CHICAGO -- Here are the five things we learned during the Bears’ 31-26 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
1. The Bears’ Cover 2 defense still works: Yeah, I know you hate the Lovie 2. But when everything is clicking, it’s like an assembly line of pain for opposing offenses. Michael Vick passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns, but the explosion plays were limited, and the Eagles went 4-for-13 on third down. The Bears knew they could frustrate Vick by limiting his downfield looks and stop him by flying to the ball.
“All week we preached four equals one, it’s right there on the game plan, four equals one, so you got to take your shots at him, and the next man takes his shot and eventually somebody gets him down,” Julius Peppers said. “That was the game plan.”
Safety Chris Harris, in his first year back in the scheme, thinks it helps the Bears that fewer teams run as much Cover 2 as they do. “A lot of teams don’t run Cover 2, they run more quarters and man to man,” he said. “Offenses don’t see Cover 2 and we play a ton of it.”
2. Jay Cutler isn’t Jeff George: This was the biggest game of Cutler’s Bears tenure, and he came through, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions and looking like a winner. Yes, he had a dumb penalty for yelling at a referee late in the game that gave the Eagles better field position, but I’d take that any day over a screenshot of him sulking back to the bench. Cutler didn’t need to throw deep to impress anyone, and he surely benefited from the absence of Eagles corners Ellis Hobbs and Asante Samuel. Cutler made plays with his feet and his head, and most impressively, led a 17-play, 83-yard drive in the third quarter that took 10-plus minutes off the clock, culminating in a Robbie Gould field goal that made it 31-13. My favorite play of the drive was a 6-yard flick pass to Matt Forte on third-and-5. “I did my job,” Cutler said. “That’s all each of us can do. We just have to go out and do our job and execute plays.”
3. Sartorial safety: Harris, the self-proclaimed “Hitman” can call himself Pickman now after making an interception in the red zone off a Tommie Harris tip. He returned the pick 39 yards and set up the Bears' final touchdown of the half. It was the biggest play of the game. Chris Harris’ postgame outfit was the picture of casual cool: a white dress shirt, gold tie, True Religion jeans and a sharp grey cardigan. “Wow, he knew he was going to have a good game,” Tommie Harris said. "Look how he dressed."
4. Vandy connection: Earl Bennett is turning into a legitimate go-to receiver for the Bears. Bennett caught three balls in the first half, two for touchdowns.
It was his first two-touchdown game of his career. Bennett doesn’t have the pure speed or cachet of Devin Hester or Johnny Knox, but he has the best hands on the team and as Cutler gets more comfortable in Mike Martz’s offense, you can see Bennett’s value growing. “Jay has a strong arm,” Bennett said of his first touchdown catch. “And I knew looking at the defense he was going to come to me, and he threw a dart and I had to catch it.”
5. Copper lining: We can talk positives until the last bottle is poured at the Underground, but the ugly truth is the Bears’ offensive line could still very well get Cutler killed. Yes it's a work in progress, but the Eagles got some easy shots in at Cutler on free looks in the first half. Tackles J’Marcus Webb and Frank Omiyale got worked on several plays by greedy Eagles defensive linemen, and one of the four sacks Cutler took, all in the first half, four Eagles ran in seemingly untouched. Cutler is getting better at recognizing pressure, but he still needs a few seconds back there.