The Bears have the quick turnaround this week with their first ever home appearance on NFL Network Thursday against New Orleans.
Four days to prepare for the next game is never easy for any club but the Bears' home-field advantage could be magnified here and we're not even going to bother getting in to the overdone story regarding the weather and how cold it could be come kickoff at Soldier Field. New Orleans is a completely different team away from the Superdome. The Saints are 1-5 on the road and that poor record away from home will be put further to the test in this meeting.
Players and coaches are in meetings today reviewing the 23-10 victory over Jacksonville and laying a little groundwork for the gameplan this week. There will be a regular practice Tuesday and then a walk-through Wednesday. That's it. Before we move forward, some quick thoughts on the game Sunday:
*** The only thing that would have been better for the Bears than a victory by Detroit on Sunday was the return to form of Kyle Orton. He looked sharp and would have been even sharper had his receivers not suffered from a case of the dropsies. Orton made one bad throw the entire game and had command. Yes, the offense stunk in the second half with four three-and-punts, but the game was over. It was 20-3 and the Jaguars had packed it in. Those clamoring about the poor performance in the second half need to realize Jacksonville never got back into that game.
*** Mark Anderson registered his first sack of the season and the first full sack he's had in 24 regular-season games. Anderson is a humble, hard worker and if sacks do come in bunches, maybe he has a few waiting for him. I'm not sure there's been a real sign that Anderson is due to break out, however. He did have a solid game at St. Louis but at this point you have to wonder where it all went wrong when he was forced into the starting lineup last season.
*** This Danieal Manning experiment as the kickoff returner looks like it is going to become a permanent thing. He should have caught the one kickoff that bounced in front of him--wind could not have been a factor--but his shot-out-of-a-cannon approach has breathed some life into the return game.
*** Everybody catch that stiff arm Maurice Jones-Drew delivered to Mike Brown along the Jaguars' sideline? Watching the Bears every week it's tough to see much of Jones-Drew in action. He is a talented back.
*** The field-position woes that haunted the Bears in the past month were turned on Jacksonville by punter Brad Maynard. He's got a knack for performing well in bad weather.
*** So if the rib injury to Marty Booker sidelines him, and we've seen him come back from a lot of injuries in his first stay with the Bears, does rookie third-round pick Earl Bennett get a chance or will it go to Brandon Rideau? Rideau certainly did more on the field in preseason and there's got to be an explanation for why the coaching staff is so hesitant to deploy Bennett. One reason cannot be because of the production of the unit as a whole, even though the coaching staff will try to sell you that. It has to come down to they have simply not felt comfortable putting him on the field on offense.
*** Maybe the Bears pulled the trigger on Darrell McClover's season a little early. The linebacker was placed on injured reserve two weeks ago with a pulled hamstring. He said he probably could have played Sunday when he left the locker room after the game. He'd be mighty useful now with Garrett Wolfe hobbled by a hamstring injury of his own. As much as Wolfe was limping afterward, it would be no surprise if he misses the final three games. Putting McClover down could prove to be a miscalculation.
*** The Dusty Dvoracek supporters were given something to consider for the second straight week when Anthony Adams looked like a starting-quality defensive tackle. Adams has turned in 14 tackles in the last two weeks, a figure to be adjusted when coaches' review of the action comes out later today. The only reason imaginable he wasn't used earlier by a defense in need was because he didn't have draft status in these parts.
*** Cornerback Corey Graham quietly had another strong outing. He's looking better and better every week and now comes perhaps his biggest test with the Saints marching in.
*** Discipline, or lack of it, was an issue earlier in the season for the Bears. All you have to do is recall back to the disastrous outing vs. Tampa Bay. But the Bears had just one penalty for five yards against the Jaguars and have 23 in their last six games. That's not bad.