First quarter awardsSeptember 29th, 2008 - 6:48 pm
Lovie Smith likes to break the season up into quarters, and with the first quarter of the season in the books, here’s a look at some of the Bears’ top players and the awards I would give out if I had the divine authority to do so.
Most Valuable Player
Matt Forte, RB
I don’t think anybody could have expected the type of impact Forte has had for the Bears’ offense. As a second round pick — and a draft pick of Jerry Angelo, who hasn’t had a lot of success selecting offensive players — there weren’t a lot of expectations from Forte, even though his teammates thought highly of him. And it’s simply phenomenal the way he’s handled himself as a rookie with increased pressure on him to be an every-down player and carry the load for this offense. But Forte is currently 6th in the league in rushing, and that ranking will likely improve, because it took a dip this week after facing the best run defense in the league. If Forte continues at this pace, he’ll have a good shot at the rookie of the year award, but he’ll have competition with Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, among others. If it weren’t for Forte, this team would not be 2-2 right now and this offense would probably be awful.
Offensive Player of the Quarter
Kyle Orton, QB
Aside from Forte, Orton has been the most valuable player on offense. We all knew he wouldn’t make dumb mistakes — aside from the screen pass he fired right to Gaines Adams against Tampa Bay — but he has been able to make several plays to help keep the offense balanced. While he still has trouble connecting on the deep patterns, he’s made smart decisions for the most part and has looked to be in control of this offense, well-deserving of his captain role. If the Bears are to continue winning games against tough teams like Indianapolis and Philadelphia, they’ll need Orton to shore up his deep passes a little bit more and continue to play with poise. He had a bad case of turnovers in the second half against Philadelphia, but that came against one of the best defenses in the league and his offensive line caused a few of those.
Defensive Player of the Quarter
Alex Brown, DE
This was a difficult award to choose. So many players have had big impacts. Charles Tillman has punched the ball loose a couple times and currently leads in tackles, according to the Bears’ website. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have been solid as usual. Adewale Ogunleye had a fantastic game against Indianapolis, and Mike Brown has made a huge impact in the defensive backfield, including registering a sack and — according to the Bears’ coaches — recording 17 tackles against the Buccaneers. So the only way I could pick from the whole bunch is to choose the most consistent player on the defense. There is very little difference from Brown’s best game to his worst game. He leads the Bears with 2 sacks, made a fantastic goal line play against the Eagles, which ensured the Bears would be 2-2 and not 1-3, and has played good football through all four games.
Comeback Player of the Quarter
Dusty Dvoracek, DT
It’s no wonder why the Bears have had so much patience with Dvoracek through two injury-filled seasons. Dvoracek’s presence in the lineup causes problems for the middle of the opponent’s offensive line. Dvoracek’s teammates credit him with making their jobs easier and creating havoc in the backfield. Let’s hope he stays healthy for the whole year, because aside from Tommie Harris’ injury problems, Dvoracek’s absence would really hurt their run defense, and probably make things more difficult for the pass rush, as well.
Surprise Player of the Quarter
John St. Clair, OT
He hasn’t exactly played flawless, but St. Clair has played well enough not to be a hindrance to the offense. He’s had to play against the likes of Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers and he’s done an admirable job as a journeyman thrust into the starting left tackle role. If St. Clair were as bad as pundits predicted he’d be in the preseason, Forte would not be as good as he’s been and Orton would’ve been on his back looking up at the sky more often — and quite possibly on the sideline with an injury.