The Bears earned their victory Monday and while it's easy to play the "what if" game, the fact is that Chicago's back up quarterback outplayed the Packers' back up and it made the difference.
Josh McCown played well in his first start of the season and while some fans are calling for him to be promoted ahead of Jay Cutler, I think you have to go back to your starting QB, especially if he's fully healthy.
Matt Forte also contributed his first 100-yard game of the season and had 179 total yards. There were a couple of bright spots on the defense (hello Shea McClellin, first round draft pick) but overall it was another terrible effort. The unit gave up 199 rushing yards to Green Bay and 312 total yards.
The Packers with Aaron Rodgers marched 68 yards on eight plays before having to settle for a field goal. I know I frowned upon playing the "what if" game earlier but let's keep that in mind when looking at the defense.
Josh McCown played well in his starting spot for the injured Cutler. He did exactly what a back up should: he took care of the ball, he got the ball to his playmakers and he didn't take unnecessary risks. He completed only 53.6 percent of his passes but he made them count. The longest pass he completed was only 33 yards and that was to Forte, so he didn't complete any deep balls and frankly his deep accuracy didn't look great. Overall he played great, but in an ideal world he won't need to be called upon again this year.
Running back: A-
Forte was the main man here carrying the ball a season high 24 times for 125 yards, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He showed great awareness on the final drive by staying in bounds and he kept fighting for yards, especially on that key fourth down play. He was solid in pass protection as well. Tony Fiametta was also good at opening holes for Forte and Michael Bush came in late in the game to spell Forte and get some key yards as well. Forte added 54 receiving yards and Bush grabbed a pass for 15 yards as well.
Offensive line: A-
Another game, another solid effort. The guys were mauling in the run blocking game with PFF noting that Forte averaged 3 yards per carry before contact. PFF also noted that the Packers couldn't get to McCown in the pass game and while they were missing their leading pass rusher in Clay Matthews, the line fended off the Packers well. PFF lists only three QB hits surrendered while ESPN's box score lists five. Those aren't an official stat, which is why there would be a discrepancy but either way, on 41 dropbacks to surrender only 3-5 hits and one sack is good.
Tight ends: B
Martellus Bennett had a key eight yard gain to set up the ballsy fourth down call by Marc Trestman. Other than that he had three other receptions and had eight targets overall. He dropped a couple of catchable passes but was solid when called upon in protection. I don't always notice when Dante Rosario comes in, which is an improvement for his blocking over tight ends we've seen recently.
Wide receivers: A
Another great game by this talented corps of players. Brandon Marshall had his third 100-yard receiving game of the season (his first since week 2) and Alshon Jeffery added 60 yards and a touchdown on his five catches. The receivers' stellar play is one reason that McCown was able to play so well. The receivers also did their part in the running game by getting downfield and occupying blockers.
Offensive grade: A
Once again the offense played its part by putting up 27 points and over 400 yards. It was the team's fourth game with 400 yards of offense this season, one more than they had all of last season. The offense is beginning to really click and with or without Cutler that is very good to know. Another great effort from the team's strongest unit.
Defensive line: C+
This is a tough one, on one hand they finally found a pass rush and were able to sack Packers quarterbacks five times. Shea McClellin played like the first round pick he was, Julius Peppers was disruptive and even made a freakish interception and Corey Wootton got in on the act as well. McClellin and Wootton both recorded two tackles for loss. On the other hand, the Packers offensive line was able to open massive gaps for Eddie Lacy to gash through and none of the defensive linemen played the run particularly well. Even Stephen Paea, who has been one of the best linemen all year, missed a couple of tackles.
Poor tackling, biting hard on play action and misdirection, it was a terrible performance for the linebacking corps. Kasheem Greene played hard but did not make enough plays in his first game replacing Lance Briggs. Jon Bostic was credited with only three solo tackles and James Anderson was credited with six tackles but Anderson was faked out by misdirection plays and missed tackles. Very poor effort from the linebackers and it could mean for a long several weeks before Briggs returns.
Another solid effort from the corners. PFF noted they did well in run support and may have been able to cheat over that way once Rodgers was out. The longest pass of the night went to Jordy Nelson for 27 yards, but again, without Rodgers deep balls weren't as much of a concern. Jennings made a touchdown-saving tackle on Lacy's 56-yard run.
This was yet again another horrid performance from the last line of defense. Chris Conte took poor angles on Lacy and was juked out on a couple of occasions. Major Wright wasn't much better, earning a -4.7 grade from PFF in run defense. They note that both are among the worst in the league in tackling efficiency. Conte was also guilty of giving up the 27-yard reception to Nelson. The safeties continue to be a liability and will be a huge concern with Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and the explosive Detroit Lions coming to town.
Overall defensive grade: D
The defense continues to struggle and while the lack of Rodgers in the Packers pass game helped the Bears hold then to 312 total yards, with nearly 200 of those on the ground, the defense continues to be a liability. The D found their pass rush but it remains to be seen if they can sustain that success. Until it's seen on a consistent basis against some decent lines I am not going to believe it. Hopefully the unit will build on Monday night's game but I'm not holding out hope.
Special teams: C-
Dante Rosario gave up an inexcusable blocked punt and the team could not recover the Packers' onside kick. Teams clearly do not fear the team's special teams unit as much as when Dave Toub was the coach. Maybe that's just my opinion but teams don't seem to kick away from Devin Hester (despite the fact that he has returned one) and their fakes on returns seem poorly executed.
Another great effort from Trestman and Co., especially coming off the bye week. Trestman called a great game and was not afraid to have his back up QB drop back 41 times. The defense was bad but they got to the quarterback more. I am beginning to have faith in Trestman's coaching and I don't find myself questioning many of his decisions.
How would you grade the Bears Monday?
More from Windy City Gridiron:
- The Bears Den: November 08, 2013 - Week 10 news and notes
- Chicago Bears Playbook - Matt Forte, Trestman's Chess Piece
- Chicago Bears Fantasy Football: Start 'Em and Sit 'Em vs the Lions
- Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler cleared to play vs. Detroit Lions
- Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2013: Week 9 vs. Green Bay Packers
- Ugh, You Again: Week 10, Detroit Lions