Bears Positional Game Grades: Week 4

Our positional game grades for the Chicago Bears following the Week 4 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Offense

Quarterback: B+

Remember the days when people used to question Jay Cutler's toughness? You know, like probably just two days ago by some national columnist or talking head? Yet for anyone who has actually paid attention to Cutler's career, it's clear he's one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league. He might throw interceptions like Jeff George but that's where the comparison ends, as Cutler has consistently shown the grit of Brett Favre. That includes yesterday, throwing for 281 yards and two touchdowns on a hamstring that was far less than 100 percent. Cutler was smart and agile in the pocket and didn't put the hamstring at further risk by scrambling. He completed 65 percent of his passes and finished with an 89.4 QB rating. He would get an "A" grade if it weren't for his prototypical back-foot interception to an open receiver in the red zone, but other than that, Cutler was outstanding, particularly on the game's final drive, when he moved the offense 48 yards on 12 plays to set up the game-winning field goal.

Running Back: B

Matt Forte had 91 rushing yards but could muster just 3.6 yards per carry. He added four catches for 64 yards and compiled just another ho-hum 155 yards from scrimmage. Even at 29 years old, Forte continues to be the engine that makes Chicago's offense go. No other back had more than two carries against the Raiders.

Wide Receiver: B+

Alshon Jeffery missed his third straight game but Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson had no trouble picking up the slack. Royal caught 7 of 10 targets for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Wilson hauled in 6 of 9 targets for 80 yards. Wilson's most impressive play came on the game-winning drive, corraling a tough ball on the sidelines, keeping his toes in bounds and then falling out of bounds to stop the clock. This unit would have received an "A" grade if it weren't for the second-quarter touchdown that went right through Josh Bellamy's hands.

Tight End: A-

Martellus Bennett was the diriving force in Chicago's passing attack, catching 11 of 13 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown. His score came on a red-zone play in which he cleared to the second level on a Raiders broken coverage, which left him wide open in the back corner of the end zone. Bennett's best catch came on 4th and 5 at Chicago's own 25-yard line with 1:30 left in the game. He ran a seven-yard out route and pulled in the reception despite a defender right in the passing lane. Bennett would have added another touchdown if Cutler had led him on an open seam route in the red zone, which resulted in a Charles Woodson interception. This grade would have been an "A+" if not for holding penalties on both Zach Miller and Khari Lee.

Offensive Line: C+

The offensive line gave up three sacks and failed to consistently open up holes in the run game - thus Forte's 3.6 per carry average. Yet it's hard to be too critical of a unit that came into the contest without starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod and lost starting center Will Montgomery on the third play of the game. Matt Slauson filled in admirably in place of Montgomery and Patrick Omameh was stout at left guard as well. RG Vladimir Ducasse had two more penalties, while Charles Leno picked up a holding penalty and allowed a sack, which is concerning. Yet for one day, this patchwork offensive line did what was necessary to help the Bears to victory.

Defense

Defensive Line: A

Chicago's front seven did an outstanding job against Oakland's rushing attack. Latavius Murray came into the game 4th in the NFL in rushing but was held to just 49 yards on the ground (3.1 ypc). Jarvis Jenkins led the way with four tackles and his team-leading third sack, as well as a tackle for loss. Eddie Goldman picked up his first career sack, which resulted in a 15-yard loss, and did a good job eating space as a two-gap nose, while Ego Ferguson and Mitch Unrein were solid against the run. The Bears had to rely on a four-man rotation with Jeremiah Ratliff out and Will Sutton banged up, yet those four all stepped up to the plate. It was a very impressive game from Chicago's down defenders. 

Outside Linebacker: B+

Pernell McPhee played 51 snaps and was extremely disruptive from multiple spots on the field. He was outstanding against the run, with four of his team-hight 8 tackles coming at or behind the line of scrimmage, and also picked his first career interception - in man coverage out wide against a running back, after which he carred three Raiders on his back for a 15-yard return. Sam Acho was solid on the other side in base 3-4 sets, picking up a QB hurry and a fumble recovery. Lamarr Houston was a force against the run and had a QB hurry. This OLB grade would be better if it weren't for Willie Young, who did nothing with his 18 snaps.

Inside Linebacker: C+

Shea McClellin and Christian Jones combined for 10 total tackles and three missed three tackles yesterday. Would you believe me if I told you those were their first missed tackles of the season? According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago's starting inside linebackers were flawless tacklers from Week 1-3. In addition, McClellin led the team with two QB hurries against the Raiders and has the second-most hurries (7) on the team. These two aren't Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman and they still have a long way to go, both as run stoppers and in coverage, but McClellin and Jones are definitely progressing at their new position.

Cornerback: B+

The Raiders came into the game with the seventh-ranked passing offense, while rookie Amari Cooper had the fourth most receiving yards in the NFL (290, 96.6 ypg). The Bears sat Alan Ball, who was dealing with a groin injury, and started Tracy Porter, who shadowed Cooper for most of the game. With Porter in coverage, Cooper caught just thee passes for 23 yards - Cooper's 26-yard TD came with Sherrick McManis in coverage. Porter finished with two tackles and a pass defended, and showed the potential to be the club's No. 1 corner going forward. Kyle Fuller had his second straight quality outing, finishing with four tackles and a pass defended. McManis allowed the touchdown to Cooper and failed to pick up a single tackle, which dropped this unit's grade from the "A" range.

Safety: B+

The Raiders completed just two passes of more than 20 yards, with their deepest completion at 26 yards. That's a testament to the team's safeties, who kept Oakland's downfield attack in front of them. It's even more impressive when you consider Harold Jones-Quartey played almost the entire second half after Antrel Rolle left with an ankle injury. Adrian Amos finished with five total tackles. The rookie looked very good in run support and was physical in the box.

Special Teams: B-

Robbie Gould had his first PAT attempt blocked and kicked his first kickoff out of bounds. Yet he was money for the rest of the game. He was 3 for 3 on field goal attempts, including a 54 yarder to start the fourth quarter and the 49-yard game winner. Credit also goes to Spencer Lanning, who not only averaged 45.3 yards per punt but also served as holder on all three of Gould's field goals. Signed less than 48 hours before kickoff, that's a pretty impressive performance from Lanning. The coverage and return teams weren't great but they didn't make any big mistakes, which is a step up from the last two weeks. Marc Mariani averaged 8.5 yards per punt return, which is solid.

Coaching Staff: A

John Fox: A

The Bears were coming off three losses to very good NFC teams, two of which will likely play in the NFC Championship game this year. Coming back home to face an emerging 2-1 Raiders team could have easily turned sour - and very likely would have under former head coach Marc Trestman. Yet the players played with intensity and Fox giving Cutler the go-ahead made all the difference on offense. It was an organized comeback that was executed flawlessly, resulting in the bounceback win, for which Fox deserves credit.

Adam Gase: A

Gase once again built a game plan around his player's strengths, or in Cutler's case, weaknesses. Gase used a heavy dose of short passes, picks plays and bubble screens to get the ball out of Cutler's hands quickly, thus keeping him out of harm's way. The Bears took their shots down the field and Gase stayed committed to the run, giving Forte 25 carries, in another well-thought-out game plan. Most impressive was his use of quick outs near the sidelines to move the sticks and stop the clock on the game-winning drive.

Vic Fangio: A

Fangio was facing a Raiders offense that was averaging 387 yards per game, with league leaders at the running back and receiver positions. Oakland's young offense is high-powered but you never would have guessed it on Sunday. Fangio's decision to place Porter on Cooper worked out brilliantly, while his front seven held the Raiders to just 70 total rushing yards. The Bears sacked David Carr twice, while McClellin was deployed effectively as a blitzer and McPhee was utilized all over the field. Fangio appears to be getting a grasp on this defense and how to best use his many parts.


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