Ka’Deem Carey Proving that He May Yet Be a Keeper

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune notes that Ka’Deem Carey saw fewer runs against the Redskins than he did the couple games previously.

“No carries this week for Ka’Deem Carey and I suspect the reasoning is two-fold. For starters, the Bears only handed the ball off 21 times and there were only 56 offensive plays. They got to him last week against the 49ers because they had 78 snaps.”

The knock on Carey is that he doesn’t play special teams, something most third running backs need to do to keep their jobs. But Carey did see 5 snaps on special teams this week where he had one returned kick.

The Bears might be coming around to the idea that Carey has a future with the team. His activity on special teams will be worth monitoring as the season wears down.

Bears Playing Better at Outside Linebacker. Still Need Help.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune evaluates the situation at outside linebacker.

“[Willie] Young got credit for what looked like a coverage sack  [last Sunday] from my vantage point but he still had to finish the play and he’s been playing solid of late and has a sack in four consecutive games for the first time in his career. Expanded playing time opportunity allowed Lamarr Houston to factor in with a team-high nine tackles, according to press box statistics. Houston was making plays in the run game although some were downfield. Both were coming off major injuries from last season. Both are playing better in the second half of the season. Hard to say what the future holds at outside linebacker for the Bears this offseason but I know they can’t afford to get rid of any players until they’ve replaced them. Maybe Young is playing himself into another season here. His contract is flat. He will earn the same $2.45 million in 2016 as he is this season with a $50,000 workout bonus. That’s club friendly when you talk about a guy with 15 ½ sacks now over the last two seasons.”

I’d say both of these men have a future with the Bears. I’d also say that neither is the playmaker the Bears need at the position. As Biggs points out, most of the sacks Young and Houston have collected have been either coverage sacks or sacks that have come when the offense was in the position at the end of the game where they had to pass. Pass rushers can pin their ears back and go after the quarterback without worrying about the run in the latter situation.

That doesn’t mean that these men aren’t valuable. They are. But the Bears still need help at the position opposite Pernell McPhee if they want to put the kind of pressure on quarterbacks that will be needed to force errors rather than take advantage of good play on the back end.

What Do You Do With a Problem Like Zach Miller?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune comments upon the play of tight end Zach Miller:

“Miller was more or less a fullback for the first seven games of the season when he was targeted only five times in the passing game. In the last six games, he’s got 18 receptions for 278 yards and five touchdowns, including a 9-yard touchdown from Jay Cutler in the third quarter that brought the Bears within 21-14.”

“It will be interesting to see what shakes out for Miller. He’s produced in the passing game now that he’s been given an opportunity. He’s playing through a rib injury and he’s stayed on the field this season.”

The last sentence is significant. Bears fans know that Miller has had the potential to perform like this. At least those who have been paying attention. Miller performed well in the preseason of 2014 and coaches raved about how surprised they were about his athleticism and potential.

The problem with him is that he has been more often injured than on the field. The injury-riddled Miller was drafted in 2009 by the Jaguars but was released after sustaining a calf injury in the 2012 preseason after playing only four games for them in 2011. The Bears placed him on injured reserve in August of 2014 with a foot injury.

The Bears face an interesting decision on Miller. He’s clearly an asset and the Bears can’t afford to throw away good players. But they can’t give a lot of money to a player long-term if they can’t trust him to be on the field, either. With the Bears rebuilding, Miller is not someone that they can afford to invest in too heavily.