The Chicago Bears (7-2) were outplayed by the Houston Texans (8-1) on a rainy night in Chicago, losing 13-6. When Jay Cutler went down at halftime, there was little hope that the Bears struggling offense could right itself against one of the best defenses in the league. Cutler, who has a 135.0 QB rating in the fourth quarter this season, was replaced by Jason Campbell, who checked the Bears down to defeat.
The defense actually played very well, holding the Texans to 215 total yards, and were led by Tim Jennings, who intercepted his seventh and eighth passes of the season. The offensive line even looked like a capable group of NFL players. But turnovers, dropped passes and no Jay Cutler were too much for the Bears to overcome.
Let’s hand out some grades for a night Bears fans have experienced twice before since Cutler joined the Bears.
Quarterback – F
The Cutler roller coaster started off on a downhill slope once again, but this time he hit rock bottom courtesy of an illegal hit by Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins. Two sloppy first half interceptions inside the Texans 30-yard line also deprived the Bears of scoring opportunities on a night where points were hard to come by. (However, one interception was apparently after the concussion happened.) Hopefully, the concussion knocked his turnover-prone nature out of him, and he will be able to return soon.
Campbell finished the game going 11-for-19 for 94 yards, but was way too conservative late in the game. We’ll have to chalk this one up to knocking the rust off. This was his first game played where he attempted more than one pass since October of 2011.
In the end, both quarterbacks failed to reach the end zone or lead the offense on a drive over 46 yards against a tough defense, swirling winds and a rain-soaked field. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice also didn’t do them any favors with his predictable play-calling.
Wide Receivers – C
Marshall once again makes the receiving core, as a whole, look better than it was. He hauled in eight catches for 107 yards, but dropped a pass right in his hands in the end zone. Earl Bennett seemed to be open often but only caught one pass for nine yards. Devin Hester had two catches for four yards, but had a nice 42-yard reception called back because of a blown call by the officials. Cutler’s entire body was not over the line.
Overall, this group needs to help Marshall out more, especially if Cutler misses any time.
Running Backs – D+
You can’t fault Matt Forte and Michael Bush for only getting 19 rushes on a night where the weather begged for a running game. You can fault Bush for his fumble on fourth down. The Bears were bouncing back nicely after turning the ball over on their first possession, but Bush coughed up the ball trying to gain one extra yard after he already had the first down. What a shame.
Forte only averaged 2.4 yards per rush, but would have surely broke at least one big run (like Arian Foster, who had 29 carries, did), if it weren’t for Tice making zero adjustments.
Tight Ends/Fullback – F
For weeks, I have been expressing my deep seeded hatred for Kellen Davis. Hopefully, everyone else sees it now. He fumbled, missed blocks and missed passes that went right through his hands, once again. Can we just cut him and be done with him already? Or maybe trade him for some cheerleaders … they will have more of a positive impact on a game than he does.
Matt Spaeth was the Bears second leading receiver with three catches for four yards. That’s never a positive thing. Check downs to the rookie fullback Evan Rodriguez would have been much more productive. Look for more of him in the upcoming weeks.
Offensive Line – A-
Except for two holding penalties and a false start, these guys played a really solid game. They completely shut down one of the best defensive linemen in the league, J.J. Watt, and didn’t allow a single sack for the first time this season. The Bears yardage and points may not show it, but the offensive line did their job very well.
Defensive Line – B
Not their best performance of the season against the run (127 rushing yards given up, 3.6 yards per carry), but they did a nice job against the pass. Henry Melton is an absolute beast and Julius Peppers registered the Bears only sack of the night. Nate Collins made a few nice plays but also looked to be out of position on a few long Texan runs.
This group continues to play at a high level. However, someone will need to step up if rookie Shea McClellin misses more time with the concussion he suffered early in the game on Sunday.
Linebackers – B
Brian Urlacher has improved just about every week this season. He had eight tackles (2 for loss) on Sunday night. Lance Briggs made a few nice tackles but didn’t factor in as many plays as he normally does. He played great coverage on Texans RB Arian Foster when he scored the game’s only touchdown, but the throw was too perfect. Nick Roach was on the field more often than normal but missed a few key tackles himself.
Anytime you allow a running back over 100 yards rushing, you have to put some blame on the linebackers.
Secondary – A
There isn’t much more you can ask for out of a secondary. Jennings had two interceptions and three passes defended, Charles Tillman had six tackles and two passes defended, Major Wright/Chris Conte combined for nine tackles (one for loss), and the Texans only had 95 passing yards. I guess a touchdown would have been nice. C’est la vie.
Special Teams – C
Devin Hester had a few shots at breaking a big return, but came up short. At least he didn’t cough up the ball on a slippery evening at Soldier Field.
Robbie Gould missed his third field goal attempt in the last four games, but the weather conditions didn’t help him any. His two successful field goals were the only thing that kept the Bears in the game.
A bad holding penalty by Anthony Walters took some field position away from the Bears on their final drive of the first half. Punter Adam Podlesh didn’t allow any of his punts to be returned, but only averaged 38.8 yards per punt.
This group isn’t playing poorly, by any means, but they aren’t playing up to the high level we are used to from Dave Toub’s crew.
Coaching – F
Mike Tice proved that he is a rookie offensive coordinator. His play-calling got to the point where even I, from my couch, knew what the Bears were going to do. When Jason Campbell came in to start the second half the Bears ran the same running play three consecutive times (twice on first down and once on second down). The players were in the same formation each time and there was only one wide receiver, who was sent in motion. The play worked twice, but then the Texans caught on and stopped Forte. A few plays later, on first down, they ran the same stupid play yet again and what happened? Forte was stuffed again. That type of play-calling mentality isn’t going to work in the NFL.
Overall – D+