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Let's hear it for a win yesterday that gives us reason to watch the Bears for another week. I'm afraid that's just about all there is to celebrate. And the same will be true next week, i.e., beat the Panthers in Chicago on Sunday or say hello to oblivion for another season.
Speaking of oblivion, the Cubs seem headed in that direction, don't they? Without shortstop Corey Seager, the Dodgers' lineup simply isn't that impressive. But the Cubs have been even less so as they've fallen behind 2-0 in the NL Championship Series. The lack of hitting is the primary story. The wacky bullpen decision per game, well, I'm just tired of talking about that stuff. And on we go with football again this week.
The 27-24 overtime Bears victory over the Ravens wasn't well-executed football but it was certainly a roller coaster ride, one that featured bad execution - numerous breakdowns during the crushing punt return touchdown - and bad luck - the kickoff return touchdown.
On the latter, a Bears defender could be seen pulling up to avoid making even slight contact with Ravens' ball-carrier Bobby Rainey when he was on the ground. He had no idea Rainey needed to be touched down because he had just watched Rainey be submarined and hit the deck. The problem was, Rainey was submarined by his own blocker.
And no wonder the Bear defender didn't want to touch him. The emphasis on calling personal fouls around the league makes it extremely difficult for players to play with an extra bit of aggression.
That's probably good for overall health but when you see Bears linebacker Christian Jones called for what could have been a critical late hit near the end of the first half on a play when Jones started to tackle his foe when the guy was clearly still in bounds, well, it is understandable if guys try hard to avoid giving foes the sort of little, slightly late shot that would have resulted in Rainey being called down.
On the bright side, cornerback Kyle Fuller had his best game as a Bear. The Ravens targeted him throughout the game and he answered the challenge upwards of a dozen out of a dozen times. He officially broke up three passes but he made sure receivers weren't going to be making a catch in front of him time after time. Fuller also delivered a couple of big hits during a huge day for the secondary in terms of physical play.
Both Fuller and Adrian Amos were playing in front of friends and family in the town, Baltimore, they have called home. Amos finally made a big play in his third season (!) of playing safety for the Bears. And Bryce Callahan also chipped in a spectacular pick and a great return to set up the Bears' first touchdown. On offense, Jordan Howard is as tough as tough can be. How amazing was that final run of his? He pounded away against a defense that knew he was coming dozens of times and finally broke free to set up the winning field goal.
On the dark side, I'm not buying that Mitch Trubisky showed any significant development during the 27-24 overtime victory over the Ravens. The Bears currently aren't running anything that even begins to resemble the sort of NFL offense that makes the playoffs let alone win there. We won't know anything about Trubisky until the Bears start to open up the scheme at least a little. Then again, can they possibly do so with their remarkably bad receiving corps?
Have Tre McBride or Tanner Gentry gotten open yet, even once? Surely there has not been a Bears game in my lifetime with such a completely overmatched duo of starting wide receivers.
I know Josh Bellamy has had the dropsies in the past but he runs good routes and he has been better at catching the ball this year. The Bears seem like they don't want to use him more at receiver because he is a special teams ace but guys, come on. Bellamy needs to get more of a shot to catch more passes.
Finally of course at least one of the Bears' bright sides has a dark future. As well as Fuller is playing, he will be a free agent at the end of the year. The Bears thought he was slacking last year when he missed the whole season due to what they thought was a minor knee injury but the resulting ill will leaves a fan believing the cornerback will be headed elsewhere next off-season. It would be just perfect if the Bears finally developed a difference-maker in the secondary only to see him sign with someone else.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.