Free Head Exam: Chicago Bears

After the Chicago Bears' 30-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Last week, we noted that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had dramatically reduced his sack totals amid continuing pressure from opponents. We saw another installment of that trend Monday night. The Eagles were in the pocket often but couldn't sack him; Cutler has now been sacked a modest 10 times in his past six games. Here's the most amazing part: Cutler avoided a sack Monday night even as coordinator Mike Martz called seven-step drops on 18 of his 32 throws. The Bears ran five-step drops on another 11 passes and had only three passes where Cutler took a quick three-step drop. It's worth noting that both of Cutler's touchdown passes came on three-step drops. The Bears gave the Eagles a chance, but Cutler's mix of shovel passes, sidearm tosses and nifty footwork saved them.

  2. It's nice to see the Bears reward center Roberto Garza with a two-year contract extension, a deal they wrapped up Monday and announced Tuesday. As we discussed during the Bears' bye week, Garza deserves credit for making a significant transition as quietly as possible. Few players are eager to make a position change in a contract year, considering the potential for failure and thus lowering their value. But Garza replaced Olin Kreutz without complaint, and the smooth changeover is one of the reasons the Bears are in position to make a playoff run.

  3. We noted linebacker Brian Urlacher's play earlier Tuesday in our Stock Watch post. So let's also note that linebacker Lance Briggs played an inspired game, totaling five solo tackles and creating the interception that safety Major Wright ultimately caught. All you had to do was watch Briggs sprint some 40 yards to catch Eagles quarterback Michael Vick at the sideline to realize Briggs came to play Monday night. It was a reminder, for a national television audience, that Briggs remains one of the NFL's better 4-3 outside linebackers.

And here is one issue I still don't get:

After watching another solid game from right guard Chris Spencer and right tackle Lance Louis, especially as run blockers, you have to wonder what the Bears will do when rookie Gabe Carimi (knee) is ready to return. Carimi might answer that question himself. Last week, it appeared he needed some additional recovery time, and at some point you wonder about the value of bringing back an offensive linemen who now hasn't played in nearly two months. But both Spencer and Louis seem to be handling themselves more than adequately. Monday night, tailback Matt Forte gained 7.9 yards per carry on runs to the right side and this season, he has an NFL-high 7.3-yard average on runs to that direction.