MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: A QB Matthew Stafford endorsement and the Cutler-Forte duo

Posted Sep 29, 2013

Mike O'Hara on Stafford's stats, what Bears' QB Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte have done to the Lions and Gunther Cunningham's comments on DE Willie Young

Final thoughts awaiting kickoff of the Lions-Bears game – an endorsement of Matthew Stafford, what the Cutler-Forte duo has done to the Lions, Willie Young stepping up, and an anniversary date of sorts for former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher:

Notable quote: Super Bowl XX MVP quarterback Phil Simms, on Showtime’s Inside the NFL: "Matthew Stafford, he makes three or four highlight throws every single week. He’ll make those against the Bears this week."

Stafford stats: He is tied with Jets rookie Geno Smith for the most completions of 40 yards or longer. Both have four. Stafford and Drew Brees are tied for sixth with 13 completions of 20 yards or more. Stafford is fifth among starting quarterbacks with an average gain of 8.4 yards per pass attempt.

Young gun: Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham likes how defensive end Willie Young has performed and handled himself of late, and Cunningham isn’t doing anything to change Young’s attitude.

This is Young’s fourth season as a Lion, and his role has increased after a disappointing 2012 season when he did not have a sack. Young will start at left end in place of Jason Jones, who is out for the season with a knee injury sustained in last week’s road win over Washington.

Young played well against Washington, and he avoided the penalties that plagued him in the preseason and earlier in the regular season. Young helped force Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III into an interception last week by pursuing him and grabbing him by the shoulder just as he tried to deliver the pass. Chris Houston made a sideline interception.

"He’s been all business," Cunningham said of Young. "I haven’t talked to him hardly. He’s in a zone, and I want to keep him that way."

Cutler/Forte: The Bears’ quarterback-tailback duo has done damage against the Lions, helping lead them to a 7-1 record since Cutler arrived in Chicago in 2009 in a trade after three seasons with Denver.

Cutler has 12 TD passes against one interception. However, the Lions have sacked him 24 times – an average of three a game – and he’s had only one big game. Cutler threw four TD passes in 2009.

Forte is one of the NFL’s best receiving-running tailbacks, and he’s proven that against the Lions. Forte has had four 100-yard rushing games and a 151-yard receiving game. That came on opening day of 2010.

Forte has the ability to break big plays. Against the Lions, he’s had runs of 39, 40, 53 and 61 yards, and he had an 89-yard TD catch in 2010.

Target practice: The Lions’ Calvin Johnson and the Bears’ Brandon Marshall aren’t being overlooked in their offense, but they haven’t been targeted nearly as often as a year ago.

Johnson has been targeted 30 times, 15th most in the league, and has 17 catches for 268 yards. Marshall has been targeted 28 times, 23rd most in the league, and has 20 catches for 269 yards.

Last year Johnson led the NFL in targets (205) and receptions (122), and he set the NFL one-season record with 1,964 receiving yards.

Marshall was tied for second in targets with 194 and had 118 receptions.

Urlacher milestone date: Urlacher retired before the season after 13 yards as the Bears’ middle linebacker. He was drafted ninth overall by the Bears in 2000 out of New Mexico, where he played safety. Former Bears coach Dick Jauron played him at outside linebacker in his first three games as a rookie.

In Game 4 of 2000 – also against the Lions – Urlacher was moved to the middle, where he remained and played at a Hall of Fame level. In his first game at middle linebacker, Urlacher had a sack and an interception in a loss to the Lions.