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 11 win over the Chargers.
Caleb Hanie's profile — The spotlight is shining brightly on the Bears' backup quarterback following the news of Jay Cutler's thumb injury. Head coach Lovie Smith was adamant that Cutler's thumb surgery, which could take place as early as Tuesday, will not end his season. It appears the starting job is Hanie's for at least the next four or five games, though. Hanie, who has 34 career passing attempts, including last season's NFC championship game, will make his first career start Sunday in Oakland.
Wide receivers — Sunday was the best game of the season for WRs Roy Williams and Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett had another solid outing, too. Williams had a season-high five catches for 62 yards and Knox had a season-high 97 yards along with an amazing touchdown catch to give the Bears a 31-17 lead in the third quarter. Sunday marked the first game this season that three different Bears wide receivers had 60 yards receiving or more.
CB Corey Graham — We're accustomed to seeing Graham make great plays on special teams, and he did again on Sunday, downing a punt at the Chargers' 3-yard line, but he also stood out on defense. Graham typically is used only on special teams, but he was involved on defense against the Chargers with nickel back D.J. Moore inactive because of injury. Graham made the game-sealing interception with a little less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. He will return to his usual role when Moore returns, but tape from Sunday's game will come in handy when he hits free agency this offseason and looks for an opportunity where he'll be used more on defense.
Help for Matt Forté, defense and special teams — Jay Cutler has been playing some of the best football of his career in recent weeks, and his absence threatens to stop the momentum the Bears had built during their five-game winning streak. Caleb Hanie is mobile, but he can't make some of the throws that Cutler can. The schedule is manageable the rest of the way, but the Bears, who looked like a lock to make the playoffs as a wild card, are going to need even more from Forté, the defense and special teams in order to make the postseason push with Hanie under center.
Pass rush — We figured the Bears' pass rush would be very disruptive against a Chargers' offensive line that was missing three starters. Philip Rivers had been sacked six times and was hit six other times in Week 10 against the Raiders, but the Bears didn't sack Rivers once Sunday and were credited with hitting him only once. Rivers helped the Bears out by throwing two awful interceptions, but Julius Peppers, who had the lone hit on Rivers, and Co. are going to have to do a better job of affecting opposing quarterbacks.
CB Charles Tillman — The talk about getting Tillman to his first Pro Bowl, which was discussed quite a bit after he did a good job of keeping Calvin Johnson in check in Week 10, is going to die down. Chargers WR Vincent Jackson beat Tillman over and over again Sunday and racked up seven catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. Tillman still managed to make one of the biggest plays of the game by forcing and recovering Ryan Mathews' fumble. However, he struggled mightily in coverage.
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