Marquess Wilson Benefits from Jay Cutler’s Trust

Brad Biggs
at the Chicago Tribune on the performance of Marquess Wilson:

“[W]ilson stepped up with his biggest game in three seasons with six catches for 80 yards. He caught two balls on the game-winning drive, a 6-yarder on third-and-3 and a 9-yarder that put Robbie Gould in field goal range. They came after a drop with a minute remaining.

“‘I thought Marquess did a heck of a job,’ [quarterback JayCutler said. ‘Coming up big. Some big-time catches. He had the drop, came back, had a couple of catches in a row.'”

Marquess_Wilson_bearsNo one benefited from the return of Cutler more than Wilson did. He had dramatically under-performed in the previous three games, particularly when you consider that he was on the field for the vast majority of the Bears snaps. Perhaps his time on the sideline in Seattle provided him with some perspective but Cutler seemed determined to get Wilson more involved in the absence of Alshon Jeffery. Cutler showed great confidence in Wilson even after he had a terrible drop in an important spot on the game winning drive. Wilson justified Cutler’s confidence and came through.

Wilson has done almost nothing for the team for 2 seasons and a quarter despite the confidence that two coaching staffs have shown him now. Hopefully Sunday will finally provide the jumping off point he needed to progress to better things.

Decisions on Interior Line Tell Us Much about the Players and the Coaches

Matt Slauson
Matt Slauson

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on left guard Matt Slauson taking over at center after Will Montgomery was injured Sunday:

“Former general manager Phil Emery said Slauson was a potential candidate to replace Garza in the future but his experience at center was limited to just a few occasions with his former team the New York Jets.

“‘A couple of quarters here and there with the Jets but that was a dire emergency type of deal where if I was ever called upon to come in it was a deal where, ‘All right, Slauson is in. We’re not going ’gun the rest of the game,’’ Slauson said. ‘Just because it is hard to get those reps when you are starting at one position and backing up at another. You don’t have the time to work on the other. I just have to do mental reps at center throughout the week.'”

Indeed, Slauson said after the game that he only got three or four reps in training camp at the position. This was poor planning on the part of the coaching staff. It could be that the initial plan was to keep Hroniss Grasu active on game day as the first guard or center off the bench. But if that’s true, once it became clear that he’s not big enough to play either position (yet) they should have given Slauson and quarterback Jay Cutler more snaps in the event that they would need a center and Grasu wasn’t active.

It will be interesting to see what the Bears do at the position this Sunday. Grasu says that he’s gained about 10 pounds since he joined the Bears, putting him just over 300. That will undoubtedly help. But he still may not have the knowledge to make the proper line calls, in which case Slauson will remain at center and, presumably, Patrick Omameh at left guard. Assuming that’s the case, will they decide to make Grasu active as the first interior lineman off the bench or will they sign someone else to come in? Which it is will tell us a lot about what the staff currently thinks of Gasu.

Cornerback Play a Key to Bears Victory Over the Raiders

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune from his excellent “10 Thoughts” column after the Bears – Raiders game:

“The biggest difference on defense a week after the Bears showed improvement in a loss at Seattle was the play of Tracy Porter. He stepped into the starting lineup even though Alan Ball, who was questionable with a groin injury suffered during the week in practice, was active. Porter looks like someone who will stay in the starting lineup after successfully handling an assignment to follow Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper from side to side.”

“His comeback [from a hamstring injury] against the Raiders was strong and while the Bears ultimately would surely prefer to have Kyle Fuller in a place where he can be the matchup cornerback, he’s not there right now. The Bears have to hope he sees elements of Porter’s game in this scheme that can help him improve along the way.”

I like the way that the Bears handled Cooper, who is the Raiders biggest offensive threat by far. It’s true that the Bears chose to put Porter on him, a show of some confidence. But its also true that Porter got a lot of safety help – as well he should. You could argue that Fuller got the tougher assignment in that he was in man coverage on the other side most of the game without that kind of help. It was against much inferior receivers but still, its nothing to sneeze at.

To Cooper’s credit, he still found some success on Sunday. But the Bears limited him in a way that hasn’t happened often in the young season. As Biggs points out, there can be little doubt that the Bears will try to handle Jeremy Maclin the same way when they play the Chefs next week.