Khaseem Greene, Darryl Sharpton, Christian Jones, Ego Furguson, Will Sutton and Demontre Hurst.
If I had told you at the beginning of the season these young players would all be starting for the Chicago Bears defense and would hold the Atlanta Falcons offense to just 13 points, you may have given me a rather quizzical look.The same look I had when I heard they were making Taken 3.
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The Atlanta offense powered by Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Stephen Jackson, Harry Douglas and former Bear Devin Hester.
The lone touchdown on the day for Atlanta came on an Antoine Smith burst. Something he's done in every game thus far this season. But aside from that, the Falcons were only able to add another pair of field goals.
For the past couple of seasons, the Chicago Bears 'slogan' on their team website has been "Do you believe in monsters?"
And for a lot of that time, the answer was no. Last season especially, the Bears gave us hope. Jay Cutler was rolling, and even when he went down, veteran journeyman Josh McCown came in to throw for 13 touchdowns and just one interception in eight games for the Bears.
Last year's problem
It was the defense that let them down. Finishing 30th in total defense and dead-last against the run, crucially finding a way to throw away the final game of the season to the Green Bay Packers at the death to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs after a 5-3 start.
Both the Bears and Falcons on Sunday were in a must-win scenario, playoff hopefuls staring down the barrel of a 2-4 record.
Cutler showed poise and smart decision-making in a comfortable 27-13 victory. Playing against a defense that ranked 29th in the league, Cutler merely took what the defense gave him, checked off to ever reliable Matt Forte -- looking to atone for his late fumble last week against the Panthers -- who had 80 rushing yards, a pair of touchdowns, and another 77 yards through the air.
The critical number for Cutler, zero turnovers. The Bears are 3-0 this season when Cutler doesn't throw an interception.
After a quiet three weeks, Brandon Marshall went off for six catches and 113 yards, Alshon Jeffery led the Bears with 136 yards on five catches.
But perhaps the most surprising and assuring entity of the game was how well the much maligned defense played. Limiting the Falcons to a tawdry 13 points.
Mel Tucker's unit was able to pressure Matt Ryan all game, sacking him four times, Jared Allen registered his first sack as a Bear. Willie Young added two more, making him one of the early contenders for most shrewd signing of free-agency. Young currently leads the NFL with seven total QB sacks.
Injuries not a problem
Undoubtedly, the Bears needed leadership from the defensive line, with all three starting linebackers -- Jon Bostic, DJ Williams, and Lance Briggs -- out, the Bears turned to second-year fourth-round pick Khaseem Greene, undrafted rookie Christian Jones and fifth year man Darryl Sharpton, signed earlier in the week.
An outstanding performance from a group unfamiliar to each other facing one of the NFL's most potent offenses in their back-garden. Take a bow gentlemen.
In addition playing the nickelback position was undrafted rookie Demontre Hurst who iced the game for the Bears with a late interception of Matt Ryan.
First round pick Kyle Fuller continued to display his talent, with a forced-fumble and a spectacular play to break-up a third down pass to Julio Jones, limiting Jones to just 68 yards on four catches. This coming a week after he practically shut-out Panthers rookie sensation Kelvin Benjamin.
Fuller is playing at an All-Pro level and if he continues to play with this composure and discipline he may earn himself the distinction of Defensive Rookie of the Year. The last Bears player to earn that honour was Brian Urlacher in 2000.
The Bears move on to 3-3 where they will face the Miami Dolphins who surrendered a heartbreaking loss to Aaron Rodgers' last second fake-spike and touchdown.
For decades, the 'Monsters of the Midway' was strictly a term used for the great Chicago Bears' defenses that would carry the team on its shoulders. Last season that changed when Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte became the new 'Monsters'. They still are, but the defense might be catching up and they may be coming quicker than we thought.
For both the offense and defense, in what has been a frustratingly unpredictable season thus far for the Bears, discipline remains the key to victory.