By Dan Pompei--
(CBS) Early in the season, the feeling was the Bears would improve around the halfway point. That feeling disappeared for the most part as the Bears kept sinking. But it's starting to look like they're improving at the halfway point after all, as a 20-10 win against the Vikings on Monday night showed. A little health and a little continuity go a long way.
Here are my observations:
1. So this is what that fortified front seven was supposed to be about. The Bears sacked Sam Bradford five times.
2. Clearly there's improvement in Leonard Floyd's game. He's starting to cut it loose and play with abandon. And he's starting to be difficult to handle one-on-one.
3. If Pernell McPhee continues to come back like he can and Floyd continues to come on like he can, they will complement each other well. Power and speed off the edges, all up in your face.
4. One out of every 25 plays or so, Akiem Hicks reminds me a little of Reggie White.
5. Cre'von LeBlanc continues to look like he belongs. He might never be Darrelle Revis, but you need Cre'von LeBlanc.
6. Who does Jay Cutler remind you of more: Jeff George or Tony Robbins?
7. Cutler's presence -- and maybe his words -- had a tangible positive emotional effect on the Bears. That hasn't happened often in his eight years in Chicago.
8. For an 11-year veteran, Cutler's play-action fakes are sloppy at times. No excuse there.
9. Credit where it's due: offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains put together an excellent game plan against a tough defense and called plays well.
10. But we're still waiting for an explanation of how Jordan Howard averaged 12 touches in the previous two games. The Bears need to ride that horse the way they did Monday night.
11. Howard is at his best as a finisher. In the fourth quarter, he carried the ball on 73 percent of the Bears' snaps and had 44 yards on 11 rushes to put the Vikings away.
12. If every "next man up" for the Bears this year had stepped up the way guards Ted Larsen and Eric Kush did Monday, the Bears would have a few more wins.
13. It's starting to look like the Bears might have made the right moves at the tight end position. After eight games, Zach Miller has 40 catches for 393 yards, a 9.8-yard-per-catch average, and three touchdowns. And after eight games, Martellus Bennett has 31 catches for 402 yards, a 13.0-yard-per-catch average, and four touchdowns. Miller is trending up; Bennett is trending down.
14. I really like Eddie Royal. Good player, but he has missed 37 percent of his games since coming to the Bears last season, including Monday. He is 30 years old. Next year he has a $5-million cap hit. You have to wonder about his future.
15. The Bears struggled to overcome attrition early in the season. It's starting to look like the Vikings are going to struggle with it during the latter stages of the season. Sooner or later, waves of injuries catch up with any team.
Dan Pompei has been covering the NFL since 1985 and is a regular contributor to 670 The Score and a host on 670's Bears pregame show. He writes for Bleacher Report and theathletic.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan Pompei.
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