7.) Cody Whitehair was a steal in the 2nd round
I’ve discussed it the last two weeks, but I’m doing it again because rookie Cody Whitehair deserves more recognition. He was listed as one of the top ten players in week 15 by Pro Football Focus and was even better this week.
Whitehair did an exceptional job controlling the middle of the line of scrimmage against a good defensive line. He had help from Josh Sitton and occasionally from Ted Larson, but on most of the Bears positive inside runs Whitehair was the driving force behind them.
The fact that Whitehair played guard during the preseason and everywhere except center in college, makes his play at center even more impressive. Whitehair has not only been able to switch positions, but succeed at one of the most challenging positions on the offensive line.
Whitehair has had some help from the veteran guards on either side this season, but eventually took over the play calls at the line of scrimmage and over the last few weeks has become one of the best centers in the NFL. It might sound like hyperbole, but Whitehair’s tape backs it up.
He’s already the Bears best center since Olin Kreutz and looks like a steal in the second round of this year’s draft.
8.) Bears safeties are sooo bad
Another week and another bad game by the Bears safeties. There is nothing new to say, none of the safeties on the roster are even average by NFL standards.
They routinely look lost in coverage and leave huge coverage gaps in the middle of the field. The rarely help in run support either. For some reason, instead of tackling the safeties have decided to try and strip the ball the last few weeks. It hasn’t worked yet, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying and giving up huge chunks of yards to ball carriers in the process.
I didn’t expect much from Harold Jones-Quartey, Chris Prosinski, or Deon Bush (the only draft pick I didn’t like), but Adrian Amos had a promising rookie year. He started every game in 2015 and showed flashes of legitimate talent, but has regressed so much this season that he lost his starting gig two weeks ago.
The Bears really need to spend some resources in free agency and the draft to find some NFL-caliber safeties. Their strategy of drafting multiple safeties on day three just isn’t working. It’s a deep safety draft this year, which I will be covering in depth soon.
9.) The Bears had no pass rush this week
After 13 sacks over the Bears last three games, the pass rush disappeared on Sunday verse the Redskins. The Skins do have an above-average offensive line, but not a good enough one to completely shut out the pass rush like they did on Saturday.
On most pass plays Kirk Cousins had as much time as he wanted to find an open receiver. The lack of pass rush combined with the lack of coverage from Tracy Porter was a big reason the Skins put up 41 points on Sunday.
The Bears primary pass rushers had a hard time getting off blocks on pass plays, but DC Vic Fangio deserves some blame as well. The Bears scaled back the blitzing compared to last week and also rushed just three players on more pass plays than I’ve seen since early in the season.
Perhaps Fangio was worried about the Bears secondary so kept a few more players back but considering how wide open Skins receivers more, Fangio may have been better off using the normal amount of pass rushers or even blitzing more.
Even when the Bears blitzed, they weren’t able to get to Cousins. Not only did they have zero sacks, but they only hit Cousins three times on 29 pass attempts. Rookie Nick Kwiatkoski continues to show promise as a blitzer and almost got to Cousins twice, but like last week he was just a step off target.
The Bears came into the game ranked fourth in the league in total sacks, but will probably drop out of the top five after Saturday. The loss of Leonard Floyd took some teeth from their rush attack, but hopefully he’ll be back for the Bears final game next Sunday.
10.) The Bears run defense was bad for the second week in a row
The Bears defense came into Sunday’s game ninth in the league in total yards allowed. That’s pretty impressive, considering the defense has been on the field longer than all but three teams this season.
What’s not impressive is the Bears run defense the last two weeks. They will surely be out of the top ten after allowing over 200 rushing yards (208) for the second week in a row. For some reason, the Bears tackling ability has disappeared the last two weeks. It may have something to do with the time of possession discrepancy or it could just be too many rookies on the field due to injury.
Either way, the Bears final stats won’t properly reflect how well the Bears defense has played for most of this season. It’s been a long year for both the fans and the players and it’s somewhat understandable that the on-field play has degraded somewhat at the end of a very difficult season.