As I was shopping for Christmas dinner, a man came up to me and asked “Are you ready for some Bears football on Sunday?” As I was reaching for the dinner rolls I started to have mixed emotions. On one hand I already have my mind on next season and on the other hand I’m a die hard Bears fan and plan my weekends around the Monsters of the Midway. Even though the Bears are not playing for the post-season, they are playing for pride and a chance to be in the future of this regime. It would be so easy for this team to pack it up and call it a season, but they dug down deep and found a way to win. Time now to tackle my takeaways from Sunday’s win over the Bucs.
1. Bears defense created turnovers. The Bears were one of the best teams at creating turnovers under Lovie Smith as head coach, but this season turnovers have been hard to come by for this Bears defense. Sunday the Bears defense found ways to force the ball out 3 times and it paid off. Harold Jones-Quartey had a big day with an interception on Jameis Winston that was outstanding and a forced fumble. His names would be called a lot on Sunday. The play that jumped out at me was watching undrafted rookie Jonathan Anderson force a fumble on Doug Martin. It was a textbook tackle. Anderson wrapped Martin up while putting his hat on the ball. It doesn’t get much better than that. Martin and Jones-Quartey’s play against the Bucs has now put their names in the running for a spot next season as this defense will foresure get a makeover. Takeaways have been scarce this season, but it feels good watching this defense get into a groove that hopefully they can carry over into next season. The defense as whole was a big reason why the Bears won the game.
2. The run was established. The one thing that I love about Adam Gase is that he will not steer away from the run. Within his offense he understands that it is what keeps his passing game moving. The Bears Running backs have been one of the biggest bright spots of this entire season. Gase has been able to divide carries between Matt Forte, Jeremy Langford and even get Ka’deem Carey a few touches. Without having a down field threat the Bears have been relying on the ground game to control the clock. Langford finished the game with 19 carries for 83 yards and Forte had 11 carries for 54 yards. Carey didn’t have the rushing yards like his running mates, but did finish the day with a rushing touchdown and his 1st career receiving touchdown. We all know that Langford is the future of this ball club, but I’m going to enjoy watching Forte in a Bears uniform one last time next week.
3. Jay Cutler played well. I have to be honest ladies and gentlemen. I never could have predicted the type of play we saw this year out of Cutler. I always knew that he had the talent in him, but thought that he was a lost cause. I will be the first to say I was wrong. Cutler has been the main reason why the Bears have won the games they have this season. With Kevin White out for the season and Alshon Jeffery in and out of the lineup and you think about the guys Cutler has been throwing to most of the season, guys that probably would not see playing time on most NFL teams, Cutler has still shined. Cutler didn’t have the eye popping numbers, but he was very efficient going 20 of 27 passing for 156 yards and 1 touchdown. I said last week on my show CLTV Sports Feed that all I wanted for Christmas was Adam Gase to stay in Chicago to continue the development of Cutler. I’m just hoping Santa Claus received my handwritten note.
4. Injuries keep piling on. The injury bug has hit this Bears team all season long. The worst part about the injuries is that it has been to key players and key positions. To start out the day the Bears would be without to guys that play a lot of snaps. Alshon Jeffery would miss his sixth game of the season with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Shea McClellin sat out after suffering a concussion in last week’s loss to the Vikings. Rookie Nose tackle Eddie Goldman would suffer an ankle injury in the game and he would not return. Rookie center Hroniss Grasu would have to be helped off the field in the 3rd quarter. Later in the fourth quarter he returned to action. Also in the fourth quarter the camera would pan to the sideline where Forte was being stretched out by the trainers. Looked like it was a hip pointer, but would be later classified as a back injury. You always come into a season expecting injuries, but this season they have happened more than I expected.
5. Miller’s time is now. Zach Miller keeps showing me that he is the type of player the Bears want on this roster now and for next season. He has been able to show what he can do with Martellus Bennett being out for the season. The vet has been able to have high volume of snaps and he is taking advantage of them. His role in the passing game was evident in the win on Sunday. He snagged 7 of 8 targets for 69 yards. Miller is a match up problem because of his ability to line up and down the line. He can have his hand down or he can be in the slot. His versatility is what the Bears needed as they were lacking a down the field threat in the game. He has been pretty healthy for the most part, I just hope it can carry over to next year. I’m knocking on my wood table as I type this.
The Bears needed the win on Sunday. You ask what does it mean? Well, it means that in the 1st year under John Fox this team is better than they were last season. Worst case scenario they loss to next week at home versus the Lions, but they have one more win than they did last season. I will take that, you know why? The roster that I’m looking at right now is not really that good, so that leads me to believe there will be some maintenance work after the season. Coming into this season all I wanted to see was improvement and I’ve gotten that. This Bears team has made want to throw my iPhone at my TV quite a few times, but they’ve played hard in every game except for last week against the Vikings. I will take that because last season I needed two hands to count the number of games they gave up. John Fox is just what this team needs to get back to the top of the NFC North and with Ryan Pace by his side great things are ahead for our beloved Bears. We have one game left as the Motor City comes to Chicago. Hope we can end the season on a high note. #BearDown