I thought I would do the Chicago Bears weekly report card a little different this year. I’m going to grade by position as a whole rather than just a few individual players. Hopefully, I can give a little analysis on the whole team.
For Week 1, I’m not going to lie to you, it was easy to give out a lot of good grades for the blowout victory against the Indianapolis Colts. Any time the defense gets five takeaways and the offense scores five touchdowns, everyone is going to pass my class. However, a few people played like it was still the preseason, including Lovie Smith and his red flags. He’ll never get it right. Anyway, let’s get to the grades.
Quarterback – A-
Despite completing only 1 of his first 10 passes, Jay Cutler found his groove against a bad Colts defense, finishing the game 21/35 for 333 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The pick-6 on the second drive of the game gave most Bears fans a scare, but seeing how he settled down afterwards showed his maturity. He led four drives of 70+ yards, hitting Brandon Marshall all over the field and connecting with Alshon Jeffery on a 42-yard touchdown strike (the throw sailed 60 yards in the air) late in the game. We are finally seeing what Cutler is capable of when he has reliable receivers. He deserves high marks for starting off the season with a bang. Jerry Angelo is somewhere complaining that Marshall is too tall to be a good receiver.
Wide Receivers – A
Brandon Marshall singlehandedly brought the grade up with his 8 catches, 119 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s going to be difficult for any secondary to handle. Jeffery made a beautiful catch for a touchdown late in the game, showing what he can do when defenses put all their focus on Marshall. Earl Bennett and Devin Hester didn’t have a huge impact on the game, but both had nice catches of 25+ yards to keep drives moving. Hester as a fourth option makes me pretty confident that the Bears can compete offensively with any team in the league.
Running Backs – A
I would have liked to have seen a little more Matt Forte (16 carries, 80 yards, 1 touchdown) and a little less Michael Bush (12 carries, 42 yards, 2 TDs) around mid-field. Bush is a capable back, but he needs to stick to what he does best, short yardage situations. He did have a 20-yard run, but it late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. Either way, both guys did their job, Forte got them down the field and Bush got them in the end zone. They almost made me forget we ever had Marion Barber and Chester Taylor.
Tight Ends/Fullback – D+
My apologies to rookie Evan Rodriguez who had a great first career game. He showed that he can block out of the backfield or from the line. He will be used more and more as the season continues. Starting TE Kellen Davis is a waste of size and athleticism. He missed a bunch of blocks (including the first play of the game that resulted in a sack) and had a holding penalty that negated a 21-yard run. He is going to be in the dog house more than he’s going to be in the end zone this year.
Offensive Line – C+
Overall, they held their own throughout the game. Even JWebb nation looked like a capable tackle at times. Colts LB Robert Mathis was the only guy who really got to Cutler, sacking him twice against Gabe Carimi and Davis. The Bears also rushed for three touchdowns and 114 yards. After the first few drives, the only guys who looked a little shaky were Carimi and Chris Spencer. The rest had a solid all-around game.
Secondary – B+
You never like to see a quarterback throw for 300 yards against you, but three interceptions make up for it. Tim Jennings played like he was 6’8” rather than 5’8”, grabbing two interceptions and tipping two other passes. Reggie Wayne looked unstoppable at times, but the Colts longest pass play was only 26 yards. Losing Tillman for most of the game could have been bad, but Kelvin Hayden filled in nicely. Major Wright was his usual sloppy self, but Chris Conte showed that he’s a mainstay in the Bears secondary with an interception and another pass deflection.
Linebackers – C
I will admit it, Brian Urlacher looked more like Brian Boitano. He’s definitely needs to get back up to game speed and I applaud Lovie Smith for taking him out of the game in the second half. No need to risk injury. Urlacher can consider this game his preseason warm up and we should see a motivated middle linebacker in Green Bay. Nick Roach and Lance Briggs performed adequate, but the middle was open all day for the Colts. Geno Hayes was decent, but didn’t do much to show that he can fill in if Urlacher gets hurt. Overall, the linebackers were just adequate.
Defensive Line – A-
Andrew Luck might have thrown for 309 yards, but he was under pressure all day. Henry Melton sacked him twice and Corey Wooton sacked him once, causing a fumble that Julius Peppers recovered. Their run defense only gave up 63 yards on 15 rushes (4.2 yards per carry). They did allow two 18 yard runs on one of the Colts touchdown drives, but throughout the day they held the running game in check, especially Melton who had three tackles for a loss. Give Hank the game ball for this one.
Special Teams – A
Hester wasn’t ridiculous, but he did break a 23-yard punt return. And I must admit, it felt good to see him returning kicks again after oh so many months. The coverage team did a nice job creating a turnover when JT Thomas forced a fumble and Hayden recovered it. Blake Constanzo also made his presence felt with two special teams tackles. Punter Adam Podlesh looked a little rusty, but I expect him to get back in the groove once his hip flexor is fully healed. Finally, Robbie Gould just keeps on being Mr. Reliable making all of his attempts (2 FGs, 5 XPs). It was just another game where the Bears won the Special Teams battle. Dave Toub is a genius.
Coaching – B-
Just when I thought Lovie figured out when the throw the red flag, he whips it out to challenge the spot of the ball that was clearly not a first down. Stupid Lovie. Oh well, at least it didn’t cost them anything this Sunday. It will one of these games. Mike Tice looked pretty good as the new Offensive Coordinator, outside of the first few plays. In tandem with Cutler being able to audible, I’m very confident that we are going to see a good mix of looks from this new high-powered offense. I just hope Lovie doesn’t put his two cents in on play-calling. We’ll have to wait and see.