Something seemed off as soon as I heard that the Chicago Bears won the coin toss, but then deferred and let the Green Bay Packers have the first offensive possession. So much for showing off our new explosive offense. Then the pass-happy Packers ran the ball on their first two possessions. A little odd, but not totally unexpected. Then Jay Cutler was sacked, again, on the Bears first offensive play of the game. It culminated in two of the, expected, top offensives in the NFC playing to a 0-0 tie after one quarter.
Then things just kept getting weirder and uglier for the Bears as the game went on, including 7 sacks, 4 interceptions, a Green Bay fake field goal touchdown and an ankle injury to Matt Forte. It just wasn’t the Bears night. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), the Bears defense was far and away the best phase of the game, forcing 2 turnovers, 5 sacks and holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 1 offensive touchdown. Either way, there is a lot of blame to go around for the 23-10 loss at Lambeau Field, so let’s go to the grades.
Quarterback – F+
Jay Cutler had a terrible night that included 11-27 passing for 126 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. He was also sacked 7 times and hit on another 5 attempts, no thanks to the “offensive” line. The 4 interceptions, while all poorly thrown, weren’t entirely his fault. Earl Bennett could have helped out on two of them. In the end, Cutler never had time to throw the ball and Clay Matthews was sprinting by JWebb all night. I actually wanted to give Cutler a D because of all the poor play around him. However, I know this adversity isn’t new to him, and I think he could have taken back control of the game midway through the third quarter. Instead, he turned the ball over. Even with his newly found power to audible, he spiraled downhill all night.
Wide Receivers – F
I don’t know if Cutler wasn’t looking his way or if Brandon Marshall couldn’t get open, but he was non-existent for most of the game (2 catches for 24 yards). Oh, except when he dropped a pass in the end zone. Hester dropped a pass that was right in his hands as well. Bennett was targeted 6 times but was only able to haul in 2 catches for 21 yards and couldn’t fight off defenders on three balls thrown his way that were intercepted. Alshon Jeffery wasn’t able to use his size and his inexperience showed, ending the night with only 1 catch for 7 yards on 2 targets. The WRs can chalk this one up to a learning experience.
Running Backs – C+
Matt Forte and Michael Bush were the only guys on offense who were consistently gaining yards. However, the Bears kept running at ridiculous times (four running plays with 19+ yards-to-go for a first down). Forte also missed a block that led to the first sack of the game, but helped out pretty well otherwise until he was injured. Bush couldn’t break anything big late in the game, but he did keep the chains moving on a few drives.
Tight Ends/Fullback – F
This grade is based solely on the play of Kellen Davis. He is terrible and should be released. He dropped at least 2 or 3 balls that hit his hands, he missed blocks all night, and he had a false start penalty which led to an interception on the next play. (Bears went from 3rd and 6 to 3rd and 11.) The touchdown that Davis scored meant very little after he played so poorly all game. There was a Matt Spaeth sighting on a 4-yard completion, and I didn’t see much Evan Rodriguez. Rodriguez had a good week last week, blocking and getting open, but I think Lovie wanted a bigger guy like Davis in there. Not that he did much. A guy like Kyle Adams, who was injured, could have been a much better option for Cutler.
Offensive Line – F-
Anytime you let your quarterback get sacked 7 times, your night was a failure. JWebb was a revolving door on the outside, Chris Spencer can’t cut it as a left guard (he was a right guard last year) and Gabe Carimi is still learning the game. Carimi’s personal foul penalty was a young guy getting baited by a veteran. He needs to keep his cool next time. Even Garza lost track of the play clock early in the game. The worst part of the night was seeing JWebb laugh when Cutler was upset at him and bumped him. Webb needs to step up and either tell Cutler he can’t push him around (Cutler has watched opponents do that to Webb for two years) or just play better on the field. That laugh just shows how little Webb really cares.
Defensive Line – A
By far, the group that played the best for the Bears. Rookie Shea McClellin had 1.5 sacks, Julius Peppers had 2, Henry Melton had 1 and Corey Wooton had half a sack. It seemed like anyone they put on that line ended up in the backfield at some point. I think this group is going to be strength all year. If the Bears can consistently get pressure with four guys, they are going to get a lot of turnovers in the secondary.
Linebackers – C
Not their best game, but not their worst. Lance Briggs had 10 tackles and Brian Urlacher had 8. The problem was that Packers RB Cedric Benson was dragging them a couple extra yards on many of those tackles. Urlacher is still getting up to game speed, but his knee looks healthy. Briggs dropped an interception that could have given the Bears a big momentum boost. Overall, the outlook for this aging crew looks promising.
Secondary – B
I can’t say enough about how well the Bears corners have been doing so far this season. Tillman was a little banged up but showed that he is still king of the ball punch, creating a big turnover late in the game that the offense couldn’t capitalize on. I predicted that Tim Jennings was going to have a big year, but not this big. He had a nice tackle for a big loss on James Jones, and he intercepted his third pass of the season. At this pace he will end the season with 24 picks. I’ll be happy if he ends up with half of that. The weakest link is still Major Wright. He hasn’t given up a big play yet, but he will sooner or later.
Special Teams – D
I decided that the fake field goal touchdown was more about how well the Packers executed it, than how poor the Bears defended it. It was great play and the Packers deserve the credit. Besides that, the Bears special teams played average. They didn’t do anything spectacular. Gould continued his perfect season with a field goal and an extra point. Podlesh averaged 46.8 yards on 6 punts. Hester looked human on 2 punt returns for 8 yards and 2 kick returns for 57 yards. Ho hum.
Coaching – F
Mike Tice has a lot to learn about this new Bears offense. He made the classic Martz mistake of relying on the pass way too much. They ran a passing play on first down on their first three possessions, all of which ended in a punt. I still like him as a coach and think he will learn from his mistakes. And now to a guy who never learns from his mistakes, Lovie Smith. All I have to say is when you use the offseason to invest in two big wide receivers and a great running back, then keep four tight ends on your active roster, don’t defer if you win the coin toss. Seriously. At least there are mandatory replays now, which should cut down on stupid challenges. I emphasize should.
Overall – F (the Bears)