Grading the Bears’ 40-32 failure in Detroit is an iffy proposition. To hear the coaches and players tell it, there was much to feel good about in the second half.
I’m afraid I didn’t see it.
True, the Bears “won” the second half, 19-10, and outgained the Lions, 250-127. And they didn’t quit.
The problem with that interpretation is the Lions won the first half, 30-13, when both clubs were playing on the same terms to win the game.
Had the Lions not played the entire second half in prevent mode, gladly trading yardage and occasional points for time off the clock, the glass half-full scenario might be more viable.
But the truth is, when both clubs were playing by the same rules, this was ugly.
Jay Cutler gets a C-. His 317 yards passing and two touchdowns count for something and, toward the end, when the Bears were playing because the rules required them to stay on the field for 60 minutes, he still was making the occasional throw most quarterbacks can’t.
But his three interceptions and lost fumble for a Lions touchdown were the main reason the Bears got beat.
Matt Forte gets a B+. I can’t grade the running backs, because Forte, for the most part, is the only one who played. He was in on 71 of the Bears 72 offensive snaps. Tony Fiammetta was on the field for 10 plays, strictly as a blocker and Michael Bush was on the field for just two plays, one of which was Forte’s 53-yard touchdown run. As a group, they get an incomplete.
The wide receivers get a B-. Alshon Jeffery had a nice game, catching five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown and racing 27 yards on an end around. Brandon Marshall’s seven catches for 79 yards is a nice day for most pass catchers, although a bit less than we expect from him.
But those two and Earl Bennett – the only three wideouts to play – were targeted 29 times and caught just 14 of them. Much of that’s on Cutler but some has to be on his receivers.
The offensive line gets a C-. Cutler was under more pressure than he has been at any time this season and was sacked as often in this game – three times – as he had been in the first three games combined.
But when you’re down 20 points in the first half and throw the ball 47 times, some of that is going to happen.
On the defensive line, give Julius Peppers an A- and everyone else a D. Peppers showed up and, with any help at all, the game might have gone differently. But he got no help from his linemen and the Bears are at the point this really must be addressed.
The linebackers get a C and even that’s tough because the defense spent so much time in nickel, it’s hard to grade them at all. But with Reggie Bush rushing for over 100 yards in the first half for the first time in his career, everyone must share the blame.
The secondary gets a C as well. They/Charles Tillman did their usual commendable job on Calvin Johnson but had Matt Stafford not been almost as off as Cutler in the first half, this game actually could have been much worse.
Special teams get a D+. It’s unclear what the plan was in the punting game, but Adam Podlesh was awful with a net 28.8 on five punts. Devin Hester was average in the return game and the coverage was average to terrible on the 57-yard punt return it allowed Micheal Spurlock.
This was a game the Bears would like to forget. But if they don’t remember it well and make significant corrections immediately, New Orleans could make it start to look like a dangerous trend.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.