The Chicago Bears currently are 4th in the NFL at 6.1 yards per play, just fractions of a yard behind the 3rd place San Diego Chargers. For a little perspective, the Denver Broncos are on top just .2 ahead of the Bears, and the Chip Kelly high octane offense of the Philadelphia Eagles sit in 2nd at 6.2. The Bears' O is in pretty good company under first year head coach Marc Trestman.
For as great a job that Trestman has done, it's sometimes lost in the quarterback controversy that's brewing between Josh McCown and Jay Cutler. Marc Trestman knows offensive football, and he knows how to attack a defense. He's had a few hiccups in game planning and execution in his first year, but this Bears offense is coming together nicely.
But as to that QB controversy:
Josh McCown has performed brilliantly, far above his career numbers, but with a great system in place and outstanding talent around him, I'm not that surprised at his success. He's clearly outplayed Cutler on numbers alone, but Trestman is steadfast in proclaiming that Jay will be the starter once he's healthy.
One thing I'm sure the coaches are taking into consideration is the natural progression of their offensive system. They knew it would improve as the year wore on, and they may look at this offensive outburst as simply meeting their expectations regardless of who the trigger man is.
McCown has been great, but who's to say that he wouldn't have had some growing pains had he been starting from week 1? It's not as though Cutler was terrible when he was starting early in the season, he had some very good moments while the team was feeling their way into the new system. And who's to say that Cutler wouldn't have been the benefit of the system's growth had he been starting these last few weeks?
If you believe in Trestman's system, then you should believe he'll start the better player at quarterback on Sunday. Whoever that is.
But back to the numbers.
Matt Forte had another outstanding all around game, his 27 touches, 175 yards and receiving TD was just a part of his game. As pointed out on the Monday Night Football broadcast, he was doing a great job pass blocking when called upon. The Matt Forte / Michael Bush combo was a productive one last night. It was about a 80/20 split in playing time (58 plays for Forte to 15 Bush), and Bush chimed in with his best game of the year. He had eight carries for 38 yards and the 17 yard TD reception.
As good as the Bears running game was, it was their air attack that was turning heads. Josh McCown lit it up again going over 300 yards passing for a Bears record third straight game. He was 27 for 36 with 348 yards and 4 TDs. He added a rushing TD to cement his place in Chicago history books as one of the greatest individual performances ever.
Alshon Jeffery had another circus catch while only missing three offensive plays. He had 5 catches for 84 yards, and opened a lot of eyes nationally with that corner of the end zone touchdown grab.
Brandon Marshall led the Bears in receiving with 6 for 100, and he played all but four offensive plays. Marshall, along with Matt Forte, also joined Jeffery in the thousand yard club for 2013. This is the first time the Bears have had 2 wide outs and a running back eclipse that mark since 1995.
Tight end Martellus Bennett also played 68/72 snaps, while piling up 5 catches for 43 yards against his former team.
Third wide out Earl Bennett, who had a TD grab, also added a big 3rd down reception to go along with some stellar blocking in his 32 plays. The only other WR to play on offense was Marquess Wilson, who logged a single snap.
Fullback Tony Fiammetta had 29 snaps, while back up tight end Dante Rosario had 13 plays and his first catch as a Bear. Rosario also played 23 special teams snaps, the most on the team.
Eben Britton saw his time cut again as the blocking TE, and this week he only had 7 offensive snaps. That's partly because the Bears offensive line is starting to play better and better each week. They made lanes in the running game and only allowed one sack, which McCown took when the Cowboys sniffed out a screen pass. (More on that in Sackwatch later this week)
As great as the Bears offense has been, their defense has been the polar opposite. They were horrifically bad against the run again but, lucky for the Bears, Dallas stopped running the ball.
The emergence of Jeremiah Ratliff at three technique tackle will pay dividends in overall production eventually. His snaps nearly doubled from last week, and he tied for 2nd most along the D-Line. His 44 plays equaled that of Julius Peppers.
The difference in their play was found in the stat sheet. Pep didn't notch a single stat, while Ratliff had 3 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a QB hit. Even though Peppers didn't scratch, I didn't notice any glaring mistakes from the veteran defensive end. He played his role, he just didn't make any plays.
Corey Wootton picked up a couple tackles in his 48/55 plays, and Shea McClellin added an assist in his 31 plays (56%). Much like an offensive line, a d-line needs time to jell as well. I hope the addition of Ratliff will help stabilize the unit.
The other Bear defenders that played every play were the four defensive backs. I'd rather not discuss the safety play this week, although Chris Conte tied for the team lead in tackles with eight. Also with eight tackles was corner Zack Bowman.
A lot was made of Adam Podlesh not punting once last night, but he did earn his paycheck with his seven holds.
What were your thoughts on the playing time and stats for the Bears last night?
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