Bears

Forte return: Looking like playoffs

604348.png

Forte return: Looking like playoffs

Dont look for Matt Forte under the Bears Christmas tree. The franchise running back told ESPNChicago.com that realistically, playoffs would be the only thing I would have my mind set on."

Forte suffered a left knee sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs, an injury that typically as a 2-6 week range for recovery. He is receiving therapy but the reality is that the return is more likely toward the long side.
Duly noted
Seattle quarterbacks have been sacked 41 times this season, 33 of them suffered by Tavaris Jackson. Only Arizona, Miami, Minnesota and St. Louis, all with losing records, have given up as many or more. The Bears have allowed 38 and nearly one-fifth (7) of those came in the Kansas City debacle

Few teams have been consistently as good as the bears against the run. But cracks are beginning to show. The defense allowed 100 rushing yards in just one of the five wins that pushed them to 7-3 but has given up 73, 113 and 124 in the last three games, and the three losses were to teams (Oakland, Kansas City, Denver) that were willing to stick to the run even without dramatic success. Oakland ran 27 times, Kansas City 37 and Denver 34.

The Bears controlled Willis McGahee in Denver (17 carries, 34 yards), held off Dexter McCluster of Kansas City (9 carries, 61 yards) and shut down Michael Bush in Oakland (24 carries, 69 yards).

But no back in the NFL has been more effective over the last six games than Seattles Marshawn Lynch, who has 706 rushing yards and has scored seven touchdowns (six rushing) over those six games.

Tim Tebow, bumblebee
When you switch over from the Bears game to Denver-at-New England, consider what youre watching.

The trashing of Tim Tebow is trending down pretty much just sour-grape grumping that the Denver Broncos leader isnt really an NFL quarterback. Never mind the six straight wins and seven in his last eight starts.

Tebow is just your basic bumblebee. A bumblebee by all laws of biology and physics cannot fly. Cannot. But it does give a very convincing imitation of it, wouldnt you say?

You know Tebow. Poor technique, not a particularly accurate passer, limited in so many areas not really an NFL quarterback. Pretty good imitation, though, wouldnt you say?

And so

There was going to be no way the 7-3 Bears could lose all three remaining games to AFC West teams. But they did, even to a Kansas City Chiefs team that fired its coach after the following game. The Bears cant pass very well, havent run the ball anything consistently close to what they did with Matt Forte, and in a disturbing pattern that typically defines losers, have found ways to lose.

The Seattle Seahawks have been the opposite, winning four of their last five. But while the Bears were playing Oakland and Denver with a virtual rookie quarterback, the Seahawks were playing the woeful Rams twice plus Redskins and Eagles opponents with a combined 13-37 record, counting the Rams twice.

The Bears are not the Rams. This will be the third time the Seahawks are playing in Chicago in the last 14 months and they arrived Friday to mitigate the effects of travel across time zones. It wont be enough.

Bears 16 Seahawks 13

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Chicago Bears left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. deserves a lot of credit. After starting his career as a seventh-round pick and something of a longshot to ever earn a starting job, he's become an irreplaceable fixture at the most important position along the offensive line.

The four-year, $38 million contract extension he signed last offseason is evidence of that.

Despite his value to the Bears, Leno is still somewhat underrated across league circles. That may be about to change.

Leno was recently named Chicago's best-kept secret.

Leno has consistently improved as a pass protector since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2014 and is now one of the team's top 10 players. If he hit the open market, Leno might be a $60 million player with the way the offensive line market is exploding. Over the next four years, the Bears should save about $20 million on the market price for their starting-caliber left tackle.

Leno has enjoyed steady improvement since his rookie season. His grades from Pro Football Focus reflect that: 53.6 (2014), 56.3 (2015), 71.2 (2016) and 80.4 (2017). 

The Bears' offensive line is poised for a big season in 2018. Leno and Bobby Massie are back as starters at tackle. Rookie second-round pick James Daniels will pair with Kyle Long at guard and third-year pro, Cody Whitehair, will get back to focusing on being the team's starting center.

If Leno's trend of improved play continues, he's a great candidate to go from best-kept secret to league star in 2018.

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.