PFW associate editor Dan Parr gives his stock analysis of the Bears and identifies who, or what, is on the rise or decline following their Week Six win over the Vikings.
Jay Cutler's well being — He took five hits, but was sacked only once Sunday night. Cutler lobbied publicly Wednesday for Mike Martz to alter his play-calling and come up with a game plan that wouldn't leave him so vulnerable to taking hits. Martz gave him what he wanted. The Bears featured short drops and quick-hitting passes, mixed in a steady diet of Matt Forté and Marion Barber in the running game, used max-protection more often and sent help to the offensive tackles when the situation called for it.
OLT J'Marcus Webb — Faced with the tremendous challenge of blocking the league leader in sacks, Webb did a pretty good job of containing Jared Allen. Allen had a strip-sack of Cutler in the third quarter, but Webb had a much better game Sunday after racking up three false-start penalties and struggling against the Lions. Webb had the tough task of transitioning from right to left tackle in a shortened offseason and the concern heading into Sunday was that he didn't seem to be improving. A very solid performance vs. Allen eases concerns.
DT Stephen Paea — A second-round pick earlier this year, Paea made his presence felt Sunday in his first NFL game. He was credited with sacking Donovan McNabb in the endzone for a safety in the first quarter of his debut. After being deactivated in each of the first five games, Paea might have earned himself a spot in the rotation for at least a couple more games with his performance.
Doom and gloom — A lot of fans, understandably, were down on the Bears after the Monday-night loss to the Lions, but, as Lovie Smith pointed out Monday, his team has an opportunity to have the same record that it did last season through seven games. The Bears weren't chasing two teams in their division last season, but they did start 4-3 and will face an inconsistent Buccaneers team in London on Sunday. No one is running away with wild-card spots in the NFC. The Bears aren't a great team, but their postseason hopes are very much alive.
SS Chris Harris — One week after the Bears were excited to get Harris back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three games and into the starting lineup vs. the Lions, they are considering parting ways with him before the trade deadline. Harris has been granted permission to seek a trade, but said he won't request to be released if he's not dealt. Lovie Smith said Harris is still a part of the team Monday, but he didn't have much use for him vs. the Vikings, deactivating him for the game even though he probably could have played through his nagging hamstring injury.
FS Brandon Meriweather — Meriweather was the only active Bears player Sunday that didn't get into the game. Like Harris, he has been replaced in the starting lineup and while it's certainly possible that Meriweather will get another shot to play this season, it's unlikely he'll be starting again if things keep going well for Chicago and Major Wright and Chris Conte stay healthy. Meriweather has quickly fallen out of favor because of his undisciplined play.
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