Yesterday's loss is not the end of the world. The Lions are playing good football right now and the Bears were on the road. It's only week 4 and there is still a long, long way to go. That said, it was not pretty for the men in orange and navy.
The Bears defense gave up 387 yards to the Lions and 23 first downs. Reggie Bush gashed the Bears for 173 total yards and Michael Spurlock racked up 119 return yards.
For the Bears, they went 1 for 13 on third down and 2 for 5 in the redzone. They did out-gain the Lions in total yards (417), but it was not enough to overcome the early 30-10 deficit on the way to a 40-32 loss.
So lets get to the grades, shall we?
Garbage time was Cutler's savior yesterday. He completed only 57% of his passes and threw three interceptions. He had some good throws but for the most part it was an off day for the Bears QB. His first interception wasn't terrible; Louis Delmas simply broke on the ball and was able to wrestle it away from Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery had position and the throw wasn't really late. The second, not so much; Cutler used sloppy mechanics and lobbed a throw that was way off target and there for the taking. The third one was just as ugly. Cutler had a better set up but just sailed the ball over Jeffery and right into the hands of Delmas. His fumble also didn't help his grade any. Four turnovers by the QB is not going to win many games. He got two touchdowns late but the damage was done, he ended with a 65.6 rating and a 36.6 Total QBR.
Running backs: B
The run game actually worked very well for the Bears yesterday. Matt Forte had 95 yards on 14 carries (6.8 YPC) and a 53 yard touchdown run. Alshon Jeffery had an effective 27 yard end around that set up the TD run. Forte also caught five passes out of the back field. Forte did miss a block on Stephen Tulloch's sack in the second quarter. No other backs appear in the box score.
Wide receivers: A-
Say what you will but the receivers had a solid game. I didn't think any of them could have prevented any of Cutler's picks, they played physical when they had to and they contested the ball well and positioned themselves consistently to catch the ball. Jeffery had his first 100-yard receiving game (107 on five catches) and a touchdown, Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 79 yards and Earl Bennett had two catches for 19 yards and a touchdown. While there were a couple drops (Jeffery dropped a TD and Bennett dropped one in the final minute, Marshall also had a couple slip away), I saw more off-target passes that weren't on the receivers or bad decisions by Cutler throwing into good coverage. The group also is very good at blocking downfield, especially on Forte's TD. Overall the group played well.
Tight ends: B
Martellus Bennett had a good game catching the ball with eight catches for 90 yards. However, he dropped a touchdown and while it wasn't an easy catch, he was so close to having it I thought he could have pulled it in but maybe I'm being harsh because of the incredible acrobatic catches we've seen from him so far this year. He wasn't used a ton in pass blocking yesterday but he did well run blocking.
Offensive line: D+
The group did fairly well in the run game, although there were several instances of Forte bailing them out by eluding would-tacklers in the backfield or slipping through tight gaps to find running room. In the passing game though it was a whole other issue; rookie sensation Kyle Long had a rough outing, getting full-on abused by Ndamukong Suh at times, especially on his sack. On the sack/fumble it looked to my eyes to be a combination of Long and Roberto Garza but I'll let Lester break that one down in Sackwatch. Long also had an illegal use of the hands penalty that negated a first down play and Jordan Mills had the unit's first false start of the season and a holding penalty. The first true test of the new and improved offensive line (a road game in a dome) did not go well.
Offensive unit grade: C-
Perhaps this should be lower but they did piece together some dink and dunk garbage time drives that looked OK. Mostly the grade was bumped up by the TEs, WRs and RBs having a decent day but being let down by their QB and the line. Ugly day offensively.
Defensive line: D
Granted that the Lions offensive line is greatly improved (something Spongie, Schweickert and I talked about in the pre-party) the D-line of the Bears just did not do enough to make a difference. They tallied three tackles for a loss, one QB hit and one sack. Julius Peppers had the one sack and forced a fumble on it, which was recovered by Shea McClellin. Corey Wootton forced a fumble and recovered it but he also had a neutral zone infraction. Overall the line did not get enough penetration on Bush's big runs and they also could not shed blocks and missed tackles when they had the chance.
The group did not play particularly badly but they did not play great either. They missed tackles that allowed Bush to gash the defense and at times they left the middle of the field open to big plays to Kris Durham (three catches 58 yards) and Brandon Pettigrew (seven catches, 54 yards). Lance Briggs led the team with nine solo tackles and D.J. Williams added a tackle for loss.
As a whole the defense help true to its "bend, but don't break" core by not allowing big plays (only four plays of 20+ yards) and the cornerbacks were a big part of that. Detroit's longest pass play was 24 yards. Charles Tillman held Calvin Johnson to four catches (on 10 targets) for 44 yards and a touchdown. Durham was the only other Lions wide receiver to catch a pass.
The safeties had a good game. They weren't out of position very often and kept the plays in front of them (noted by the above statistic about plays of 20+ yards allowed). Chris Conte chalked up six tackles, all solo and Major Wright had three tackles, a pass deflection and an admittedly lucky pick, but he was where he was supposed to be which put him in place to catch the deflected ball. On Bush's 37-yard run Conte snuck into the box at the snap, which when Bush went up the middle took him out of the play, Wright put himself in a good position to tackle Bush, but he hurdled Wright en route to the endzone.
Defensive grade: C-
Watching the film you don't see the Bears getting burned or being out of position too often, it was just a case of missed tackles and turnovers and special teams giving the Lions a short field and prime scoring chances. That said, it's still no excuse for the poor tackling and the defensive line's woes have to be getting close to panic level. The lack of pressure and penetration is opening up the field for opposing running backs. Let's hope Mel Tucker and Co. can learn from this and stop Bush when he comes to Chicago in November.
Special teams: C
It's tough to knock the is unit too much because Adam Podlesh averaged 40.2 yards per punt, didn't allow a touchback on his five punts and helped hold the Lions to only one punt return. Now that one return was for 57 yards and set up a Lions TD four plays later. Spurlock also averaged 20.7 yards on kick returns. Robbie Gould hit all three of field goal attempts but Devin Hester did not have a good day punt returning, averaging only 8.5 yards on two punt returns but he did have a healthy 24.5 yard kick return average.
There wasn't much evidence out there to say the Bears had a terrible game plan, as much as it was poorly executed. The Bears had a healthy run game going and evidently saw a match up they liked with Jeffery against the Lions secondary. The turnovers and short field the Bears gave the Lions in the first half is what sunk them. Late in the game the Bears were able to put a coupe drives together and I was glad to see that the team didn't roll over when the Lions were up by 17 at the half. Trestman kept the team fighting and didn't give up until the very end and the players seemed to play hard for him until the end too.
Overall grade: C-
A below average day for the Bears. While certain positions let the team down more than others (Cutler, I'm looking in your direction), this game wasn't a total domination from beginning to end. The game was lost by missed tackles and four turnovers by the QB but there is reason for hope. The team never quit fighting and if the Bears had one less interception or had tackled Spurlock on the big punt return sooner we're talking about a whole different game. But alas, that's not case and the game turned out poorly for the Bears. Hopefully they can get it turned around with the Saints coming to Soldier Field on a short week.
How would you grade the Bears yesterday?