Week 3 Report Card: High marks for 'D'
Week 3 Report Card: Chicago Bears 23, St. Louis Rams 6
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.