Week 5 Report Card: Bears dominate
Week 4 Report Card: Chicago Bears 41, Jacksonville Jaguars 3
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.