Stock Watch: Take Paea to the bank

With two sacks Sunday, Stephen Paea now has six on the season, second on the Bears' defense. Brian Kersey/Getty Images


1. Stephen Paea: The defensive tackle wrecked the interior of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line to record two sacks in the Chicago Bears' 21-13 victory Sunday. The stout fourth-year player is now second on the defense with six sacks. It’s a contract year for Paea, who’s started all 11 games. Paea is a powerful player -- his accomplishments in the weight room are legendary. But he's had problems staying healthy, missing nine games over his first three years due to a variety of ailments. Now the Bears are finally seeing Paea begin to reach his full potential. From my vantage point, Paea seems like a safe investment -- for the proper price. He works extremely hard in the offseason and is viewed as one of the good guys in the Bears' locker room. Paea is a remarkable story. The 26-year-old didn't even know how to speak English when he moved to the United States from Tonga at age 16. Paea successfully overcame the language barrier and is currently one of the most accessible and thoughtful players inside the building. Think about that nugget the next time a player slides out the side door following a tough loss, or cuts short a news conference after two minutes.

2. Matt Forte: Forte reached several milestones in Week 12. His two rushing touchdowns versus the Bucs gave Forte 40 for his career, moving him past Hall of Famer Gayle Sayers (39) for fourth place in franchise history. Forte also joined Curtis Martin and LaDainian Tomlinson as the only players in NFL history to reach 1,400 yards from scrimmage in each of his first seven NFL seasons. With five games left, Forte sits at 1,420 all-purpose yards through 12 games (822 rushing and 598 receiving). The tailback is on the verge of breaking his single-season team record for receptions by a running back (74) -- he currently leads the Bears with 72 catches. Without question, Forte is the best player on Chicago's offense.

3. Entire defense: The Bears have held consecutive opponents to 13 points. Atlanta scored only 13 points versus the Bears in the Georgia Dome. The Bears kept Buffalo, San Francisco and the New York Jets to 23 points or fewer. The defense battered and pestered Bucs quarterback Josh McCown the entire afternoon, forcing four turnovers and recording five sacks. Only one phase of the team can say it has shown up for work almost every week (with New England and Green Bay notable exceptions). Can you name the phase? Here’s a hint: It's not the offense or special teams.

4. Marc Mariani: Mariani needs to return kicks until further notice. The five-year veteran made good decisions Sunday. Mariani is a professional with a proven track record of success at the NFL level (2010 Pro Bowl selection with Tennessee). The Bears need more guys with experience on special teams.


1. Entire offense (minus Forte): Burn the tapes. All of them. Film study can't help the Bears. There is no logical way to explain Chicago's woes on offense. Jay Cutler -- paid. Brandon Marshall -- paid. Martellus Bennett -- paid. Forte -- paid. Jermon Bushrod -- paid. Alshon Jeffery -- looking to get paid. What is the problem? Coach Marc Trestman's background is offense. Aaron Kromer is a top-flight offensive assistant. Same with Matt Cavanaugh. Wide receivers coach Mike Groh sure looks to be a riser in the business. What is going on here? The franchise will not move forward until the powers that be figure out why the offense has sputtered in 2014. Too much money has been spent to get these kinds of results. It's downright embarrassing.

2. Brandon Marshall: Three penalties in the first half (one declined) is unacceptable. Marshall owned up to his mistakes in the postgame locker room. It can't happen again. Penalties are a major issue for the Bears, who lack focus and discipline in crucial moments. Marshall is far from the lone culprit, but his miscues were particularly glaring against Tampa.