Vic Fangio May Not Be With the Bears Much Longer and Other Points of View

  • Pete Dougherty at packersnews.com thinks Jason Spriggs might be near the end of his tenure in Wisconsin.

    At this point, Spriggs might have to move to guard to try to salvage his career. Regardless of where he plays, you have to think the Packers will bring him back for his third training camp just to be sure. But unless he improves a lot this off-season, he could get cut after only two years with the team.

    If that’s how it turns out, Spriggs will have been one of the biggest swings and misses of the Thompson era. It’s not just the fanning on a second-rounder. That happens to the best of them. But Thompson traded two extra picks – a fourth and a seventh – to move up nine spots to get him.

    The statement is significant because the Packers may well have traded up to get ahead of the Bears, who “settled” by trading back and drafting budding potential pro bowler Cody Whitehair.

    For once the Bears may have come out ahead on that one.

  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was none to happy with the officiating in Minnesota’s Thanksgiving match up with the Lions:

    “We almost lost our composure a couple times,” Zimmer said. “We study each crew going into the game. I told them it could be like this today. They’ve got to play clean, smart football and (long, awkward pause] . . . I shouldn’t say anything else.”

    I was pretty bad. There was a non-call on what was obviously pass interference committed on wide receiver Stephon Diggs and there was a taunting call on quarterback Case Keenum where he was getting up after a sack and he flipped the ball in the direction of Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah that wasn’t much better.

    Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com danced on the line of accusing the NFL of intentional bias:

    [W]hile I’m a firm believer that the fix is never in, moments like this make me wonder whether the ratings dip has resulted in an unspoken message to give calls to a team that is on the verge of getting blown out, in order to help avoid it. And if I’m wondering, other people are, too.

    I don’t believe that. But I’m honest enough with myself to understand that is largely because I don’t want to believe it.

    The NBA is known for giving the leagues stars the benefit of the doubt when making calls and, as a result, I haven’t watched a full professional basketball game in many years. If the NFL ever did even hint that biased officiating would be acceptable to keep a game close to boost ratings, it would be the end of the league, at least as far as I’m concerned. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

  • Adam Jahns wonders if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is getting a free pass for the poor performance of his defense over the last two games:

    Fangio’s defense didn’t deliver the win it should have against Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley at Soldier Field. Instead, Hundley completed 18 of 25 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown and a 110.7 passer rating — his best mark this season — in Green Bay’s 23-16 victory.

    As quarterback Matthew Stafford was passing for 299 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears in the Lions’ 27-24 victory, the Ravens’ defense played like a top-10 defense should against Hundley in Green Bay. He was intercepted three times and sacked six times. The Ravens held him to a 43.6 passer rating.

    The disparity in Hundley’s performance made the Bears’ most disappointing loss of the season look even worse.

    In fairness, the defense only gave up 27 points in the loss to the Lions. I consider 24 points to be average.

    Fangio’s game plan was to switch up in the coverages in order to confuse Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. It didn’t work as Stafford either did a better job than anticipated or offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter did a very good job of anticipating the coverages. Either way, the Lions got themselves into the right play and took advantage of the Bears zone coverages way too often.

    No one is perfect and Fangio is still one the best defensive coordinators around. It will be tragic if the Bears lose him in the off-season as he becomes a free agent when his contract is up. Fangio wanted to take the defensive coordinator job in San Francisco last season but the Bear blocked the move. They won’t be able to block it this year if the 49ers decide to make a switch. The Raiders also recently fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and they may not stick with replacement John Pagano.

    Bottom line, the odds of Fangio staying look pretty slim at this point.

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reports that defensive end Leonard Floyd will go on IR:

    Floyd played 90 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps in the first nine games, to that point achieving his goal of improved availability. But Thursday’s transaction will bring his two-year career total of missed games to 10.

    While its disappointing that Floyd didn’t make it through the whole season there was a major piece of good news in all of this. Floyd didn’t suffer a single concussion.

    Floyd suffered two concussions in the space of six weeks last year and the frequency of those things doesn’t go down. The Bears claimed that better tackling technique would solve the issue but I was frankly skeptical. Personally, I thought his career was in real jeopardy. But the Bears were evidently right and Floyd seems to have beaten the problem.

Quick Game Comments: Lions at Bears 11/19/17

Offense

  1. The Lions came out stacking the line of scrimmage just like everyone else. The Bears responded by throwing the ball more, apparently deciding that they could actually beat the Lions defensive backs. They also threw some Mitchell Trubisky runs in. All of this combined to loosen the defense up and the Bear sustained a drive down to the 5 yard line before settling for a field goal.
  2. It didn’t help the Lions that they struggled to get a pass rush on Trubisky early.
  3. I thought it was interesting that the Bears chose to pass on that first possession in the red zone. I noticed the first thing they did when they got down there again was run Jordan Howard before throwing for the touchdown to Adam Shaheen.
  4. Shaheen had a breakout game as Trubisky hit him on some pin point passes in tight coverage.
  5. Shaheen had such a good game in part because the Bears apparently decided to target the tight ends this game. He and Brown certainly started hot with 3 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
  6. It looked like the Bears made a concerted effort to get Tarik Cohen on the field more this game after taking heavy criticism in the media last week for not playing him more.
  7. Second week in a row that we’ve seen the Bears run a good screen play. That’s encouraging.
  8. Kudos to the Bears offensive line as they dominated the line of scrimmage early in this game. Trubisky showed what he could do when he gets protection. Unfortunately things weren’t so rosy in the second and third quarters.
  9. Jordan Howard had a pretty good game as he went over 100 yards. The Bears seemed to find the running game a bit in the fourth quarter after stalling for most of two quarters before that.

Defense

  1. Not a fast start for the Lions as they just didn’t execute well early on. Stafford was a little inconsistent and fumbled the ball away on their first possession. You have to wonder if they didn’t take the Bears a little lightly. They got their feet under them in the second quarter.
  2. The Bears did a reasonable job of getting pressure on Stafford as that Lions offensive line initially didn’t look a lot better than it did last year to my eye. Like everything about the offense, they did a better job starting late in the first half.
  3. The Bears mixed coverages quite a bit and they weren’t always in that cover two that they like so much. The Lions did a pretty good job of finding holes in the coverage for big gains when they finally started moving the ball. Looks like the Lions definitely know how to beat zone defenses. It served them well today.
  4. Marcus Cooper didn’t do his chances of continuing to play a lot of good when he let Marvin Jones run around him like he was an orange traffic cone on the Lions second touchdown late in the first half.

Miscellaneous

  1. Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman were your announcers. Spielman threw in some good points this week after a down performance last week.For example, he had an interesting tidbit about Trubisky calling out the blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage on a successful run that I thought was pretty good. Later he caught Stafford yelling “opposite” as he told the offense which direction to run the ball. Spielman also made a good point when he showed that the Bears were double teaming Theo Riddick. It’s rare to double a running back out of the backfield.
  2. Both special teams until played well, I thought, until Connor Barth missed a game tying field goal by a mile.
  3. Kyle Log got an unnecessary roughness on a rather stupid late hit. Prince Amukamara had a bad pass interference [penalty that cost the Bears about 30 yards. Both teams had damaging penalties.
  4. Drops weren’t excessive but Kenny Galloway had a huge one with less than 2 minutes left tin the game that took 10 valuable yards away from the Lions as they were trying to get within easy field goal range. It also stopped the clock. It essentially force a 52 yard attempt by Matt Prater to win the game.
  5. Akiem Hicks recovered a Stafford fumble on the Lions first possession. Nick Kwiatkoski knocked it loose. The Bears converted it into a touchdown. D.J. Hayden picked up a bad snap for the Lions and scored a touchdown as the Bears gave the points from the Kwiatkoski recovery right back [eye roll].
  6. The Bears lost Leonard Floyd to injury and almost lost Kyle Fuller but neither would have been bigger than the loss of Eddie Goldman. The Bears weren’t the same last year after Goldman went down. I was glad to see him go back in.
  7. Tweet of the day:

    @BradBiggs: Since #Bears went ahead 17-7, they have run 13 offensive plays.

     

    That was near the end of the third quarter.

    The Bears went dead in this game in the middle and couldn’t sustain what they started. They found their legs again for a bit in the fourth quarter and Trubisky made it a game as he led the bears down field to try for a game winning field goal.  But it was too little too late after the defense gave up a very long, time consuming drive that ended in a Lions field goal.

    The Bears showed some potential this game as they opened up the offense. They might have beaten a team like the Lions on an off day. But the Lions were the better team and generally played like it.

    Bears fans will just have to be patient.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 12/11/16

Defense

  • The Bears came out playing man to man defense.  The Lions did a good job of passing against it.
  • Matthew Stafford came out ready to play.  He was accurate, he got rid of the ball quickly and on time.
  • I was also impressed with Stafford’s mobility this game.  He did a nice job of avoiding the rush, all things considered as he made hay outside the pocket.
  • The Bears did a nice job of holding the defensive front early and they did a nice job of both stopping the run and getting pressure on Stafford.  The Lions offensive line is certainly nothing to write home about and the Bears did a nice job of taking advantage of that.
  • Leonard Floyd, in particular, really looked good today.  He and Akiem Hicks seemed to be living in the Lions offensive backfield.

Offense

  • Everyone wondered how Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was going to attach Matt Barkely.  It became evident early on.  Though they mixed it up a bit, they blitzed him quite a bit the whole game.  He wasn’t perfect but I thought he handled it reasonably well all things considered.
  • The Bears response was to run the ball and stick with the short passing game and they didn’t do a bad job of it.  Eventually the Lions stacked the box and dared Barkley to beat them through the air.
  • The offensive line did a pretty good job of moving the Lions defensive front and the Bears found some success in the running game.  They protected Barkley pretty well despite the blitzing up until the fourth quarter when Barkley started to see a lot more pressure.
  • Having said that, I thought Barkley’s ball placement eroded a bit in the after the first quarter.
  • Barkley did a nice job early of getting the ball out quickly and accurately to the right receiver.  He also showed some all important pocket movement to find throwing lanes that we haven’t seen before.
  • Barkley tried hard to throw an interception when under pressure in the second half.  It reminded me a great deal of his first start.  He’s going to have to get out of the habit of just chucking the ball up every time he gets in trouble.

Miscellaneous

  • Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots were your announcers.  I don’t have a problem with these guys in that they are professional and clear.  They hit all of the high points and do a good job of describing the action.  But if you are waiting for those, “Gee, I’ve been watching football for forty years and I never thought of that” moments, you aren’t going to find many.  I didn’t learn much from them today.
  • Special teams were OK on both sides.
  • I like Josh Bellamy as an underdog well enough.  But I’m getting tired of watching him drop balls.  Having said that, it was really the Lions who dropped far too many balls today.  That, along with their penalties really hurt them.
  • The Jeff Triplette officiating crew held to form today, calling a lot of penalties as is their habit.  The Lions (7 for 55 yards) shot themselves in the foot with wit too many penalties at critical times and the man to man coverage that the Bears were running caused them to commit a number of damaging pass interference penalties that hurt them badly.  The had 11 total for 139 yards and a couple holding penalties on the final Bears drive in the fourth quarter were killers.
  • The Bears finally came up with a turnover as Demantre Hurst intercepted a ball in end zone in the fourth quarter with a big play.  That was follwed by a pick six by Cre’Von LeBlanc that put the Bears up 17-13 midway through the fourth quarter.  Now it has to go from being a miracle when they get one to something we see regularly.
  • This wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll see but the Lions clearly played better when it counted today.  The Bears had their chances and couldn’t get the job done.  Clearly learning to finish is one more thing that this team needs to do before they will climb out of the cellar to win more football games.

Quick Comments: Lions at Bears

Offense

  1. Brian Hoyer picked up where he left off last week going to tight end Zach Miller on the first play. That connection continued all game.
  2. Bears were apparently determined to run the ball. Jordan Howard doesn’t look like much but he certainly moves the pile and finishes the run, something we heard all offseason Jeremy Langford was trying to work on but which yielded few results.  The team averaged 4.1 ypc in the first half and they rarely lost yardage.  They finished the game with 4.5.
  3. The run game opened up the play action pass, which appeared to work well as the Lions were obviously concentrating on stopping the run.
  4. Interestingly, the Bears ran Howard an awful lot to the left side. Supposedly the right side of the line was going to be the strongest in this respect with Bobbie Massie definitely having a reputation as a better run blocker than pass blocker.  But the Bears evidently believe that running behind Josh Sitton and Charles Leno is a better option.
  5. To my surprise, Darius Slay was not following Jeffery around. The Bears obviously consider Jeffery a mismatch on the other cornerbacks (and maybe on Slay as well).  So they started the game concentrating on getting the ball to him a little more than they have.
  6. The Lions were stunting a lot up front in an effort to get pressure on Hoyer. The offensive line generally did a very good job of exchanging men and handling it.  They generally picked up the blitz reasonably well, too.  They seem to be shaping up nicely as a unit.
  7. Cody Whitehair looks very solid up front now. He’s obviously settling in and showing his potential.   He’s got some power.
  8. Eddie Royal was on fire again. He seems to have a gift for popping open from the slot, which is absolutely his best position.  The Bears should never, ever put him outside again.
  9. Brian Hoyer was doing a good job of spreading the ball around. He’s also accurate and that quick release is something else.  He fits the ball very well into tight spaces.  Hoyer does two things that we never see from Jay Cutler.  He throws with anticipation and he often manages to get rid of the ball when the defense sends an unblocked man on the delayed blitz.  He was still sacked by Darius Slay on such a blitz in the first quarter, though.  So that problem isn’t completely solved.
  10. Somewhat surprised to see Joique Bell get significant snaps in this game only a week after he was signed. He got up to speed fast.
  11. There were a lot of positives about how the Bears moved the ball this game. But the bottom line is that they couldn’t turn it into points. That’s disappointing and they still have work to do finding ways to finish. 

Defense

  1. The Bears had a similar defensive game plan to the Lions. They sank back in coverage and tried to keep anyone from getting the ball deep.  The idea was evidently to let the other team make mistakes and stop themselves.  I’d say it worked for the most part for both teams.
  2. The Bears got sporadic pressure on Matthew Stafford in part because they were only rushing 3 or 4 for most of the game. Stafford did not have a good start to this game.  The Bears managed some good zone coverage, sometimes dropping as many as eight into coverage, and Stafford appeared to be a bit unhinged.
  3. The Lions spent a good deal of the game shooting themselves in the foot with mistakes and penalties. It looked to me like they were simply struggling to execute.
  4. The Bears did a pretty good job of stopping the run in the first half allowing only 2.7 ypc. The final stat was 3.7.
  5. Nick Kwiatkoski isn’t the most athletic linebacker and we aren’t going to see him roaming sideline to sideline like Brain Urlacher. He made his share of mistakes but he seems stout against the run.
  6. Despite Kwiatkoski’s play, the Bears did once again miss Danny Trevathan. The Lions took advantage of the Bears linebackers in coverage for a lot of yardage today.
  7. I thought Will Sutton held up better against the run this week. That’s encouraging with Eddie Goldman out.
  8. One thing that I’d like to see the Bears do more of is disguise their coverages. Whether it was man or zone – which they played an awful lot of today – there was never much doubt about what they were trying to do.
  9. Kudos to the Bears for stiffening and making a stand in the third quarter with the Lions having 1st and goal inside the 5 yard line. They forced a field goal, keeping the score 7-6 at the time.
  10. I think Stafford is channeling his inner Jay Cutler. His body language today every time something went wrong was deplorable.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin. Always glad to have Johnston doing a Bear game.  He often points out things that the fans can’t see and I usually learn something from him.
  2. Allowing a punt return for a touchdown with 2 minutes left in a two score game is a terrible travesty. Just awful.  Deonte Thompson with a nice return to start the game.  Eddie Royal had a good put return in the first quarter as well.  Too bad it was called back after a block n the back penalty.  The boos rained down on Connor Barth as he missed a 50 yard field goal from the left hash.  Admittedly its not a chip shot but Ryan Pace and John Fox didn’t win any friends dropping Robbie Gould for him.
  3. Logan Paulsen dropped what was admittedly a tough catch in the first quarter.
  4. Both teams had more than their share of penalties in what was a sloppy game where is seemed that each team was shooting itself in the foot every time you turned around. Deonte Thompson with a stupid holding penalty early in the second quarter.  That killed the drive.
  5. The interception right before halftime by Jacoby Glenn was huge in that it saved at least three points for the Bears. It was evidently a miscommunication between Stafford and Golden Tate, who Stafford apparently though was going to cut his route short.  Glenn was facing Stafford and saw the whole thing develop very well and got a good jump on the ball.  At least as important was the second Stafford interception, this time in the fourth quarter with the Lions moving the ball well and threatening to cut the Bears lead to one score.  Deandre’ Hall was the one in the right place at the right time this time.  Hoyer, on the other hand, did a good job of protecting the ball.
  6. I’m seeing more of Peyton Manning now than I ever did when he was playing. We seemingly can’t have a single commercial break without seeing his face.  I like the guy but I’m already getting very sick of seeing him.
  7. Oh, and the point at which I was seeing Marshawn Lynch too many times was the first time. For a guy who never talked to the media he sure does seem to be on television a lot.
  8. There were times during this game when I didn’t think either side deserved to win. With 18 penalties for 131 yards, the game was terribly sloppy and both teams seemed to take turns killing themselves with mistakes.  If you are the Bears, you take a win any way you can get it.  But the message I took away was that both of these teams have a long way to go before they are going to truly compete for the division.

Defensive Linemen on the Rise in 2016 NFL Draft. Offensive Linemen, Not So Much.

Reports from the Senior Bowl at nfl.com support previous indications that the defensive linemen are going to be a strength in this year’s NFL draft. Here’s a cross section of the comments from the first day of practice:

Mike Mayock

“We knew going in the deepest positional group was defensive tackle, and boy did that hold true. I thought Matt Ioannidis from Temple had a great day. I thought the kid from Louisiana Tech, Vernon Butler, had a phenomenal day. But the topper was Adolphus Washington from Ohio State. He was all over the field in one-on-one drills; he was too quick, too stout. He was great in team drills. I thought he put on a show.”

Lance Zierlein

“[Clemson DT D.J.] Reader‘s 340-pound frame was often too much for many of the linemen he faced on Tuesday. Keep an eye on this late addition because Reader could make himself some money this week.

“Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins showed off his ‘karate’ hands by defeating blockers with astounding quickness at times. While Rankins is undersized, his compact frame, outstanding balance, and next-level hand usage should make him one of the most consistent performers on the South squad this week.”

All this is great news for teams like the Bears who need defensive line help. It looks like they’re going to have a great selection to choose from.

But much of the rest of the league might not be too pleased. This dominant performance by the defensive tackles in these practices can’t speak well for the offensive linemen that are getting beat on a consistent basis. Judging by what I saw during the regular season, I’d be very surprised if less than three-quarters of the league is in need of offensive line help. That includes most of the playoff teams, as was graphically demonstrated by the beating that New England quarterback Tom Brady took on Sunday. In the NFC North, Minnesota, Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago all need help in one form or another along the offensive front.

The Bears might be able to find multiple defensive linemen in this draft. But the indications are growing that offensive linemen are going be at a premium.

Bears Will Face Stiff Competition for a Guard in Free Agency

Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press thinks the Lions could be big spenders in free agency:

“With a projected cap north of $150 million, and the likelihood they free up more room with cuts or retirements, the Lions have the potential to be significant players in free agency if new general manager Bob Quinn chooses.”

“The Lions have holes on both lines, at linebacker and at receiver this off-season, and their need for a pass catcher could amplify if Calvin Johnson retires, as he’s hinted he might do.

“If Johnson retires, the Lions, who currently have more available cap space than 11 other teams, will gain an additional $11 million in spending room.”

The Lions, like the Bears, might have plenty of cap space but they are one of many, many teams that have needs on the offensive line including playoff teams Minnesota, Seattle and Arizona to name a few. All of these teams will face stiff competition for any offensive lineman who is worth his salt and who hits free agency. That’s going to drive the price up into the stratosphere.

The Bears, at least, are going to have to look for their right guard in the draft. Any team hoping to fill their holes in that area through free agency and is willing to put out the money needed to do it is likely building the foundation of their offense on sand.

The Reality of the Bears Situation

Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune reviews the problems that the Bears have to overcome in order to continue to win football games.

Jay Cutler’s turnover-free night? Well, Quentin Rollins dropped a shoulda-been interception in the first quarter. And Cutler had to make a desperate hustle recovery to avoid disaster on a fumbled fourth-quarter snap.

“That spirited defensive effort? The Bears still are getting pushed around up front and proving way too vulnerable against the run.

“This list could go on for awhile. And it’s why the Bears can’t take their newfound position as favorites against the 49ers and Redskins as a sign that they can exhale. They still have a razor-thin margin for error and haven’t enjoyed a three-game winning streak since September 2013.”

He’s got a good point. In talking to Bears fans around town and around the Internet, there’s considerable optimism about how this team is going to finish the year. What I’m hearing a lot is, “With that schedule? They’re going to the playoffs.” Much though I like what I see, I think fans are setting themselves for disappointment.

Looking ahead, I see San Fransisco, Washington, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Detroit. Are those winnable games? You bet. But I feel compelled to point out that those teams are saying the same thing about their game against the 5-6 Bears. And with the exception of the Vikings, all of them are on the upswing, just as the Bears are. And the Vikings were pretty good to begin with.

San Fransisco just limited the Cardinals, possibly the best team in the NFC, to 19 points. Tampa Bay has won three of their last five and is in contention for a playoff spot. Washington has also won three of five and are the favorites to win their division. The Lions just beat the Packers three weeks ago in Lambeau, matching what the Bears just did, and they absolutely destroyed the Eagles on Thanksgiving. And both the Vikings and the Lions beat the Bears earlier in the year.

Could the Bears finish strong and be in contention for the playoffs? No doubt. But much more likely fans will be sitting at the end of the year and be happy that the Bears gradually improved over the course of the season with a bright future ahead of them. But only if they stay grounded in reality.

Revising Expectations for the Bears

Jon Greenberg at ESPN is revising his expectations for the Bears:

“In the beginning … we predicted 6-10 for the Chicago Bears and it seemed just about right.”

“But then Jay Cutler returned [from injury] ahead of schedule and things settled down, and now, weeks after fans stopped watching games between their outstretched fingers, this looks like, knock on Mike Ditka’s pompadour, it could be a wholly respectable team with a longshot chance of making the postseason.”

The Bears are on a hot streak and Cutler is certainly a big part of that. But Cutler or not, I’m sticking with 6-10.

The Bears are 4-5 and at this point in the season, I think that’s great. But let’s not forget that they are the same team that lost to the Lions a month ago. They’ve won two games since then but they’ve gotten a lot of help from two teams that, frankly, played well below their talent level. Such things have a bd habit of evening out and more often than not, given decent coaching and a good environment, teams end up right where their talent level says they should.

I’m not disparaging the Bears here. I think they’re a well-coached team that is making progress every week. But Denver is a much better team that is unlikely to give the game away with poor discipline in the same manner that the Rams did. And I don’t care how badly the Packers are slipping at the moment, I can’t believe that they won’t pull it together and beat the Bears on Thanksgiving. I also see the Vikings as a loss in Minnesota. After that, the Bears are still a team that’s going to be no more than a coin flip against Washington, San Fransisco, Tampa Bay, and Detroit. If they win half of those, that’s two more wins. And that’s where I’m still sitting.

Could the Bears Trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune evaluates the film from Sunday’s loss to the Lions:

“[Alshon] Jeffery was dynamic after missing four games with a hamstring injury, showing his ability to dominate cornerbacks on back-shoulder throws on the final drive of regulation and how his 6-foot-3 frame makes him a mismatch on high throws in the end zone on his touchdown. The return of Eddie Royal also opened creative screens.”

Aishon_jeffrey
Alshon Jeffery (Wikipedia)

Eddie Royal has come alive because the Bears finally put him back in the slot where he belongs. But that’s not what stuck out to me in Biggs’s comment.

Just a week ago I was asked by a Jets fan if I thought the Bears would take a second round pick for Jeffery. The question was not unreasonable given that his contract is up after this year and he hadn’t been able to get on the field. I told the fan that I thought the Bears wouldn’t trade Jeffery until they got a good look at him on the field. This game demonstrated why.

There were (ands still are) questions about whether Jeffery can be a real number one wide receiver who can perform despite the absence of Brandon Marshall, who was traded in the offseason. In his first game back last Sunday, Jeffery made all the difference, providing a deep threat that the Bears simply don’t otherwise have.

That doesn’t mean the Bears might not trade Jeffery eventually. There are still a lot of games to play and Jeffery likely hasn’t seen anyone’s best shot yet. And the Bears do still have Keven White, who they surely drafted in the first round with the expectation that he would eventually be a number one receiver.

It says here that the Bears probably franchise Jeffery. They’ve got cap room and don’t have anyone else to tag.  It will keep the price reasonable  down while they negotiate a long-term extension.  Jeffery would skip offseason workouts but he’d probably rather train with Marshall anyway.

Still, you never know.

Cutler More than Just Right Against the Lions

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune evaluates three Bears including quarterback Jay Cutler:

“Cutler’s final numbers look OK. He was 26 of 41 passing for 353 yards, a touchdown, an interception and an 88.8 passer rating. But the Bears scored only three touchdowns on eight trips inside the red zone, and he acknowledged those failures start with him. Cornerback Rashean Mathis intercepted Cutler’s poorly thrown fade in the end zone on the opening possession of the second half. On the up side, Cutler delayed the Bears’ demise by moving them 69 yards in 17 seconds just before the fourth quarter expired.”

Its worth noting that, at least to my eye, Cutler had his best game of the year Sunday. He still missed some throws, his ball placement isn’t always great and he still threw his weekly interception.  But generally speaking I thought he was more consistent than he has been and I think that passer rating of almost 90 reflects that.

Not much is really going wrong for Cutler and, as far as I’m concerned, he is still on perhaps the best roll of his career in Chicago. Here’s hoping that continues after the bye.