What We Learned: Bears vs. Seahawks

After a slow start in the Emerald City, the Chicago Bears did what they had to after halftime to come away with a 25-19 W. There is reason for optimism, but there are also a few causes for concern. What did we learn at Qwest Field? Start with these five observations ...

1. Omiyale needs to be benched in favor of Beekman right now
Not that Josh Beekman looked to be on his way to a Pro Bowl career or anything this past season, but he proved to be a dependable blocker between Olin Kreutz and John St. Clair at the left guard position. Theoretically, since nobody will argue against Orlando Pace being light years better than St. Clair, even at this advanced stage of his career, it's logical to assume Beekman only would have improved having the future Hall of Famer on his port side. Frank Omiyale, on the other hand, has been terrible for three straight games and seems to be picking himself up off the turf just as often as Matt Forte.

The Midway Monsters are more of a passing team than ever these days with the talented Jay Cutler at the controls, but eventually he's going to need the support of a sound running game – especially with three home dates in December.


LB Lance Briggs
Getty Images: Otto Greule Jr.

2. Briggs has stepped up his game in Urlacher's absence
Earlier in his career, even though he was making Pro Bowls and earning hefty raises along the way, Lance Briggs was little more than a sound tackler and didn't offer much in terms of big plays. He recorded a grand total of 6.0 sacks and nine interceptions in six seasons, four of them worthy of a trip to Hawaii, seemingly content to rack up tackles at a dizzying pace from his spot on the weak side while letting Brian Urlacher come up with the highlight reel-worthy plays in the middle. But now Briggs is playing the best football of his career with Urlacher shelved on injured reserve due to a bad wrist, recording both a sack and an INT in a terrific performance Sunday against the Seahawks.

Not only is Briggs well on his way to a fifth straight Pro Bowl, but he's helping Hunter Hillenmeyer, Nick Roach and Jamar Williams fill in the blanks capably with Urlacher on the sideline.

3. Don't start thinking that Hester is a No. 1 receiver just yet
While Devin Hester has been pretty good so far as the primary target in the passing game, catching at least four passes in all three outings and scoring a touchdown in Weeks 1 and 3, he's got a long way to go before he's up there with the likes of legitimate No. 1s Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. Fortunately for the Bears, they don't need Hester to be a classic No. 1 because the offense wouldn't be nearly as efficient if he had to reel in eight or nine passes per contest. Actually, the Chicago air attack looked quite good Sunday in Seattle because Cutler spread the ball around liberally, with Hester, Forte, Earl Bennett and Greg Olsen all recording between four and six receptions.

Say what you will about Brandon Marshall being the No. 1 Cutler needed in Denver, but even a physical freak like Marshall had help from fellow wideout Eddie Royal, tight end Tony Scheffler and a host of quality backs.


CB Zack Bowman
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

4. More aggressive calls on defense helping the secondary
Even though it's quite common for a coach with a background as an offensive coordinator to call his own plays on offense, like Andy Reid has done for quite some time in Philadelphia, it's rare for a coach with a background as a defensive coordinator to call his own plays on defense, like Lovie Smith has done here in Chicago so far this year. Not only have the results been solid through three games, with the Bears ninth in the NFL in total defense and only surrendering 18 points per game, but you have to like the way Smith kept bringing the heat on Seneca Wallace on Seattle's final possession instead of hanging back in a prevent zone. As a result, a shaky secondary is giving up less than 200 yards per game through the air – 198.7 to be exact.

It's very interesting to see opponents throwing in the direction of Charles Tillman and staying away from Zack Bowman, which lends credence to the hypothesis that the younger Bowman is a star on the rise.

5. Sleeping on the Lions before the bye would be a bad idea
Detroit won a football game Sunday for the first time since December of 2007, with Brett Favre retiring twice and playing for three different teams in the time between those wins. The Bears are 2-1 after three games and would be ecstatic finishing the first quarter of the season 3-1 heading into the bye, with a chance to get healthier on both sides of the ball – Desmond Clark and Pisa Tinoisamoa should be back in Week 6 at Atlanta. While the Monsters of the Midway will likely be double-digit favorites over the Lions and offer better personnel from top to bottom, quarterback Matthew Stafford has a cannon for an arm, running back Kevin Smith is better than the experts think and receiver Calvin Johnson is a nightmare of a matchup for any defensive backfield.

Smith and Co. must get to the bye 3-1, and not just because they will at least keep pace with both the Vikings and Packers in the NFC North, but 2-2 following a home loss to the Motor City Kitties would send them to the division cellar.


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


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