Monday, October 17, 2011

Redemption at Soldier Field

After that awful loss last Monday night against the Lions, the Bears took a step toward redeeming themselves tonight with their pasting of the Minnesota Vikings. The coaching matchup, between former Bear Leslie Frazier and Bears coach Lovie Smith, was perhaps the bizzaro world matchup of the Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh matchup earlier, considering the two are pretty much emotionless. The Bears played a nearly mistake free game though; probably a combination of the Vikings' ineptitude and playing the way the Bears should have been all season. But a win is a win nonetheless, and it marks a huge win for the Bears heading into next week's game in London against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

First, the offensive line. They played brilliantly tonight, no doubt having something to do with Frank "Oh My God I Crapped My Pants" Omiyale not playing. Lance Louis played a great right tackle, but the highlight has to be embattled former first round pick Chris Williams. Williams was drafted to be the cornerstone left tackle for the Bears, yet turned out to be a complete bust at the position, prompting his move to left guard. But tonight he played great, and along with the rest of the offensive line and the protection adjustments made by Mike Martz, had the Bears offense rolling. Just look at what happened when Cutler had protection to throw - the offense had time to work and the defense had to compensate, thus opening lanes for Matt Forte as well. Either way, if the offensive line could protect like that all the time, the Bears could try to climb back into this thing.

Second, Matt Forte is a complete stud and it is beyond ridiculous that Jerry Angelo and the Bears play hardball with him. A quick google search reveals widespread support amongst players and almost everyone else to get a deal done for him. He is such an integral part of this offense; he simply does everything. The fact that the Bears haven't gotten a deal done for him yet simply illustrates how stupidly and cheap the Bears run their organization. The better he plays this season, and he is quite possibly playing better than any running back in the NFL right now, the more the Bears are going to end up having to pay him. Knowing Angelo he'll low ball Forte and Forte will walk right out of town. That better not happen.

Third, the defense woke up. It is difficult to find a more devastating and freakish defensive end in the entire NFL than right here with Julius Peppers. He wasn't even close to 100% tonight with a sprained knee, and he had a couple sacks, including a ridiculous chase down of Donovan McNabb where Peppers simply pushed McNabb to the ground. Simply an insane play. The secondary was again a concern, especially in the safeties, but  Stephen Paea FINALLY got into a game and made a tremendous impact, especially with an early safety. I was pumped about the Bears picking him in the second round of the NFL Draft this year, but how does he only make his debut tonight, in Week 6? I mean come on, the guy set the NFL Combine bench press record this year! Get him some PT!

Finally, I wanted to dedicate an entire section to Devin Hester. There just aren't enough superlatives to describe him. He was a complete game changer tonight. He returned another ridiculous kick for a touchdown, caught another long TD, and ignited the spark for the entire Bears offense. A look back at his previous returns illustrates just how dynamic an athlete he is. His vision, including his ability to simply squeeze through a huge pack of players, is unparallelled. His quickness and straightline speed are simply unreal. And he backs it up with pure swag and confidence, something every dominant punt/kick returner needs. Da Hess is, simply put, one of the rare 10-20 players in the NFL who can single-handedly change a game. With him and Forte, the Bears have two such game changers. I hope the Bears keep Hester around for as long as possible; I can't remember a more fun player to watch in a long time.

In the end, even though the win was over the putrid Minnesota Vikings (and subsequently sparked the Christian Ponder era), it's encouraging. I'm excited to see what the Bears make out of this; it's clear that the Lions game sparked a huge change in the Bears this past week. Let's hope a trip to Jolly Old gets the Bears pumped and jump starts the rest of the season.