The Bears defense didn't put together an all around good performance, as their defensive line stepped up to the challenge, but the secondary didn't do a good job erasing the concerns the fans and media has of them. Harris had what he describes as one of the worst games of his career last Saturday. Harris' play was so poor last Saturday that it sparked an idea from Jeff Dickerson where he blogged that Wright and Manning might be the better safety combination that Lovie can put together. I'm not quick to give up on Harris, and with him being a veteran I expect him to not have many games like that during the season. Fans should expect a much improved defense come week 1 against the Lions.
Left End Israel Idonije: Grade C
Idonjie ended up getting the start in place of Anderson last Saturday. Izzy was solid against the run, but was quite invisible during passing situations. I am guessing that the Bears will use Izzy on obviously running situations, and leave Anderson as a pass specialist. The Bears need a DE opposite Peppers that can quickly get to quarterbacks and who has quick releases; other than Peppers, Anderson fits the bill.
Nose Tackles Anthony Adams/Matt Toenia: Grade B+
Anthony had a solid game often plugging up running lanes and occupying two linemen to get Tommie Harris in one on one situations against his guy. I would say overall, Adams and Toeaina won their match up against Reggie Wells. I honestly feel the NT position with Adams and Toeaina will be an underrated strength on that line. Both Adams and Toeaina are pretty good at run support and Toeaina has shown this preseason that he can be an effective pass rusher on passing situations.
Three Technique Tackle Tommie Harris: Grade B
Harris was impressive in run support which was shocking considering that Alan Faneca is one of the better run blocking guards in the league. Harris, along with his fellow tackles Adams and Toeaina, plugged up running lanes and at times got penetration into the Cardinals backfield. The other times Harris was too busy hand fighting with Leuti and Faneca instead of using quickness combined with his strength to get past the two.
Right End Julius Peppers: Grade A
Peppers graded out the best lineman last Saturday night (surprising huh?). Peppers' quickness and strength proved to be too much for Levi Brown to handle. Obviously his best play was the sack in the red zone where he just blew by Brown on a pure speed rush, slapping his hands away and sacking Leinart. Peppers critics who said that this guy doesn't give it his all most times are being proven wrong so far this preseason. Peppers has clearly been the best defensive player through 3 games in the preseason.
LCB Zackary Bowman: Grade C
Hard to even judge Bowman's performance as he wasn't picked on as much as I thought he was going to coming into the game. The problem I have with Bowman is that at times he plays unnecessarily far off the receiver which doesn't allow him to make a play on the ball. For example there was a 3rd down play, where Marinelli dialed up a nickel blitz with D.J. Moore. Moore and Peppers were running free at Anderson, but didn't get a hand on him. You know why they didn't? Bowman played too far off his man (Williams at that time) which allowed the Cards WR to run a hot route and get the first. If Bowman played up close to his man, he would have had the opportunity to make a play on the ball, or made Anderson hold that ball a few more seconds which would have allowed the blitz to get there. That was one of the many missed opportunities the secondary let get by them.
RCB Charles Tillman: Grade C
Tillman was getting beat like a drum by the rookie Stephen Williams and it was mainly the inside slant. The reason I won't give him or Bowman a lower grade than a C is because their struggles had more to do with the scheme if anything. In the scheme, they are told to protect the outside which leaves the defense vulnerable to the inside slant if the LB's are late or slow to cover the inside. You've got to love the Tampa 2 defense.
Nickel Back D.J. Moore: Grade B-
Moore looked like a better fit in the nickel compared to Cory Graham. He showed me last Saturday that he can be a dependable tackle, quick to cover his zone, and was an effective Blitzer whenever Marinelli dialed up a nickel blitz. I won't give him a higher grade because I wanted to see more man to man with him, as he was often in zone most times.
Free Safety Chris Harris: Grade A
I give Chris Harris an A as his play last Saturday put the A in Awful. His worst play was not even the play where he took a bad angle on Stephen Williams' touchdown, but the play where he came into the box to make a tackle on Hightower, but froze up and let Hightower run right pass him for 10 yards. You can't do that, especially against the likes of Adrian Peterson and Ryan Grant who will make you pay for a mistake like that. Chris' overall play last Saturday just further proves the point that he needs to be in the SS spot, not FS.
Strong Safety Daniel Manning: Grade A
After a rough performance against the Raiders last weekend, Manning was flying all over the field (and in a good way) this past weekend against Arizona. Run Support was there, he was effectively safety blitzing (though taking a bad angle, he made Anderson throw the ball away on the move), and in coverage he didn't allow any big plays downfield as he often met the receiver there and laid big hits. Jeff Dickerson had an interesting tweet during the game where he said he could see a scenario where Wright and Manning could be the starting safeties if not opening day then eventually during the season. With the way Harris has struggled throughout camp and preseason and Manning's performance last Saturday, it's hard to argue that.