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Across The Middle — Week Nine

| November 2nd, 2016

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There were a lot of reasons why the Bears beat the Vikings. The biggest is the simplest: the Bears had a QB who could make plays under duress and the Vikings didn’t.

That’s right, Jay Cutler is back and he reminded us all why the talk of moving on from him is premature (and probably stupid).

Everyone wants to talk about the arm but the arm isn’t what makes Cutler so good. Against arguably the best defense in the NFL, without his two best offensive linemen and two of his three or four best receivers, Cutler was in complete control. After a shaky start, he threw strike after strike, converting third down after third down, time after time.

When the shit hit the fan — and it did quite often — Cutler stayed cool and made the throws he needed to make. The Bears came into the game as one of the worst third-down offenses in the league. Thry were 7-for-14 against the Vikings.

This came days after a report that John Fox was “done” with Cutler. The report clearly got to the quarterback, who showed as much emotion as he ever has, including an somewhat teary embrace with QB Coach Dave Ragone after the Bears clinched the win.

I don’t know if these last eight games will be Cutler’s last with the team. I don’t think anybody really knows. But Cutler has the ability to control his own destiny. And regardless of what anyone in the front office thinks, it has been made crystal clear that the guys in the locker room love him.

If Cutler keeps playing like he did Monday night and like he has for most of the last two seasons, the Bears would be crazy to move on for an unknown.

Rumor Has It

There was a lot of leaked information from Halas Hall last week and, quite honestly, I’m not sure if any of it is true.

First we had the report that Fox told friends he was “done” with Cutler. The notion sounds ridiculous. Was Fox at a party drinking a Spotted Cow when he leaned over to a friend and said “Pssst…I’m done with Jay.” And not only is he supposed to have done that, but he told someone who would’ve told Mike Mulligan.  Kind of far-fetched, eh?

Then, they were trading Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles for a fourth round pick. I’ve been as vocal as anyone in saying the Bears don’t value Jeffery like a lot of fans do (Monday night was a good example of why that is), but with Kevin White still unknown and on the shelf, they can’t move on from Jeffery. Certainly not for a fourth round pick, when they’d likely do better with a compensatory pick if he left as a free agent.

Ian Rapoport said the Jeffery trade rumors weren’t true, then dropped a bomb reporting the Bears’ management was looking into an outside source and indicated they were considering firing Fox. If this rumor were to be true, my guess is the outside source (in my head it’s Bill Parcells) would look at George McCaskey and Ted Phillips and tell him bluntly: his best players are all hurt. Then he’d walk out of the room.

Of course, those are all more credible than the rumor that Ted Phillips called Fox into his office and demanded that he not play Cutler.

Miller Time

The Trib spent all offseason telling us about how the Bears didn’t replace Martellus Bennett but Zach Miller sure looks like he has replaced him.

Miller has already set a career high with 40 receptions and is on pace to have around 800 yards and six touchdowns, numbers Bennett topped just once in his career with the Bears.

Had the Bears chosen to keep Bennett, Miller likely would’ve signed elsewhere. He’d older and has had durability issues, but Miller is a grinder and the kind of player the Bears should always try to keep.

A Star is Born (Again)

Jordan Howard’s game log doesn’t make sense unless he was injured:

Game One: 131 yards from scrimmage, 4.8 YPC, 26 touches

Game Two: 163 yards from scrimmage, 7.4 YPC, 19 touches

Games Three and Four Combined: 62 yards from scrimmage, 2.5 YPC, 24 touches

Game Five: 202 yards from scrimmage, 5.9 YPC, 30 touches

He had to have been hurt in Games Three and Four, right? Why else would Ka’Deem Carey have received as much playing time? Regardless, he’s still on pace to top 1,000 yards rushing this season. Not bad for a fifth round pick.

Charting The Bears

• The pass rush was about what I expected as I had the front seven players down for 16 QB disruptions. Pernell McPhee and Akiem Hicks tied for the team-lead with four, while Lenny Floyd and Cornelius Washington both had three. They’re hard to block, especially for a team like the Vikings.

• The Bears line play wasn’t as good as I initially thought. I had the Bears’ line down for allowing 12 QB disruptions as Charles Leno struggled all game, giving up five in addition to a false start. They also were responsible for six bad runs — three by Ted Larsen — and it would’ve been more if not for Howard’s vision and ability to drag defenders with him. I had Howard down for eight broken tackles in the game.

• After four inaccurate passes i the first quarter, I had Cutler down for just two the rest of the game.

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