Chicago Bears: 2012 Report Cards

Week 17 Report Card: Forte hits milestones

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
6:11
PM ET

Week 17 Report Card: Chicago Bears 26, Detroit Lions 24

Forte
A-

Rushing Offense

With Michael Bush out of the lineup, it was nice to see the Bears show some faith in Kahlil Bell, who spelled Matt Forte some. The Bears fed Forte the ball a season-high 24 times, and he finished with his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season. In all, the Bears ran the ball 35 times for 144 yards and a touchdown. That efficiency with the rushing attack made a difference in Chicago winning the time-of-possession battle (34:09-25:51).

Cutler
B

Passing Offense

The Bears finally leaned on the other receivers such as Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett, and the duo delivered. The grade would be an "A" had Brandon Marshall been able to make a more significant contribution. Marshall's block did allow Bennett to break free on his 60-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, but he the No.1 receiver finished with five catches for 42 yards and failed to come up big for the team when it needed him in the red zone. The offensive line gave up only one sack, and Cutler finished with a passer rating of 95.8, in addition breaking 19 yards on a scramble with the game on the line.

Leshoure
A-

Rushing Defense

Mikel Leshoure seemed to have a few moments, but for the most part the Bears stuffed him. Leshoure led the Lions with 57 yards on 15 carries, and Joie Bell added six yards on two attempts. Because of their inability to run the ball consistently, and the fact they were playing from behind all game, the Lions were forced to throw 42 times. That's too many chances to take against a defense that thrives off turnovers. So by stopping the run, the Bears basically forced the Lions into the mistake-filled day they experienced.

Johnson
A-

Passing Defense

Calvin Johnson needed 108 yards to reach 2,000 and with little for Detroit to play for, it was almost a given it would focus on helping the receiver the milestone. Matthew Stafford threw 14 balls in Johnson's direction, and the receiver came up with just five of them for 72 yards and no touchdowns. Although the Bears registered only one sack, the front four generated sufficient pressure and forced Stafford to throw some errant passes. The Bears also stripped one ball away from Stafford that the offense turned into points. Tim Jennings picked off his ninth pass of the season, and Charles Tillman pretty much locked down Johnson.

Mare
C

Special Teams

Devin Hester averaged 2 yards on three punt returns, and on kickoffs he was outdone by Detroit's Bell. Hester also made a crucial mistake on the kickoff to start the second half by deciding to bring out a ball that traveled 5 yards deep into the end zone. That led the Bears starting their first drive of the second half from their own 5. Special teams coach Dave Toub has spoken a lot recently about Hester's decision-making issues. This game was a prime example. Olindo Mare made four of his five field goals, and Eric Weems recovered a fumble.

Lovie Smith
B

Coaching

The Bears captured a victory to keep alive their hopes for the postseason, and the staff prepared the players during difficult circumstances with all the speculation swirling regarding Lovie Smith's job security. On the offensive side, it appears the Bears prepared thoroughly for Detroit taking away Marshall, and that showed by the types of performances put together by Bennett and Jeffery. On defense, the Bears put together a strong game plan to stop Johnson and the players executed.

Week 16 Report Card: Big-play D returns

December, 23, 2012
12/23/12
9:10
PM ET

Week 16 Report Card: Chicago Bears 28, Arizona Cardinals 13

Forte
A-

Rushing Offense

Too bad we didn't see more of it since Matt Forte suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter that knocked him out of the game. Forte rushed for 88 yards on 12 attempts. That's right, he averaged almost 7.5 yards per carry. The Bears also received strong contributions from Armando Allen and Kahlil Bell. The offensive line blocked better, but the group still didn't open up the holes as well as it needs to in the season finale and in the playoffs if they make it. Forte seems to be gaining the majority of his yardage outside and on off-tackle runs. He needs to be gaining more up the middle, and the offensive line needs to make that possible.

Cutler
C

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler missed on his first six passes and finished the game having completed worse than 50 percent of his throws. Still the quarterback deserves credit for hitting five in a row late in the second quarter before capping an 80-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. This grade should probably be a "D." But Cutler gets credit for remaining patient and bouncing back to make some clutch throws during the two-minute warning in the second quarter. Cutler also completed passes to receivers not named Marshall for a change, and the offensive line held the Cardinals to only one sack.

Peterson
A

Rushing Defense

There's not a ton to say here. The Bears dominated in this category. Cardinals leading rusher LaRod Stephens-Howling carried the ball 11 times for 20 yards. As a team, Arizona finished with 29 yards on 19 attempts. That's not what you'd call winning football by the Cardinals, who gained just 7 yards on their longest run of the day. What's more is Chicago played Sunday without defensive tackle Henry Melton. So the Bears weren't at full strength on Sunday, but still managed to get it done.

Tillman
A-

Passing Defense

Larry Fitzgerald is one of the game's best receivers. So it wasn't a surprise to see him finish with 111 yards on eight receptions. The Bears kept Fitzgerald from putting points on the board, and the longest completion they gave up all day went for a 24-yard gain. Charles Tillman picked off Ryan Lindley and scored on a 10-yard INT return. Kelvin Hayden picked off another Arizona pass. Findley and his replacement Brian Hoyer each threw interceptions, and suffered two sacks apiece in addition to finishing with passer ratings of 55 and 51.4, respectively.

Hester
D

Special Teams

Special teams coach Dave Toub won't be pleased about the unit giving up an 82-yard touchdown on a blocked field goal. The Bears stuffed Arizona on a fake field-goal attempt, but muffed a couple of punts, including one that bounced off D.J. Moore (although Devin Hester seemed to be responsible) and gave the Cardinals possession at the Chicago 36-yard line in the second quarter. Hester averaged just 6 yards on punt returns, but managed to take a kickoff 40 yards. Adam Podlesh finished with a 40.3-yard net average and knocked three punts inside the Arizona 20.

Lovie Smith
B

Coaching

Despite a week of controversy ranging from Brian Urlacher's remarks about fans to questions about the job security of the coaches, Chicago's staff prepared the team well for a long trip out West in the face of difficult circumstances and a must-win situation. It also says something about the staff to see the Bears continue to compete hard even though they need help to get into the postseason. The Bears returned to their habit of forcing takeaways on defense, and the offense executed better (just a little) than it had been in recent outings.

Week 14 Report Card: Too many lapses

December, 9, 2012
12/09/12
6:10
PM ET

Week 14 Report Card: Minnesota Vikings 21, Chicago Bears 14

Forte
A-

Rushing Offense

It's probably shocking to read here right now that the Bears averaged 6.6 yards per attempt against the Vikings. But it's true. The problem was the Bears couldn't run the ball as much as they probably would have liked because they played from behind the entire game. Matt Forte averaged 6.5 yards per attempt and broke a 36-yarder. Michael Bush ran the ball only once, but again, that was a function of the team being forced to play from behind.

Cutler
F+

Passing Offense

Although official statistics say Jay Cutler threw just one pick-six, we'll say he threw two considering Josh Robinson's return to the Chicago 5 set up Adrian Peterson's second 1-yard scoring run. The receiving corps didn't give the quarterback much help with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery dropping catchable passes while tight end Kellen Davis continued his usual struggles. Forte and Devin Hester caught most of the balls Cutler tossed their way, and it was refreshing to see the quarterback go to other targets not named Marshall. Still, this wasn't good enough; not even close.

Peterson
F

Rushing Defense

Minnesota seized control of the game immediately by establishing Peterson, and never relinquished it. Yes, the Bears for the most part defended Peterson well in the second half by holding him to 29 yards on 13 carries. But by the time the Bears finally woke up on defense, Peterson had already delivered the knockout blow. Several players claimed the team may have come out flat. Well, that's not something teams can afford to do in December, and a veteran team such as the Bears should know that as well as anyone.

Ponder
A-

Passing Defense

Christian Ponder didn't even crack 100 yards passing, but he didn't really have to because the Vikings were so successful running the ball. The Bears held tight end Kyle Rudolph without a catch, and Minnesota's leading receiver, Michael Jenkins, finished with 36 yards. Major Wright picked off a pass after dropping one in the loss the week before to the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears limited Ponder to a passer rating of 53.8 and sacked him once.

Hester
C+

Special Teams

Eric Weems averaged just 14.8 yards on kickoff returns, but Hester brought a little bit of excitement back to the return game with five punt returns for 58 yards, including a 21-yard return. With Robbie Gould suffering an injury during pre-game warm-ups, punter Adam Podlesh stepped in on kickoffs and performed reasonably well. Zack Bowman made a nice play in knocking a ball to Weems that was downed at the Minnesota 1 late in the third quarter.

Lovie Smith
C-

Coaching

This grade could actually be a little higher because it's not the coaching staff's fault the defense allowed Peterson to go wild in Minnesota's first drive. The defensive coaches teach the proper technique to defend the run. But it's up to the players to execute the schemes, and they failed in that area, which compounded the type of game the offensive staff could call on the other side of the ball. The defense's failure to perform in a single drive basically threw the entire game off-kilter. We're not sure that's the coaching staff's fault.

Week 13 Report Card: Defensive downgrade

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
6:48
PM ET
video

Week 13 Report Card: Seattle Seahawks 23, Chicago Bears 17

Forte
A-

Rushing Offense

The Bears didn't put up big numbers. But for the second consecutive week, offensive coordinator Mike Tice made sure the team stayed committed to the ground game, and that opened up the entire playbook. The Bears ran the ball 32 times, which allowed them to possess the ball for nearly 33 minutes, and averaged 4.1 yards per rush. With that type of commitment to running the ball, it's only a matter of time before Matt Forte puts together a big game. The patchwork offensive line also deserves props for opening up some holes.

Marshall
A-

Passing Offense

The minus in the grade comes from Earl Bennett's drop in the first half on a pass that should have gone for a touchdown. Although the sun got into his eyes, Bennett knows he should've made that catch. Jay Cutler played brilliantly, finishing with a passer rating of 119.6 with two touchdowns and no interceptions as the offensive line surrendered only one sack. Brandon Marshall caught 10 balls for 165 yards. Cutler also deserves credit for feeling pressure and reacting accordingly with scrambles or movement in the pocket that bought him extra time to deliver the ball.

Lynch
D

Rushing Defense

Marshawn Lynch averaged 7.3 yards per attempt in the first half, but the Bears held him to just 36 yards on 12 attempts in the second half. Collectively, the Seahawks averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and ran the ball 32 times for 176 yards. Bears coach Lovie Smith even admitted the club's defenders struggled to get off blocks. Every game, Chicago's main objective on defense is to stop the run. The club failed miserably at that, and it opened up Seattle's passing game in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Wilson
F

Passing Defense

The Bears came close to allowing two 100-yard receivers in Sidney Rice, who finished with 99 yards and Golden Tate, who caught five passes for 96 yards. The pass rush generated two sacks on the day, but the group didn't pressure Russell Wilson enough to make a difference during crucial points in the game. Seattle converted 53 percent of third downs, including all three it faced in overtime. Wilson completed eight passes for gains of 14 yards or more and five passes for gains of 21 yards or more. That'll get you beat every time.

Gould
B+

Special Teams

Robbie Gould kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired in regulation, and booted the ball into the end zone for touchbacks on all four of his kickoffs. Adam Podlesh finished with a respectable net punting average of 41.2 yards per punt in addition to knocking three of his attempts inside the 20. Without Devin Hester in the mix, Earl Bennett and Eric Weems struggled to pick up the slack in the kickoff return game and Weems received only one opportunity as a punt returner.

Lovie Smith
D

Coaching

This could easily be an "F," but the coaches on the offensive staff deserve credit for putting together a game plan that allowed the Bears to move the ball up and down the field effectively all game as they put up 358 yards. Smith admitted that "some decisions I made really hurt us early on," especially the move to not go for the field goal in the first half. Smith said "we should have taken the field goal" and also said he did a "terrible job getting our football team ready."

Week 12 Report Card: Better all around

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
6:00
PM ET

Week 12 Report Card: Chicago Bears 28, Minnesota Vikings 10

Bush
B

Rushing Offense

The production wasn't as important as the club's intent and commitment to establishing the run. Sure, the Bears averaged 2.9 yards per attempt throughout the day. But the club ran the ball 39 times, which allowed it to dominate time of possession by 15 minutes; that's right, an entire quarter. That type of commitment to the run also opened up the passing game, in addition to slowing down the Vikings' pass rush.

Cutler
B+

Passing Offense

As receiver Brandon Marshall said, quarterback Jay Cutler "was on fire" and completed 15 of 17 passes to start the gam, but that accuracy didn't last. Perhaps the injuries along the offensive line played a role in that. Still, the offensive line put together a solid outing despite losing two starters, and gave up only one sack (the result of Cutler tripping). Earl Bennett's involvement early on might have been one of the most important developments in the passing game. By making teams respect receivers not named Marshall, the Bears can have their way with opponents.

Peterson
B+

Rushing Defense

The Bears allowed their third 100-yard rusher in four games, but Adrian Peterson's 108 yards on 18 attempts wound up being pretty insignificant in the grand scheme, because his overall impact wasn't meaningful. Peterson averaged six yards per attempt on the day. But most of his production came in the second half with the Bears leading comfortably. When it counted, Chicago stuffed Peterson and forced him to fumble twice. The Bears never let him get going early on, which proved important. At halftime, Peterson had run for 25 yards on seven attempts.

Conte
A-

Passing Defense

The Bears picked off a pass and sacked Christian Ponder twice, as the quarterback produced a passer rating of 58.2. So Chicago held its own against the pass. Minnesota's leading receiver -- tight end Kyle Rudolph -- caught just five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Of Ponder's 42 passes, just 22 found their way into the hands of Minnesota's receivers. Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright also deserve some credit for bouncing back from a shaky night on Monday night in the loss at San Francisco.

Podlesh
B+

Special Teams

Minnesota managed to block a Robbie Gould field goal, but the Bears cancelled that out by virtue of Julius Peppers blocking the 12th field goal of his career. Chicago also gets credit for successfully executing on a two-point conversion run by punter Adam Podlesh. Despite the blocked attempt, Gould connected on field goals of 47 and 46 yards. The kickoff coverage team allowed 22.3 yards per return, while Eric Weems averaged 21.7 yards on his three returns.

Lovie Smith
A

Coaching

Coming off a lopsided loss with a short week to prepare, the Bears identified the weaknesses on the offensive line, made difficult decisions and corrected the issues there, which provided Cutler a chance to put together a strong outing in his return. Defensively, the Bears basically stuffed the NFL's top rusher in Peterson just six days after letting the 49ers average 4.1 yards per attempt, and returned to their habit of forcing takeaways.

Week 11 Report Card: Nothing went well

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
1:30
AM ET


Week 11 Report Card: San Francisco 49ers 32, Chicago Bears 7

Forte
D

Rushing Offense

The Bears faced the No. 1 rush defense and it punched them in the mouth, limiting Matt Forte and Michael Bush to a combined 72 yards on 26 carries. Because the club fell behind so far so early, it basically had to abandon the rushing attack and try to throw the ball to get back into the game. Forte ripped off the team's longest run of the night, which went for just eight yards.

Campbell
F

Passing Offense

The Bears experienced breakdowns on every level, but perhaps the worst came from the offensive line, which allowed six sacks, including 5.5 from Aldon Smith. The pressure made for a jittery pocket presence from backup Jason Campbell, who finished with a passer rating of 52.7 and tossed two interceptions. San Francisco basically erased Brandon Marshall, the Bears' most dynamic receiving threat and the supporting cast couldn't pick up the slack. Take away Marshall's two catches, and the rest of the team combined for 12 receptions.

Gore
D+

Rushing Defense

At least the Bears didn't allow their third consecutive 100-yard rusher. Frank Gore finished with 78 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry while Kendall Hunter contributed a 5.4-yard average. Chicago didn't exactly shut down San Francisco's ground game, as the 49ers seemed to run the ball whenever they needed to control the clock. The 49ers gained six first downs running the ball.

Kaepernick
F

Passing Defense

Poor play from the safety position drags down this grade quite a bit. Major Wright and Chris Conte struggled to cover San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, who finished with 83 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Davis could have done even more damage had Colin Kaepernick thrown more catchable balls. The Bears gave up completions of 32, 20, 57, and 37 yards as the quarterback generated a passer rating of 133.1 with all the time in the world to throw.

Hester
C-

Special Teams

Adam Podlesh punted better than he did in the game before, finishing with a 43-yard net average, and a 53-yard punt. But return man Devin Hester ran backward all night on punts because he appeared to be pressing to make a big play. Hester performed better on kickoff returns, but his longest runback of the night went for 30 yards. Kicker Robbie Gould never received an opportunity to put three points on the board.

Lovie Smith
D

Coaching

The Bears rarely perform as badly on defense as they did Monday against the 49ers, and it appeared coaching had a lot to do with this fiasco. Chicago's defense didn't appear to be very well-prepared, especially the front four and the safeties. What's worse is the Bears seemed shell-shocked by the early 49ers onslaught. After allowing Green Bay to take away Brandon Marshall back in Sept. with two-man coverage, there's no way another team should be able to repeat the tactic without the Bears having an effective answer. Again, that's a function of coaching. Chicago was outcoached on all levels in this one.

Week 10 Report Card: Dismal day

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
1:52
AM ET


Week 10 Report Card: Houston Texans 13, Chicago Bears 6

Forte
F

Rushing Offense

The Bears faced the No. 2 rush defense in the NFL, and clearly they weren't ready. Running back Matt Forte averaged 2.4 yards per attempt, and in this case 16 attempts might have been too much for him, given his lack of production. Michael Bush ran three times for 34 yards, but lost a fumble. As a whole, the Bears averaged five yards per attempt, but it's telling when Cutler -- who played just the first half -- is the team's second-leading rusher. Chicago's inability to run the ball seriously limited what it could do through the air, especially off play-action.

Cutler
D

Passing Offense

By taking an early lead, Houston put Jay Cutler in somewhat of a difficult situation because he isn't used to playing from behind. Cutler's first interception resulted in a Shayne Graham field goal, but his receivers -- namely tight end Kellen Davis -- made the quarterback's numbers look worse, and we'd be remiss to not mention the dropped pass in the end zone by Brandon Marshall that could have swung the momentum. Cutler played just a half and finished with a passer rating of 16.7. Backup Jason Campbell struggled in relief. But that can be attributed to the lack of repetitions given at that position throughout the week.

Foster
D

Rushing Defense

The Bears have allowed 100-yard rushers in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. Foster rushed for 102 yards as the Bears struggled to stay in their gaps, especially on runs off tackle. In addition to mishaps with gap responsibility, the Bears flat out struggled at tackling. Chicago came into the game ranked sixth in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 88 yards per game. By failing to control Houston's rushing attack early on, they let the Texans build a lead the offense couldn't recover from. During their only TD drive, the Texans ran the ball three times in a row for 52 yards. Unacceptable.

Jennings
A-

Passing Defense

Tim Jennings picked of two passes, and Houston's leading receiver was running back Arian Foster (five catches, 15 yards, 1 TD). Andre Johnson led the Texans in receiving yardage (35). But as a whole the Bears allowed just 95 yards through the air. Obviously, the rainy, windy conditions played a part in that. Chicago never let Houston take control of the game because it shut down the Texans' ability to keep drives alive with the pass. Houston quarterback Matt Schaub finished with a 42.9 passer rating.

Gould
C+

Special Teams

Return man Devin Hester made a few plays last week against the Titans, but failed to deliver Sunday in front of the home crowd, which definitely needed a lift after watching a horrid offense all day. Robbie Gould deserves credit for powering a 51-yard field goal through the uprights against the wind. Adam Podlesh put two of his five punts on the night inside the 20, and finished with a 38.8 net punting average.

Lovie Smith
C

Coaching

In defense of the coaching staff, it doesn't throw interceptions, fumble or give up runs of 20-plus yards. All occurred against the Texans on Sunday, but the staff shouldn't be blamed for that. The offensive staff is definitely accountable for the club's inability to take advantage of the aggressive coverages the Texans played and the group's struggles in the run game. At the same time, the team's No. 1 receiver can't drop balls in the end zone. The tight end can't fumble, and the quarterback shouldn't be throwing two interceptions. Defensively, the Bears slipped during only one drive all night, and unfortunately it cost the club the game.

Week 9 Report Card: Smashing success

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
6:45
PM ET
video

Week 9 Report Card: Chicago Bears 51, Tennessee Titans 20

Forte
A

Rushing Offense

Matt Forte scored a touchdown and put together just his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Forte averaged 8.6 yards per attempt, and the offensive line dominated as the team finished with 160 yards total. Interestingly, Chicago's offensive line seems better suited to run block than pass protect. Yet every time the Bears have success running the ball, the coaching staff decides to get cute with passing plays. From this vantage point, Forte and the rushing attack are the keys to success for this offense. The Bears need to lean on the ground game much more.

Cutler
B+

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler's 138.1 passer rating is somewhat deceiving, as are his three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, who finished with nine grabs for 122 yards. As usual, the offense started slow and, despite the dominating victory, the passing game remains a bit of a concern moving forward. The Bears built a 26-point lead in the first quarter, which allowed them to remain two-dimensional. But how well will the Bears be able to throw when the opponent knows they're going to pass it? So far in those situations, the Bears haven't performed. Pass protection also remains a concern.

Johnson
B-

Rushing Defense

Chris Johnson busted an 80-yard run late in the game. So the Bears definitely drop one letter grade for the lapse. If you subtract that run, the Titans would have finished with just 79 yards. The Bears hadn't allowed a 100-yard rushing performance in 18 games (Oct. 10, 2011 at Detroit). So even though the Bears thoroughly dominated the Titans, allowing Johnson to hit the century mark should be frustrating for the club on some level.

Urlacher
A-

Passing Defense

Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball 35 times, but finished with fewer than 200 yards through the air. Brian Urlacher delivered a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the pass rush managed to sack Hasselbeck twice. The Bears also forced fumbles in the passing game. Tim Jennings gave up a touchdown against Nate Washington, but actually covered the play well. The Bears allowed just one completion for more than 19 yards all day, which is impressive considering the Titans played most of the game in comeback mode.

Wooton
A

Special Teams

Sherrick McManis blocked a punt that Corey Wootton scooped up and returned for a touchdown, and Devin Hester broke a 44-yard punt return that set up Forte's touchdown. Adam Podlesh finished with a 38.3-yard net average, and landed only one of his three punts inside the 20. Robbie Gould connected on all three of his field goal attempts, and the kickoff team limited Darius Reynaud to a 20.7-yard average on returns.

Lovie Smith
A-

Coaching

It's telling that the Tennessee coaching staff warned the Titans all week about Chicago's penchant for forcing turnovers, yet the Bears still found a way to feast off of them in a road game. That speaks to solid coaching, and the fact the staff has built a culture within that locker room in which turnovers and scoring on defense are paramount to overall team success. Offensively, there's still plenty of work to do in terms of play calling and pass protection up front. The Bears are too reliant on Marshall in the passing game, and need to find ways to successfully deploy and utilize other options.

Week 8 Report Card: A late push

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
5:56
PM ET

Week 8 Report Card: Chicago Bears 23, Carolina Panthers 22

Forte
C

Rushing Offense

The Bears established the run early on, and averaged 6.4 yards per attempt in the first half. But in the second half, the club strayed from the rushing attack despite trailing by just six points at intermission. Matt Forte and Michael Bush combined to run for 64 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts through the first two quarters, but received handoffs in the second half a total of eight more times. What's baffling is the Bears continue to try to run play action before actually running the ball sufficiently to set it up.

Cutler
D+

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler admitted to making errant throws, while acknowledging he might have been at fault for some of the six sacks. Brandon Marshall admitted to dropping catchable passes, but he wasn't the only player out there bobbling balls. The Bears couldn't convert a third down until there was 9:27 left in the game and finished with a 25 percent conversion rate (2 of 8). The pass protection improved in the second half, after giving up six sacks. But 11 sacks in seven days is alarming.

Stewart
A

Rushing Defense

Carolina's offense displayed more commitment to the ground attack than the Bears, but the Panthers were largely ineffective. Running the ball 36 times, the Panthers averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt with Jennings (eight tackles) also playing a role in run defense, along with Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, who each contributed seven tackles. Because of Carolina's inability to gain first downs by running the ball, it was unable to hold onto the late lead. Obviously, Chicago's front seven had a lot to do with that.

Newton
B

Passing Defense

The Bears never worry about the yardage they surrender, as long as they're keeping points off the board. But it's definitely a tad concerning to see the Panthers complete three passes for gains of 25 yards or more, including one 47-yard completion and another from 62 yards out. Steve Smith gained 118 yards, but didn't score. Despite the yardage given up, the Bears deserve credit for taking away the ball and scoring on Tim Jennings' 25-yard interception return. Jennings finished with two INTs, and the Bears sacked Cam Newton twice, which isn't an easy feat.

Gould
A-

Special Teams

Despite Robbie Gould missing a 33-yarder in stiff wind, the Bears still receive an "A" because the veteran atoned for the miss with the game-winning 41-yard field goal as time expired. Adam Podlesh finished with a 44.8-yard net punting average in addition to knocking three balls inside the 20 in difficult elements. To put it in perspective, his counterpart Brad Nortman finished with a 22-yard net average, with his longest punt travelling 36 yards. Devin Hester tried to be more aggressive in the return game, but averaged just 5.5 yards on punt returns.

Lovie Smith
B

Coaching

Offensively the Bears continue to start slow in part because they haven't fully committed to running the ball. Cutler suffering a sack on the team's first play from scrimmage is starting to seem like a common occurrence. But at the same time, it's not easy for a team to play a tough opponent on Monday night, then come back and face another team in six days. So the staff deserves credit for having the team ready to go. The defensive staff continues to put its group in the position to make plays. Sure the defense gave up yards, but it made timely stops and forced its usual turnovers.

Week 7 Report Card: Job well done

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
1:45
AM ET

Week 7 Report Card: Chicago Bears 13, Detroit Lions 7

Forte
A-

Rushing Offense

The Bears gained 171 yards and average 5.3 yards per carry, which allowed them to lead time of possession by nearly 10 minutes. During the week leading into the game, the staff spoke extensively about the need to establish the run and achieved that against the Lions. The Bears gained 109 yards in the first half, which means the club got off to a fast start but lost some juice in the second half. That needs to improve.

Cutler
C

Passing Offense

This is a difficult grade because Chicago faced a solid Detroit front and for the most part held its own despite Jay Cutler absorbing five sacks. Cutler had taken five sacks in the three previous games combined leading into Monday night's matchup. Then, when Cutler suffered the rib injury in the second quarter taking a sack from Ndamukong Suh, ensuing soreness affected his accuracy. Cutler still completed passes to six receivers. The most concerning element of the passing offense was the offensive line, which in addition to giving up the sacks made several mistakes that resulted in unnecessary penalties.

Leshoure
B

Rushing Defense

The Bears managed to limit the Lions to less than 100 yards, but it's a little concerning they were able to average 5.5 yards per attempt. Matthew Stafford's three scrambles for 23 yards sort of beefs up Detroit's rushing average, but Mikel Leshoure averaged 5.3 yards on 12 attempts. The fact the Lions passed the ball 46 times indicates Chicago made them one dimensional by stuffing the run. The Bears also made critical stops in short-yardage situations, in addition to forcing a fumble.

Stafford
A-

Passing Defense

Chicago came close to pitching its first shutout of the Lions since 2001, but it gave up a touchdown pass with just 30 ticks left on the clock. For the rest of the night, the Bears -- highlighted by a brilliant performance from Charles Tillman covering Calvin Johnson -- held the Lions in check, sacking Stafford three times in addition to picking him off once. Johnson, who was targeted 11 times, caught just three passes. Stafford, meanwhile, was under constant duress.

Gould
B-

Special Teams

The Bears' field goal team allowed Detroit to block a Robbie Gould attempt, and the punt return team never got anything going against a struggling Lions coverage unit with punter Nick Harris knocking three balls inside the 20. Chicago's special teams unit didn't perform particularly bad, and Eric Weems provided somewhat of a highlight with a 27-yard return. The blocked field-goal attempt drops this grade, but the unit deserves credit for forcing a couple of fumbles and recovering one.

Lovie Smith
A-

Coaching

The supposedly non-blitzing boring Cover 2 Bears flipped the script against Stafford and brought five or more on 28.8 percent of the quarterback's dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That number represents Chicago's second-highest rate of bringing five thus far this season, and it's clear the slight change surprised Stafford and caught Detroit's offense off guard. Offensively, the Bears made good on their promises to establish the run. Every game can't be a blowout. What's important is the club held its own against a talented and desperate team and showed little rust after a week off.

Week 5 Report Card: Bears dominate

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
7:39
PM ET

Week 4 Report Card: Chicago Bears 41, Jacksonville Jaguars 3

Bush
A+

Rushing Offense

Chicago quietly averaged 6.5 yards per carry with Matt Forte churning out 107 yards on 22 carries. The Bears also ran the ball 33 times, which allowed them to dominate time of possession by exactly 12 minutes. The Bears converted 59 percent of third downs, and the running game played a role by putting the team in advantageous situations with positive gains on runs on first and second down.

Jay Cutler
B

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler started off slow, but remained patient and let the game come to him. That resulted in the quarterback throwing two fourth-quarter passes to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall as his passer rating improved from 45.8 to 88.8. Cutler's offensive line provided solid protection, allowing the quarterback to spray the ball to seven different targets.

Murrayr
A

Rushing Defense

The Jaguars showed early on they'd be committed to running the ball, but the Bears quickly changed the home team's plans by stuffing Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew averaged 4.7 yards per attempt, but his impact was minimal because the Bears stopped him early and forced Jacksonville into a passing game. By becoming one dimensional, Jacksonville opened the door for sacks and interceptions.

Briggs
A-

Passing Defense

This grade should probably be higher, but the sluggish start drops it somewhat. After all, the Bears limited Blaine Gabbert to 142 yards through the air, and the quarterback finished with a passer rating of 37.7. What's more is the Bears scored two touchdowns off interceptions for the second consecutive game by Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs. Chicago's defensive line struggled at first to get to Gabbert, but unleashed three sacks in the second half, including two by Corey Wootton.

Gould
B

Special Teams

Robbie Gould kicked two field goals, and hasn't yet missed an attempt. Devin Hester ran back one kickoff 28 yards, but averaged 2 yards on four punt returns. Hester seems to be on the verge of breaking a big return, but it hasn't yet happened. Adam Podlesh, meanwhile, finished with a 34-yard net average and kicked only one of his punts inside the Jaguars' 20.

Lovie Smith
A+

Coaching

The staff deserves credit for preparing the team to play a lowly Jacksonville squad in just six days after such an emotional game on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. It should also be commended for the adjustments made at halftime in every facet of the game after a sluggish start. Bears coach Lovie Smith said he couldn't figure out why the team started so slow. But the staff found a way to right the ship.

Week 4 Report Card: A total success

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
2:09
AM ET

Week 4 Report Card: Chicago Bears 34, Dallas Cowboys 18

Bush
B+

Rushing Offense

In this case, it's not so much about the numbers as much as the intent and the fact Chicago's ability to move the ball on the ground kept the club from becoming one-dimensional, which could have led to a difficult night in pass protection. Matt Forte and Michael Bush combined for 81 yards as the former averaged 4 yards per attempt.

Jay Cutler
A

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler deserves credit for challenging receiver Brandon Marshall and the entire offense to do a better job of playing within the system. That played a role in the duo connecting seven times for 138 yards and a touchdown. Cutler finished with a passer rating of 140.1 and threw a pair of touchdown passes as four receivers (Marshall, Kellen Davis, Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester) caught at least three passes apiece while averaging 10.7 yards or more per catch.

Murrayr
A+

Rushing Defense

The Bears stuffed Dallas' rushing game, and forced the Cowboys to get into passing mode fairly early. That allowed Chicago to unleash the pass rush more effectively. DeMarco Murray averaged 2.2 yards per attempt, and as a team the Cowboys ran the ball 14 times for 41 yards, with more than half of those yards coming on two carries.

Briggs
A+

Passing Defense

The pass defense should get a gold star, too. Tony Romo passed for 307 yards, sure. But he finished with a passer rating of 60.1 as the Bears picked off five passes, with Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs taking picks to the house for TDs. Major Wright picked off two passes and now has three INTs in his last two games. The Bears sacked Romo only once, but some of the errant passes he threw came as a result of pressure from the front four.

Gould
A

Special Teams

Robbie Gould kicked two field goals, and hasn't yet missed an attempt thus far this season. Devin Hester averaged 25 yards on two kickoff returns, but received only one shot to return a punt (8-yard gain) Adam Podlesh finished with a 40-yard net average and put two punts inside the Cowboys 20.

Lovie Smith
A+

Coaching

The plus comes from the fact the Bears put together such a strong performance on the road against a top opponent in front of a national audience. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice found a play-calling rhythm quickly, and that led to the offense pretty much moving the ball at will. The Bears finished with 360 net yards against the top-ranked defense in the NFL and led time of possession on the road. Defensively, the Bears came out with a game plan that shut down the Cowboys running game and pressured Romo into mistakes. The Bears now lead the NFL in takeaways (14), and solid coaching definitely plays a role in that.

Week 3 Report Card: High marks for 'D'

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
8:35
PM ET

Week 3 Report Card: Chicago Bears 23, St. Louis Rams 6

Bush
B

Rushing Offense

With starter Matt Forte out of the lineup, the Bears didn't put up huge numbers on the ground. But after running the ball inconsistently in the first quarter it appeared the team committed to the ground game from the second quarter on. Michael Bush rushed for 55 yards on 18 carries, but the team also received contributions from Cutler (21 yards), Hester, Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen. The yardage doesn't matter as much as the commitment to running.

Jay Cutler
C

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler made better decisions with the ball, but many of the same problems the team experienced in the loss to the Packers emerged. Cutler threw several errant passes, while Brandon Marshall's issues with dropping passes continued, even though he redeemed himself by making a 34-yard grab in the fourth quarter. Devin Hester missed what should have been a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. And although Cutler suffered just two sacks, the offensive line didn't consistently give the quarterback the time he needed to find open receivers.

Urlacher
A

Rushing Defense

Steven Jackson has rushed for 1,000 yards or more in seven consecutive seasons, and the Bears limited him to 2.6 yards per carry. By taking the run away early, the Bears made the Rams one-dimensional, thus predictable. That allowed the defense to get into a pass-rush mode. So in a way, the team's dominance against the run helped it against the pass. Lance Briggs led the way with seven tackles.

Idonije
A

Passing Defense

Led by Israel Idonije (2.5 sacks), the Bears sacked Sam Bradford six times as the quarterback finished with a passer rating of 39.2. Tim Jennings picked off his fourth pass of the year, and tipped another pass that safety Major Wright returned for a touchdown. Brian Urlacher broke up two passes in one drive on intermediate throws. So this was a strong all-around performance from the defense, but the front four was definitely the star of the show.

Gould
A

Special Teams

Give Robbie Gould credit for nailing three field goals, including a 54-yard bomb for the team's first score. Hester averaged 28.3 yards on kickoff returns and 13 on punt returns, and appears to be due to bust a big return. Adam Podlesh landed two punts inside the St. Louis 20. Chicago's coverage teams limited the return yardage on punts from Danny Amendola.

Lovie Smith
A

Coaching

Offensively, Chicago chose to commit to the run and that opened up things enough for the Bears to make plays in the passing game when they needed to. The performance wasn't flashy by any means, but flashy isn't what wins football games. The Bears used maximum protection on several of their passes to better protect Cutler and for the most part the protection held up. Defensively, the Bears have put together three pretty strong performances. That consistency is definitely a credit to the coaching staff, which knows the personnel's capabilities well enough to seemingly always put the players in a position to succeed.

Week 2 Report Card: Gimme an F ...

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
1:35
AM ET

Week 1 Report Card: Green Bay Packers 23, Chicago Bears 10

Matt Forte
C+

Rushing Offense

It was difficult to tell, but the Bears actually averaged 4.1 yards per carry against the Packers. The problem was the Bears fell behind early to the Packers as usual, and they were forced to play catch up with the passing game. So by becoming one dimensional, the Bears couldn't get the play-action passing game going. Michael Bush and Matt Forte combined for 85 yards on 21 attempts.

Jay Cutler
F

Passing Offense

The offensive line brings down the grade significantly because of its inability to adequately protect Jay Cutler, who was a victim of seven sacks. But Cutler shares in the responsibility because he held the ball longer than necessary on a few occasions, and threw to open receivers late on others. The Packers used clever schemes to neutralize receiver Brandon Marshall, but players such as Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett couldn't pick up the slack.

Benson
D

Rushing Defense

Green Bay ran the ball just well enough to keep it unpredictable, which is all the club needed to do to keep the Bears on their heels. Former Chicago first-round pick Cedric Benson averaged 4.1 yards per attempt and ran the ball 20 times, which played a part in the Packers winning the time-of-possession battle.

Jennings
D

Passing Defense

The Bears allowed 10.7 yards per completion and catches of 20-plus yards to four different receivers. The Bears did manage to limit the Packers to 4-of-14 on third downs, but they gave up two late touchdown passes that blew open the game. Tim Jennings has picked off three passes over the past two games and remains one of the few bright spots in pass coverage. Linebacker Lance Briggs can't afford to drop interceptions the way he did.

Crabtree
F

Special Teams

Give up a touchdown, get an "F." There's no way the Bears, which often field some of the best special-teams units in the NFL, should be giving up a touchdown on a fake field goal. Devin Hester keeps this grade from being an "F-minus" because he returned a kickoff 38 yards.

Lovie Smith
D

Coaching

The Bears came into Thursday night's game knowing there was a strong possibility the Packers would play two-man coverage to take away Marshall, but they couldn't do anything to challenge the scheme by involving other players. On special teams, the Bears gave up a touchdown on a fake field goal in a crucial situation just before halftime. Those types of problems in games are purely a product of being outcoached.

Report Card: Much to like in Week 1 rout

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
3:47
PM ET

Week 1 Report Card: Chicago Bears 41, Indianapolis Colts 21

Matt Forte
A

Rushing Offense

By the halfway point of the third quarter, Matt Forte and Michael Bush had combined for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Those kinds of numbers almost guarantee victory for teams. What's more is that Forte averaged 10.6 yards per attempt in a blistering opening quarter, and accounted for 47 during the club's first scoring drive, which interestingly was capped by Bush. By regularly shuffling in the running backs, the Bears keep defenses off balance because the players' running styles are so different.

Jay Cutler
B-

Passing Offense

Ugly start for the Bears with quarterback Jay Cutler forcing throws to Brandon Marshall and throwing an interception early that was returned for a touchdown by Jerrell Freeman. Still it didn't take long for Cutler to find a rhythm once the club got the running game popping and the offensive line settled in. Cutler shows a tendency to try to force too many balls to Marshall, which is something defenses will quickly begin to lock on and take advantage of. Rookie Alshon Jeffery showed plenty of promise, especially with his 42-yard touchdown catch. But the Bears can't afford for Cutler to get off to another slow start Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.

Donald Brown
A-

Rushing Defense

Indianapolis became a one-dimensional team quickly because the Bears stuffed the rushing attack early, forcing the Colts to go to the aerial attack. Donald Brown did manage to reel off an 18-yard run, which is why the Bears receive an A- instead of an A here. Through the first three quarters, the Colts gained just four of their first downs with the ground game. By stuffing the run game, the Bears forced a lopsided time of possession that basically kept the Indianapolis offense off the field.

Jennings
B-

Passing Defense

It's difficult to gauge this category, in part, because the Bears faced a rookie quarterback in Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, who flashed signs, but clearly was overwhelmed by a veteran Bears defense that hit him repeatedly. Tim Jennings had two interceptions and tipped another pass in the end zone that was picked off by safety Chris Conte and Major Wright played a relatively mistake-free game. The only concern about the secondary moving forward is the health of Charles Tillman, who suffered a leg injury and left the game. It's encouraging however, that Tillman's backup is veteran Kelvin Hayden. It's also a tad alarming that Reggie Wayne broke the century mark in receiving yards.

Devin Hester
A

Special Teams

J.T. Thomas forced a fumble by Colts return man LaVonn Brazill that was recovered by Kelvin Hayden. The turnover led to a Robbie Gould field goal. Devin Hester gained 23 yards on the only punt he returned, and he averaged 24.5 yards on his first two returns. So although the Bears didn't reel off any explosive returns, the club was fairly efficient in that department. The Bears receive an A in this category for forcing the turnover that led to points.

Lovie Smith
A-

Coaching

The Bears entered the opener with a solid game plan on offense, and there's not much the staff can do about Cutler's decision making on some of the throws he attempted. Surely offensive coordinator Mike Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates will work with Cutler going into the matchup Thursday with the Packers. Defensively, the Bears probably surprised the Colts with some of the man-coverage schemes they ran, which played a role in the front seven getting to Luck on several occasions. The Bears show much more diversity on both sides of the ball than they have in the recent pass. We see that trend continuing.

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