Dickerson: "Five Things We Learned: Bears-Texans" (excellent read)
LINK to the article Monday, November 12, 2012
Five Things We Learned: Bears-Texans
By Jeff Dickerson
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Here are Five Things We Learned from the Chicago Bears' 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans: 1. Bears are not the best team in the NFL: OK, that question got cleared up Sunday night. But just because the Bears lost to Houston doesn't mean they're about to go into some epic tailspin. Keep it in perspective: As poorly as the Bears played they only lost by seven points. If Robbie Gould makes that difficult 48-yard field goal andBrandon Marshall doesn't drop that long pass in the end zone, the Bears win. This team can still win games even if Jay Cutler is out for a week or two, basically because the defense is so good. Kudos to Houston for staying committed to the run, but it did take Arian Foster 29 carries to reach 102 yards (3.5 average per rush). No doubt the bad weather hurt the Texans' offense, but the Bears deserve some credit for Matt Schaub's 42.9 quarterback rating and two interceptions. One loss does not define a season. At 7-2, the Bears are still in the upper echelon of the NFL. If they get a chance to meet the Texans later in the year, perhaps their starting quarterback will play the entire game. Who knows if that will change the outcome.
2. The life of an NFL No. 2 quarterback is not easy: It is incredibly difficult for any backup NFL quarterback to come off the bench and be expected to perform at a high level. Even Jason Campbell with his 70 career starts had difficulty getting back into the swing of things on Sunday night. Can you blame him? Campbell had attempted just one pass in a game this year and appeared in only three in mop-up duty before entering the Texans game in the second half. Plus, the No. 2 quarterback never gets practice reps during the week. Of course he was going to be rusty. It also didn't help Campbell that he had to face one the best defenses in the NFL. But the Bears are equipped to win games with Campbell in the event Cutler is misses time. Give Campbell a full week of practice to prepare and the Bears offense should function at a reasonably high level.
3. Bears need Alshon Jeffery back: For the life of me I cannot understand why Earl Bennett isn't involved more in the offense. It just doesn't make sense. But there was Bennett with just two targets and one catch for 9 yards against the Texans.
Bennett did not appear on the injury report last week, so if his hand is still bothering him, the Bears are not disclosing it. Matt Spaeth is a valuable blocking tight end, but he was second on the Bears in receptions on Sunday.
That's not good. We've known for years that the Bears can't count onDevin Hester to handle a heavy load on offense, and Kellen Davis is playing like a guy who doesn't want to be in Chicago next season. I hate to put pressure on a rookie, but the Bears have to hope Jeffery's right hand is healed by Monday night in San Francisco because they need him, badly.
4. Bears need to upgrade at the pass-catching tight end spot: Unless Davis goes on a hot streak over the final seven regular season games, the Bears need to take a close look at the tight end position in the offseason. To sum it up: Davis is not a reliable target in the passing game. Nothing else needs to be said. If the quarterback can't trust a player, then he shouldn't be on the team. Davis can make the occasional brilliant athletic catch but he far too often drops passes that kill the Bears' momentum. It happened multiple times Sunday night. Davis still has some value to the Bears, but he isn't a No. 1 tight end. I think that is fairly obvious.
5. Danieal Manning had a memorable homecoming: Although Chris Conte missed a couple of tackles last night, the Bears are very happy with their safeties. So it's not like the defense is necessarily missing Manning in their defensive backfield. But for somebody who knew Manning well when he was here in Chicago, it was nice to see him have such a big game for the Texans against his old squad with one forced fumble and one interception. Besides getting a much better contract from Houston, Manning is lucky to be with the Texans because of the style of defense they play. Quite simply, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips allows Manning to be aggressive, a trait that sometimes hurt him when he with the Bears. Manning used to let everything bother him and worry about making mistakes in the Bears' system. In Houston, he just turns it loose, for lack of a better word. Always a class act off the field, Manning has matured some over the years, another reason why he is becoming one of the better safeties in the AFC for a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. Couldn't happen to a better guy.