What We Learned Sunday Afternoon

It was a very puzzling contest to watch Sunday, as the Bears found a way to lose despite being in control from start to finish. Losing to the Giants was devastating to their slim playoff hopes, and Bear Report came away from Soldier Field with five important observations from the game.

1. Offensive line is the No. 1 priority heading into the offseason
Adrian Peterson didn't have any more success running the football in his first start than Cedric Benson did, gaining just 67 yards on 22 carries. Rex Grossman played a pretty solid game under center and threw for a season-high 296 yards on 25-of-46 passing, but he was sacked six times and lost 52 yards in the process. And while tackle John St. Clair and guard Terrence Metcalf are experienced backups who can step into the starting lineup at a moment's notice when needed, the two of them are backups for a reason – neither is good enough to be a full-time first-stringer in the National Football League.

All-Pro center Olin Kreutz is still one of the best in the business despite having a down season, but you can make a strong case that both guard positions as well as both tackles need to be upgraded through free agency and the draft before 2008.

2. Harris isn't going to be right again until he can fully heal
Tommie Harris has been brilliant in spots this season, racking up seven sacks from his defensive tackle position and periodically blowing up plays in the backfield with his lightning-quick first step. But his health has deteriorated with each passing game, forcing defensive coordinator Bob Babich to use him as a part-time player in pass-rushing situations because he's ineffective for the most part against the run. Harris was credited with just one tackle Sunday against the Giants, plus he's been held sack-less since he got to Detroit's Jon Kitna in Week 8.

75 percent of Harris is still better than most D-tackles in this league, but the Pro Bowler needs a full offseason's worth of rest before he can return to his usual dominating self.

3. It's inexcusable that Wolfe didn't see any action on offense


RB Garrett Wolfe
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Rookie running back Garrett Wolfe was projected to be a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick in this past April's draft, but GM Jerry Angelo simply had to have him and took the Chicago native off the board near the end of Round 3. The organization raved about him during the offseason program, and offensive coordinator Ron Turner promised that he would have a package of plays ready to take advantage of Wolfe's speed and elusiveness both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. However, even with Benson on the shelf for the rest of the season and Peterson not used to being an every-down back, Wolfe was limited to special teams duty Sunday against the Giants even though Peterson was plodding along at a pedestrian 3.0 yards per carry.

Not to mention the fact that the Midway Monsters have to turn around and play Thursday night at Washington on just three days rest, so beating up Peterson while not giving Wolfe at least a series or two makes even less sense.

4. Ogunleye is the unquestioned defensive MVP of this team in 2007
Adewale Ogunleye came to the Bears in a trade with the Dolphins before the 2004 season, and while he's been a solid player for the most part, rarely has he truly been a difference maker from his defensive end position. However, the former Indiana Hoosier has been on a mission this year, leading the team with nine sacks and six forced fumbles, plus he's also tops on the team in tackles among defensive linemen with 46. There were whispers that Ogunleye could have been a salary cap casualty before the season because he's a big-money player that produced just 6.5 sacks in 2006, but he worked extra hard in the offseason to trim up his body and has seen tremendous results on the field.

Ogunleye is enjoying his best season since he went to the Pro Bowl with Miami in 2003, and voters should be sending him back to Hawaii once again.

5. The no-huddle offense was working and should have been used a lot more
Much to everyone's surprise at Soldier Field, especially the Giants defense, the Bears opened up with a no-huddle offense on their first drive of the ballgame. The strategy worked, as Grossman led the team right down the field and ultimately hit tight end Desmond Clark on a 1-yard touchdown toss off play-action. But instead of continuing the momentum and making it harder for New York to get defensive substitutions on the field, head coach Lovie Smith refused to let Grossman go no-huddle the rest of the game and saw his offense sputter down the stretch as a result.

Smith said in the postgame press conference that the no-huddle approach was simply a change-up and wouldn't have been effective if employed all game long, but it would have made much more sense to keep running it until the G-Men proved that they could stop it.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


  • Is Devin Hester already the greatest return man ever?
  • An interview with running backs coach Tim Spencer
  • Ed "The Claw" Sprinkle: The Oldest Living Bear
  • A look at the autobiography Sayers: My Life and Times
  • Getting to know third-year quarterback Kyle Orton
  • All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...

    BEAR REPORT, the only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears ... CLICK HERE to subscribe today


    Bear Report Top Stories