It is really hard to get excited about a team that hadn’t won a game through the first few weeks. Sure, the optimistic fan will point out the injury to Cutler and the receivers. You won’t win many games when you start Jimmy Clausen. However, with two weeks in a row of pulling out close victories, fans may have a reason to tune in again. Is this team trending up? Can I start my fantasy players from their roster? We’ll answer those questions and more as we dive into the Week 5 game film of the Bears vs the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bears started this game with Marquess Wilson as their number one receiver. Right off the bat, the offensive line was getting enough push for short but positive runs, but the lack of a vertical passing attack led to a short, scoreless drives. Naturally, when the Bears were forced up against their own goal-line, Cutler kept the ball for what would have been a safety had he not coughed up the ball for a Chiefs defensive touchdown on the fumble recovery. This type of decision making is something that has routinely plagued the Bears’ QB. He led the league last year in interceptions and fumbles, combining for a league’s worst 24 turnovers.
When the Bears ran on first, and weren’t flagged, they found regular success. Matt Forte is once again proving to be a very underrated back, finding holes that even the other backs on the team aren’t seeing. His playmaking ability and his reliability in the pass game came through on a 3rd and 18 screen where Forte not only evaded several defenders but drove several of them with him across the line to gain on the Bears’ first scoring drive of the day. Forte is leading the league in carries with 84 and is 8th in targets (20) among running backs.
Luckily for the Bears, Alex Smith and his OPEN receivers looked out of sync early, leading to several drops that led to punts, but that didn’t stop them from pulling off a screen of their own that led to an easy score for Chiefs receiver De’Anthony Thomas, who had only six catches heading into this game. This was only the second time a Chiefs receiver had caught a touchdown in the last two seasons and does not make him a viable fantasy option.
Alex Smith fell in love with Jeremy Maclin in the first half two-minute drill. This seems to be a recurrence when the team is playing to beat the clock or playing from behind like last week. Maclin is by far Smith’s best option at receiver and is most likely to be open and able to get out of bounds to kill the clock. You can see Smith eying Kelce as well, but he is often in the middle of the field or the endzone dragging defenders when the clock is less of a concern. Both Kelce and Maclin are safe starts the rest of the season in fantasy.
Before the non-contact injury Charles looked shifty, but it helped that players like the Bears’ Shea McClellin continuously over-pursued the back even when help was present, leaving cut-backs and big yardage the Kansas City backs. Following the injury to Charles the new lead appeared to be Charcandrick West, not the preseason handcuff Knile Davis. I’m guessing most fantasy league owners dropped Davis after his two games without an offensive snap, but West should be the top waiver pickup this week, especially if initial reports are true that Charles could be done for the season.
One bright spot on the Bears defense was the play of defensive end Sam Acho. He consistently wrapped up running backs and made some plays in the backfield. Pernell McPhee still appears to be the Bears’ best defensive and special teams weapon, blocking the would-be field goal in the 3rd quarter.
After the field goal was blocked, momentum began to swing. The Bears successfully leaned on early down success behind Forte as well as some impressive short routes to Bellamy who managed to create yards after the catch. It makes sense as to why the staff is calling screens and quick plays for him, while sending Wilson on the deep comebacks. It would be forgivable if Cutler was struggling because his receivers are not talented enough to get open, but he routinely passed up the open early option in order to try and pound it through two defenders to players in the middle like Bennett. Unfortunately, when Bennett was wide open up the sideline Jay overthrew him on what could have been a touchdown late in the game.
Jay Cutler is tough to analyze because he continues to make these questionable plays where he throws off his back foot and relies completely on his arm strength and what appears to be little accuracy. However, his touchdown pass to Wilson (bringing the Bears within 5 points) was about as perfect a throw as you can make, and of course he threw that off his back foot as well.
The defense made a great stand, including a Tracy Porter pass breakup on Maclin that led to the punt. I think the incompletion was also due to the generosity of Smith again throwing behind his slanting receiver and could have been caught if on time.
The offense got some much needed help from a defensive pass interference call on third down and a couple impressive catches from wideout Cameron Meredith (also not fantasy relevant) on the final game winning drive. However, I noticed a couple of huge drops from Bennett and Bellamy, but it was hard to tell if the ball was tipped by coverage prior. In typical Jay/Bears fashion, he fumbled a low snap but had the wherewithal to know Forte’s route and hit him perfectly on an outward wheel route for the game-winning touchdown. If anything it shows how frustrating but talented Cutler can be. It also shows that Forte is still the best player on this team.
That game could have very easily ended on that fumble, but instead today we are talking about a Bears team that went into Kansas City and won on the road. It’s also worth mentioning that with 11 seconds the Bears defense (no thanks to a facemask by the special teams) then allowed the Smith-Maclin connection to get the Chiefs a shot at a 57-yard field goal, which was pushed back to 66-yard field goal try after a review that showed an open Maclin bobbled the ball on his way out of bounds. Yes, the kicker came up well short, but those are the kind of mistakes that could easily erase a game-winning drive.
The Bears are struggling, but at least they are beating the lower-end teams on their schedule. Losing to Green Bay, Arizona, and Seattle is nothing to be surprised about. The schedule can only get easier from there, but when you turn the ball over the way Jay is known for, you can lose to anyone. It’s clear the answer to the QB position is not on the team, but when you pay someone as much as this organization paid Cutler
to be an inconsistent passer, you have to roll with him. Detroit, Minnesota, and San Diego are all very beatable opponents in the next three games and should tell us all we need to know about the 2015 Bears. I think my most optimistic prediction would have them winning 2 of the next 3 to put them at .500 halfway through the season.
As far as fantasy goes, Marquess Wilson is fairly trustworthy until Alshon returns. He now has gone two weeks in a row with 6 catches and 80+ yards, but Cutler worries me. The Chiefs were giving up the most points to fantasy quarterbacks heading into this week, so Cutler proves to be safe in favorable matchups. The Lions are a favorable matchup, allowing the 8th most points to the position through the first four weeks. However, his following matchups are significantly further down the ranks. If you own him, you need another QB to target the better weekly matchups, especially until Cutler’s receivers are healthy.