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Hub Arkush: Difficult to grade Bears vs. Lions

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Charles Rex Arbogast)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson makes a touchdown reception behind Bears cornerback Charles Tillman during the second half Sunday at Soldier Field. The Lions won, 21-19, and Tillman is out for the rest of the regular season with a triceps injury. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Bears’ individual performances in their 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions are the most difficult to grade of the season because there are so many extenuating circumstances to consider.

How might the offensive line and the Lions’ defense respond if the Bears had a healthy quarterback in the game?

Could the Bears’ defense have been as effective as it was if Lions quarterback Matt Stafford hadn’t thrown the football so poorly?

Let’s start with the obvious, or maybe not so obvious. Marc Trestman gets a C-.

He didn’t fail because it took some good coaching to keep the game as competitive as it was in spite of the limitations of his quarterback. The defense was as competitive as it’s been all year, and for that the boss gets points.

But with a night’s sleep and a few more runs through the tape, even with his insistence Monday he believes he did the right thing, it’s still difficult to understand why he stayed with Jay Cutler as long as he did.

Cutler gets an incomplete. What would everybody be saying about him had he taken himself out, or not gone as far as his coach would allow?

He had a nice first drive and did make the occasional nice throw throughout the game. But it was clear from fairly early on he was limited and that his team would have been better served by a healthy Josh McCown.

The running backs get a C. It’s hard to run the football when the offensive line isn’t clearing any space, but I can’t remember seeing Matt Forte go down on so many arm tackles and one-on-ones with defensive backs in open space.

I don’t know what’s happened to Michael Bush, but it sure seems like it’s time to give Michael Ford a look, because Bush is giving you nothing.

Wide receivers and tight ends get a B. Actually, Brandon Marshall gets a B+ and everyone else B- or C+, so I’m averaging it out.

Alshon Jeffery made some nice plays and had 114 yards receiving, but he dropped a pass he should have had for a touchdown before the Bears’ first field goal, he failed to hold on to the catch we thought he had for a touchdown before the second field goal, and it’s time to give the Jeffery end around a rest.

The offensive line gets a C-. It would be a D, but they didn’t get Cutler killed, and it is more difficult to protect a quarterback who clearly can’t move.

The run blocking was terrible, the QBs got hit 11 times and Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley owned the interior of the line of scrimmage.

The defensive line also earned a C-. While Cutler was taking a beating, the Bears didn’t sack or hit Stafford once. They were gashed for a few gaping holes that allowed Reggie Bush to average 7.5 yards on 14 carries.

The linebackers earned a C+. James Anderson was the Bears’ best defender and is doing fine in the Lance Briggs’ role. Jon Bostic was better. Khaseem Greene wasn’t.

The secondary gets a C with each of the four starters getting torched a couple of times. They were playing better than they have other than those occasional brain cramps.

On the Chris Conte interception, it was one of the many gifts Stafford handed out Sunday.

Special teams get a B for outplaying the Lions in every phase, although Bears’ coaches say there was a block missed on a return that cost the Bears a touchdown.

This was a game the Bears win if the offense plays to its ability, and the loss will be remembered more for the coach’s decisions than the players’ play.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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