The Chicago Bears are finally through the first half of their 2018 season and by the surprise of most, they find themselves in first place with a chance to extend their grip on the NFC North next weekend.
While most viewed this as a “trap game” of sorts, the Bears capitalized on a chance to get back to a season-high two games over .500 and a chance to control their own destiny heading into the meat and potatoes of their schedule.
The Bears extended their point differential to (+83) with a 32-point victory on Sunday but it likely wasn’t what most fans would expect if they hadn’t seen the box score yet. The team’s mantra of losing ugly continues to be a trend, even with a 41-9 victory.
Even so, there was plenty to like in Week 9, so let’s dive into this week’s game ball session.
CB Kyle Fuller
It’s safe to say that Fuller was not only the team’s best defensive player but the best player on the field for either side on Sunday.
Fuller’s stat line of three tackles, three PBUs and an interception didn’t tell the whole story. Not only did he get himself an interception, he was the reason for both Adrian Amos’ pick and Leonard Floyd’s pick-six.
The 26-year-old was all over the field today and continues to build on a good season, after a rough start through the first four games. One of the big reasons for that? He’s finally getting his head back around in coverage, which is allowing him to make plays on the ball.
When Fuller’s eyes are on the quarterback, he’s a playmaker and needless to say, he showed that today, in a big way. After the Bears matched the Packers’ pricey offer sheet, expectations were high. I’d say over the last few games, he’s starting to live up to that contract and coming up big when the team needs it the most.
Fuller’s ascension as a playmaking corner is what gives him this week’s game ball on the defensive side.
Honorable Mention: OLB Leonard Floyd
Speaking of Floyd, he’s this week’s honorable mention with his strongest game of the 2018 season.
He didn’t register a sack for the eighth straight game but all other aspects of his game were on full display in Sunday’s win. He played the run at an elite level, causing multiple short-yardage runs.
Floyd was also more than adequate in coverage, as he blew up a screen and had himself a pick-six thanks for Fuller’s outstanding play at the line of scrimmage. The former ninth overall pick may not be lighting it up in the sack column but make no mistake, he’s playing well in other facets.
It’s also worth noting that Vic Fangio’s defense requires his outside linebackers to do much more than just rushing the passer, which means stellar play against the run and a good ability in coverage. Floyd’s performance was good on multiple levels in today’s game. Now he must build off that as they get Khalil Mack back and hope that sacks start coming. The talent is there and now we are finally seeing some of the results in 2018.
RB Jordan Howard
The offensive game ball was a hard decision this week. The Bears as a unit only had 190 total offensive yards, so it was slim pickings for today’s honor.
Even so, Howard did more than enough to garner that honor. His overall numbers of 14 rushes for 47 yards (3.4 average) wasn’t overly impressive but he found the end zone twice against a very stout Bills defense.
Howard’s involvement in the offense remains somewhat inconsistent, but it’s been evident over the past few weeks that head coach Matt Nagy is trying to get him more involved, even if it’s in sporadic situations.
As a whole, the team’s offense only ran 45 plays, so there wasn’t a ton of room for flashy numbers, but with a 41-9 score, you’ll take those final results every time.
As the weather gets colder and it becomes harder to throw the ball, I’d expect Howard’s role to expand but he showed flashes of his former self with his 18-yard touchdown, in which he ran over a defensive back before heading into the end zone.
All in all, this was yet another performance for Howard where you can start to see light at the end of the tunnel for this running game. The Detroit Lions defense should be much easier to run on this coming Sunday, even with the addition of Damon Harrison.
Rookie receiver Anthony Miller would have been the only other player that could have been under consideration for this week’s offensive honor. Miller led all pass catchers with five catches for 49 yards.