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Hub Arkush: Bears better than the sum of their parts

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic , left, runs after intercepting a pass thrown by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Bears-Ravens game was different.

I know I’m stating the obvious, but when grading the Bears’ individual performances against the Ravens, it’s really critical to consider the context created by the extreme weather conditions, miserable playing surface and the fact that both teams had to overcome the unheard of one-hour, 53-minute delay.

Bears coach Marc Trestman and his entire coaching staff get an A, in large part for the way they took advantage of the long delay, refocused their team and brought them back to win a game they almost lost in the first quarter.

Trestman is having a really good rookie year.

I also want to give an A to the 46 players, as a team, for the way they responded to the conditions, the delay and all their injured teammates.

This is really important because the individual grades, even allowing for the terrible weather, are a bit below what I was prepared for when I began reviewing the tape.

Josh McCown gets a B. He took care of the football and made a few key plays when he had to, most importantly the 43-yard throw to Martellus Bennett in overtime.

But he also left more than a few plays on the field, some because of the conditions but some because of the fact he is playing conservatively and athletically. He just can’t do everything Jay Cutler can.

The running backs also get a B. Matt Forte had a really nice bounce-back game after struggling against the Lions, but too much of his production is wrapped up in the 14-yard touchdown catch and two runs of 15 and 20 yards, while his other 20 touches yielded only 76 yards.

Also, Forte’s blocking has really slipped this year, and Michael Bush remains MIA.

The receivers get a B -. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery each had key drops and Marshall caught only four of the 10 balls thrown his way, Jeffery only seven of 11.

Is it possible neither McCown nor Cutler like Earl Bennett, or can he just not get open any more. You have to agree it’s more likely the latter.

Bennett can have an A or a C -. He is really struggling with his blocking as he fights through injuries and he had two costly penalties that could merit the C -.

But I’m going with the A. He has been fighting through injuries most of the season and never complains. He plays with the kind of heart that wins championships, and, if not for his overtime catch, they might still be playing.

The offensive line also gets a B. It did a really nice job of protecting McCown as a group, but it is not blocking the run well enough on most plays. Jermon Bushrod, in particular, did a really nice job on Terrell Suggs.

The defensive line gets a B+. When Julius Peppers takes over games, the Bears’ entire defense can look different. That’s what happened against the Ravens. He was the best player on the field all day.

David Bass and Cheta Ozougwu had the biggest plays of their lives to compliment Peppers. But the rest of the line struggled and you can’t give up 174 yards rushing and expect to win games.

The linebackers get a C-. You can’t give up 174 yards rushing and expect to win games.

I’m giving the secondary a B -. Tim Jennings had a really nice game, Chris Conte was a tad better than usual, Major Wright and Isaiah Frey weren’t and Zack Bowman has to get better.

Special teams get a B on the strength of Robbie Gould being perfect and getting the game-winner in spite of the horrible conditions.

This easily was the biggest win of the season for the team, but only Peppers, Bushrod and Martellus Bennett stood out as individuals.

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

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