Five Things We Learned: Bears-Vikings
November, 26, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireCalling Brandon Marshall the Bears' best receiver ever may not do justice to how good he is.CHICAGO -- Here are Five Things We Learned from the Bears' 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:
1. Brandon Marshall is the greatest receiver in franchise history: Alright, you probably already knew that, but it's nice to keep being reminded the Bears finally have an elite receiver on the roster. Barring some sort of freak injury or off-the-field setback, Marshall will shatter every Bears individual receiving record. He should pass two this year: most receptions in a season (Marty Booker, 100) and most single-season receiving yards (Marcus Robinson, 1,400). Before it's over, he'll have them all. Marshall already has caught 81 balls for 1,017 yards through just 11 games. Remember when a 50-catch, 750-yard year was a big deal for a Bears wideout? Marshall gets that in half of a season. Think 17 targets a game is too much? I don't.
2. The defense still sets the tone: Sure, it was important to get Jay Cutler back under center, but the Bears won this game because the defense bounced back from its awful performance versus the 49ers and set the tone for the game with two fumble recoveries and one interception. When the defense plays well, the Bears can win every game. Granted, the Vikings were without Percy Harvin, which hurt, and for some reason only gave the ball to Adrian Peterson 18 times, that also hurt, but the Bears' defense got back to playing their physical brand of football.
3. Injuries took some of the joy out of the win: Not to be cruel, but the Bears didn't lose much when Devin Hester left the game with a concussion. Eric Weems, a former Pro Bowl return man, is perfectly capable of stepping in for Hester in the return game and as the No. 3 receiver in certain passing situations. Charles Tillman also appeared to be okay even though he left the game early with an ankle injury. If a player is seriously injured, he usually doesn't remain on the bench with his helmet on running up and down the sidelines shouting instructions to this teammates, which Tillman did in the second half. Edwin Williams is probably a serviceable replacement at left guard for Chris Spencer, who after all, originally lost his starting job in Week 3 to the AWOL Chilo Rachal. But the big concerns are running back Matt Forte (ankle) and right guard Lance Louis (knee sprain) who were both taken back to the locker room and never returned. The Bears do have Michael Bush to back up Forte, but Forte made the Pro Bowl last year and is still one of the club's top weapons on offense. Louis is probably the best offensive lineman on the roster who is in line for a contract extension. Losing him for an extended period of time would be a disaster, which is probably why Cutler was so concerned on the sidelines when Louis got hurt. Louis going down isn't good news for the Bears, and it's certainly not good news for the starting quarterback.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh Bears running back Matt Forte injured his ankle on Sunday, one of five Bears to leave the game.
4. Things have a funny way of working out: This had to have been a miserable week for Gabe Carimi who lost his starting right tackle job to Jonathan Scott. But just when Carimi thought he was going to be limited to spot duty when the Bears used an extra offensive lineman on certain run plays, the former first pick got moved inside to guard for the first time in his career after Louis got hurt. By all accounts, Carimi did an okay job, but the film review later in the week will tell the whole story. But it just goes to show that players are often rewarded when they act professionally. Think about it; If Rachal hadn't bolted when he got demoted and later put on the reserve list making him ineligible to play the rest of the year, he would have likely been the first guard into the game when Spencer got hurt. Instead that opportunity went to Carimi. Now, I have no clue if this cameo at guard will eventually help Carimi land back in the starting line-up, but it certainly can't hurt.
5. The supporting cast made its share of plays: As we noted earlier, Marshall was the intended target on 17 of Cutler's 31 throws, but the No. 1 receiver wasn't the only guy out there making plays. Earl Bennett caught all four of the passes that came his way and showed an ability to pick up extra yards after the catch. Bush continued to prove his worth in the red zone with a pair of rushing touchdowns. We also witnessed rookie Evan Rodriguez finally making a small impact in the passing game when he hauled in an 11-yard reception for a first down. And what a nice touchdown grab by Matt Spaeth in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter. Even Kellen Davis managed to hang onto one of the four balls that came his way. Baby steps.