The Chicago Bears (8-5) lost to the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) in the first seven minutes of the game, ultimately losing the game 21-14. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson set the tone with a 51-yard run on the first offensive play and finished the game with 170 yards from scrimmage. The Bears defense stiffened up after the first quarter, but it was already too late. QB Jay Cutler and the Bears offense couldn’t string together any drives, mostly due to dropped passes by the receivers.
Bears WR Brandon Marshall had another monster game, with 10 catches for 160 yards, breaking the Bears franchise record for catches in the season. He now has 101. However, even he dropped a pass late that could have kept a drive going. Cutler was at fault as well, overthrowing receivers and holding the ball too long. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a stiff neck, but looks to be okay to play next week against the Green Bay Packers.
Let’s hand out some grades to the Chicago Bears, who have now lost four of their last five games.
Quarterbacks – C-
Cutler threw for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while completing just 50 percent of his passes. His receivers didn’t do him any favors, dropping multiple balls, falling down and standing still. He didn’t lose the game, but he didn’t play well enough to win it either. The neck injury might have had a little something to do with his below average play, but his overthrows are becoming very cumbersome.
Jason Campbell looked like a man on a mission when he relieved Cutler late in the game. He completed his first four passes and looked to have found a weakness in the defense. He made a few questionable plays (i.e. calling a timeout when he didn’t have one), but he put points on the board.
Wide Receivers – D+
Lovie must be filling the Bears receivers’ gloves with concrete these days, because they can’t catch the ball. Marshall made some really nice catches, but had a few drops. Devin Hester dropped a sure touchdown with no defenders anywhere near him. Alshon Jeffery had three catches for 57 yards and touchdown, but also dropped multiple passes. These guys are the main reason the Bears offense sputtered on Sunday.
Running Backs – B
Matt Forte had himself a nice little game, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and racking up 85 yards on the ground. It’s too bad Mike Tice called 15 total running plays and 56 passing plays. That’s “slightly” out of balance in a game decided by only one score. If Michael Bush is battling an injury, I couldn’t see it on his one rush for six yards. These two need to be a much bigger part of the offense if the Bears want to make the playoffs.
Tight Ends/Fullback – F
Kellen Davis struggled yet again. What else is new? He should be playing center for the Chicago Bulls with all the balls he bats down. It appears that Lovie might be getting sick of him as well. Kyle Adams was playing late in the game. He made one nice catch for nine yards, but then ran out of bounds before making his second catch, drawing a penalty. It could have been costly if the Bears didn’t score right after it.
Evan Rodriguez looks to be the fullback of the future. The Bears just need to figure out a way to get him more involved in the offense.
Offensive Line – D
We know that this rag-tag, thrown together group isn’t going to shine, but they at least need to stop someone every once in a while. Cutler was running for his life all day and all too often the linemen were standing around and chasing guys who blew past them. Undrafted rookie James Brown has potential. With time, he should catch up to the speed of the NFL. His holding penalty was bad, but everyone else on the line looked worse. Gabe Carimi hasn’t looked as terrible at guard as he was at tackle, but he’s still making mistakes and penalties. On the positive side, Cutler was only sacked twice, despite being leveled on a few other plays.
Defensive Line – D+
Another mediocre performance from a group of guys who were playing spectacular at the beginning of the year. Corey Wootton managed the only sack of the game. Julius Peppers doesn’t look as fast as he used to be and Israel Idonije looks like he is getting old. Shea McClellin was hurt again and should garner a lot of attention as a guy who may be injury prone. The defense starts with this group, and you can’t give up a 51-yard run on the first play of the game.
Linebackers – B
Nick Roach and Lance Briggs played well, combining for 20 tackles, three for loss. Geno Hayes flat out whiffed on Peterson on the long run at the beginning of the game, but settled down as the game went on. This group had a tough task replacing Brian Urlacher, but helped shut out the Vikings offense after the first seven minutes of the game. These three need to lead the defense over the next three weeks.
Secondary – C
You may automatically think that allowing an opposing quarterback just 91 yards passing means you had a great game. That wasn’t the case. This group missed the most tackles and had very unopportunistic penalties. Major Wright looks 100 percent better with Chris Conte on the field. The Bears don’t have a replacement with the ability to read plays like Tim Jennings. He could have been the difference in this game.
Special Teams – C-
When Patrick Mannelly commits a penalty, you know it was a bad game all around. Zack Bowman had a dumb holding penalty as well. Devin Hester was actually the lone bright spot, returning five punts for 58 yards.
Had Robbie Gould been healthy, the Bears may have been able to put a few more points on the board. He was sorely missed. Adam Podlesh booted four punts inside the 20, but only averaged 37.5 yards per punt. He has been terrible at directional kicking. The Vikings special teams play was nearly non-existent, so there’s that.
Coaching – F
Lovie Smith needs to be a lot quicker at unholstering his timeouts. He lost valuable seconds on every timeout he called in the fourth quarter. The Bears could have had a shot at one more play at the end of the game. As I mentioned earlier, the unbalanced play-calling was a killer. Mike Tice is just not a capable offensive coordinator.
Overall – D+