Bears-Lions report card

Jonathan Daniel

With the Bears dropping the season series to the Lions yesterday, it means that the Bears will need to shift their sights from a possible division win to a Wild Card berth. Overall, the game was closer than the first time but how did each position grade out?

The Bears played a pretty good game yesterday, looking dominant at times on offense yesterday while the defense appeared to be its usual sieve self.

Early in the game Jay Cutler looked pretty good, but the offensive line struggled at times, which contributed to Cutler getting more and more banged up as the game went on. After the game Marc Trestman acknowledged he should have pulled Cutler sooner, which is true but knowing what we know about Cutler, he was probably not letting on that he was willing to be pulled.

Too late now, but this game was ultimately not lost by Cutler or Josh McCown. They both played pretty well, but the lack of the run game and the defense are what ultimately let the Bears down yesterday.

The Lions won the battle in the trenches with ESPN's box score giving them credit for 11 QB hits. Both teams converted 41 percent of their third downs but the Bears left points on the field with their failed 4th down try in the second quarter.

The Lions, of all teams, who came in with the 21st rushing attack, out gained the Bears on the ground 145 yards to 38 yards. Reggie Bush once again ran for over 100 yards and spoiler alert, both of his 100-yard games this year have come against Chicago.

So another frustrating day for the Bears. What are everyone's grades?

Quarterback: B-

Cutler played well, as I said, in the beginning of the game. He was moving around well and towards the end of the first half he was 11/16 for 136 yards and TD and was 6/6 on third downs. He took a sack early in the game and got hit a couple of the time after throws. His interception was not on him, the pass was on target but Lions LB DeAndre Levy didn't bite on the play fake and made an incredibly athletic play. Even if that ball gets tipped three or four times out of ten times the team runs that play, I bet it only gets intercepted once, maybe twice. Tip your hat to the Lions for that one.

I don't know if Cutler's groin tightened up (giggity) at halftime but once he came out for the second half he just didn't look the same. Maybe he should have taken himself out of the game but knowing what I do about Cutler that wasn't going to happen. McCown played very well replacing him on the final drive, going 6/9 for 62 yards and the touchdown.

Running backs: C-

Maybe I'm being a little too tough on Matt Forte for bad run blocking, but to my eyes Forte made several bad reads on his blocks and left yards on the field. His 1.9 yards per carry was abysmal and Michael Bush did himself no favors on the Bears one fourth down attempt by spinning instead of continuing to drive his legs. The Lions did a good job containing Forte in both the run and pass game, he came in averaging 121 yards from scrimmage and finished the game with only 49 (and no TDs).

Wide receivers: A-

It seems like I'm writing this every week, and maybe I'm just used to years of poor receiver play, but this unit is arguably the offense's strongest and deepest. Brandon Marshall had 139 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches with 12 targets. The thing about Marshall is even when he has bad drops (and he does) he almost always makes up for it. That was the case yesterday. Alshon Jeffery continues his strong sophomore campaign by adding 114 yards on nine catches with 18 targets. Jeffery dropped a touchdown in the third quarter which ended with the Bears settling for a field goal and then couldn't hold onto the potential lead-taking touchdown with 9:22 left in the game. Those were the biggest negatives I saw from the receivers yesterday. Earl Bennett added 10 yards on two catches and was targeted three times.

Tight ends: B

Another solid effort from Martellus Bennett who had four receptions on six targets and 29 yards. On the team's second drive he did a good job of breaking tackles to fight toward the line of scrimmage even though he was covered about five yards behind the line. Dante Rosario was targeted twice, only one of which was catchable, and he dropped it. Neither TE had any glaring blocking lapses that I saw.

Offensive line: D+

The offensive line did not have its best game yesterday despite giving up only two sacks. As I mentioned before, ESPN credited the Lions with 11 QB hits and those hits certainly contributed to Cutler's re-aggravated injury. They were bullied all day long by Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Willie Young. I noted several negative plays for Jermon Bushrod yesterday including a missed block on on Chris Houston on third and one which led to a stop of Forte. He also appeared to get blown up on the failed fourth down attempt. Matt Slauson also had a rough day, getting flagged for holding on what would have been a touchdown. Slauson and Roberto Garza got blown up on the two-point conversion attempt by Fairley. Pro-football Focus notes the poor line play, having graded out only Kyle Long positively and saying "The Bears may have figured out their sack problem, but they are on pace for 15 more hits and 84 more hurries than in 2012"

Overall offensive grade: C

The offense played well but couldn't carry the team like we've been used to seeing. There was mostly good quarterback play and wide receiver play as well, but the offensive line dragged this grade down. They got pushed around a little too much and with a banged up Cutler, that was never going to end well. Tough game for the offense.

Defensive line: D

The Lions running backs averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Matthew Stafford wasn't sacked. It appeared to be yet another standard game by the 2013 Chicago Bears defensive line. That said there were some bright spots, PFF graded out Stephen Paea at +1.7. He's been arguably the best DL member this year and he deflected a pass as well. Corey Wootton also had a good game getting pressure and deflecting a pass on third down but he also had an encroachment penalty. That said though, the lack of pass rush and the monster game by Bush, I couldn't give them a better grade. They had pressure but it didn't make an impact.

Linebackers: D

This group had another rough game. They took themselves out of numerous run plays, notably James Anderson on Bush's 14-yard-run in the third quarter. Jon Bostic made a nice play on Joique Bell in the backfield in the third quarter but other than that wasn't a huge factor. The linebackers over committed to Bush's misdirection which allowed them to get blocked out of the play.

Cornerbacks: C-

Charles Tillman had a gutsy effort, he was getting banged around all day and hung about as tough as he could with Calvin Johnson. That said though, he was burned for both of Johnson's touchdowns and most of Johnson's 83 yards, but he had two pass deflections. On Johnson's first TD it looked like TIllman didn't get a good jam at the line, kind of lost his footing and could never recover. On the second, he was late out of his break and Johnson just cut to the outside and burned him. He also got flagged for a facemask penalty. Tim Jennings got burned for Kris Durham's TD. Rough day for the corners.

Safeties: C+

This one is a little tough. The safeties have been flogged for most of the season and rightfully so. They have been awful in run defense and that continued Sunday. On Bush's longest run of the day, the 39-yarder, Chris Conte missed an open field tackle and Major Wright didn't come up to make a play even though it looked like he had a clean shot at it. However that play was a failure at all three levels of the defense; Paea shot his gap too quickly and took himself out of the play, the linebackers all bit on Bush's initial juke left before he cut it back right, and by that time all the defenders were blocked except for Conte and Wright. Wright also didn't make a play when he could have on Bush's 14-yard run in the third quarter.

Now all that aside, give credit where credit is due to Conte; he had a fantastic day in pass coverage. He notched the Bears' only takeaway, intercepting Stafford in the fourth quarter. He denied Johnson a touchdown in the fourth quarter which kept the Bears alive when David Akers missed the field goal on the very next play. He also covered Joseph Fauria well on first and goal in the third quarter. He batted three passes, the biggest being the Lions' fourth down pass.

Overall defensive grade: D+

The defense kept the Bears in the game for most of it but still couldn't stop Calvin Johnson when it came down to it. The run defense is a joke most of the time and continues to be the team's biggest shortcoming. The cornerbacks did not have a good game and it's surprising to me to have to give a better grade to the safeties than the corners. No unit played good though and ultimately that's what needs to happen in the final seven games.

Special teams grade: C-

Robbie Gould was his usual self hitting both his field goal attempts and Adam Podlesh averaged 42.6 yards per punt, which combined with good coverage did not allow a Lions punt return. Devin Hester had a decent day returning the ball, averaging 28.5 yards per kickoff return and returning a punt 16 yards. However, ultimately the failed onside kick and a false start on Blake Constanzo cost the unit a better grade. Michael Spurlock also averaged 23.7 yards per kickoff return.

Coaching grade: D

This is the first game where I have to call into question Marc Trestman's decision making. It's good that this is coming into question for the first time in game number nine but it's bad it has to happen at all. I first must question the decision to go for it on 4th down when they could have tried a 46 yard field goal. Now I won't knock him too bad for this because if they make it we're not questioning it plus it came early in the game and the wind was somewhat tricky yesterday so perhaps Gould told the coaches he wasn't confident from that far out. So that one wasn't reflected too much in the grade but I wanted to put it out there.

Where I do question him on is his decision to go with Cutler until the very last drive of the game when it was apparent very early in the second half that Cutler was struggling and not able to throw downfield with much zip. Trestman today said he should have pulled him earlier in the fourth but I say maybe even earlier than that. My last gripe is with the second two-point conversion play call. The run game hadn't been working great and the Bears all season have had more success running behind the right side of the line with Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. Yes, I know you don't want to run at Suh but Long has proved himself worthy of at least getting a chance to push for that key yard.

How do you grade the Bears performance yesterday?

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