Week 7 Report Card: Job well done
Week 7 Report Card: Chicago Bears 13, Detroit Lions 7
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.