.) 2017 Draft position update

The Bears lost again so are still in pole position for the 4th overall pick. The 2-12 Jags are in the #3 slot and got close to pulling off a victory this week. They also just fired their head coach, which sometimes inspires teams to a late season win or two. If the Jags do manage to win another game and the Bears don’t, the Bears have the tie-breaker (right now at least) and would move ahead of the Jags into the third spot.

Both the Jets and Rams have four wins and the next two draft spots behind the Bears. I can’t see the Jets winning another game, but the Rams play the Niners this week so they shouldn’t concern the Bears much with a likely five wins. The Jets are a mess though and will be heavy underdogs in their two remaining games (NE, BUF).

So if the Bears end up winning one of their last two games, they will likely tie the Jets with four wins and lose the strength of schedule tie-breaker, dropping the Bears to the 5th pick.

There are still a lot of variables remaining, but if I had to make odds I would say the 4th overall pick is the Bears most likely scenario. Knowing the Bears though, they will probably win out and end up with a pick closer to tenth than first.

Game Notes:

  • Jordan Howard now has over 1,000 yards for the season. He’s only the fifth Bears rookie to surpass the thousand-yard mark
  • The Bears and Packers are now tied in their all-time series for the first time since 1933
  • DC Vic Fangio is now 5-3 lifetime against Packers when Aaron Rodgers starts
  • After another busy week, the Bears now lead the NFL in transactions this season.