This was arguably Jay Cutler's worst game of the season. He completed 18 of 32 passes for 265 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT and 1 lost fumble. His two total turnovers match his season high and he threw two more passes that could have easily been intercepted. Cutler once again struggled in the red zone, with the offense converting just one of four opportunities inside Denver's 20-yard line. In addition, on the final two-point-conversion attempt, Cutler checked into a run play but failed to communicate the audible to the receivers, resulting in a free run for Broncos S T.J. Ward, who stuffed the play at the line of scrimmage.
Running Back: C+
Jeremy Langford could not get anything going between the tackles and finished the game with 13 carries for just 25 yards (1.9 ypc). He didn't have much of an impact in the passing game either, catching just 3 passes for 17 yards. Overall, Langford did not demonstrate the phone-booth elusiveness and power necessary to grind yards on the ground against a stout Broncos front seven, although the lack of stretch runs and pitch plays was surprising. Ka'Deem Carey showed good burst and power, particularly between the tackles, carrying 9 times for 32 yards. Unfortunately, Carey left the game in the third quarter after suffering a concussion. Right now feels like a good time for Matt Forte to return, no?
Wide Receiver: B-
Without Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, third-year wideout Marquess Wilson filled the void at receiver, catching four balls for 102 yards, including a 40-yard reception on the game's final drive that put the Bears on the doorstep of the end zone. Josh Bellamy was decent in a supporting role, catching 4 passes for 57 yards, while Marc Mariani and Cameron Meredith had just one catch apiece. Right now feels like a good time for Jeffery and Royal to return, no?
Tight End: D+
Martellus Bennett continues his disappointing campaign. With few other receiving options, Bennett failed to have any impact in the passing game, catching just 2 passes on 6 targets for 27 yards. He dropped a crucial deep ball late in the game and was 0-4 on contested passes. In addition, he showed a lack of effort as a blocker and played a large role in the struggles of the run game. Zach Miller had another quality outing, chipping in 3 catches for 47 yards. Miller has become a far more reliable target at tight end than Bennett.
Offensive Line: D+
RT Kyle Long had a very tough assignment against Von Miller and he gave up a whopping seven hurries for the game. Yet Long did not allow a sack, which is definitely a win. Unfortunately, LT Charles Leno was not as successful against Miller, who beat Leno for a strip sack in the fourth quarter, squashing a potential game-tying drive. Patrick Omameh, who took over for Vladimir Ducasse at right guard, also gave up a sack after being beat badly by DE Derek Wolfe on a swim move, Overall, though, Omameh was a step up from Ducasse. C Hroniss Grasu returned to the starting lineup, allowed three QB hurries and could get absolutely no push in the run game. LG Matt Slauson also struggled mightily as a run blocker, which played a large role in Chicago's 3.6 yards per carry.
Defensive Line: C-
The positives: Bruce Gaston and Eddie Goldman picking up a sack each. Gaston's sack was extremely impressive, as he flat out ran over his offensive lineman before taking down Broncos QB Brock Osweiler. The negatives: The Bears gave up 170 yards on the ground to a Denver offense that has struggled to move the ball all season. Ronnie Hillman ran for 102 yards on 21 carries, after compiling just 103 rushing yards in his last three games combined. Both Hillman and C.J. Anderson averaged nearly 5.0 yards per carry (4.9). That doesn't all fall on the defensive line but starters Goldman and Will Sutton were consistently pushed backward by Denver's interior blockers. Jarvis Jenkins and Mitch Unrein had a few splash plays but overall, Chicago's down linemen lost the battle in the trenches yesterday.
Outside Linebacker: B-
Pernell McPhee had three QB hurries before leaving the game due to a sore knee. On a knee that was less than 100 percent, McPhee had a limited impact on the game, but he definitely didn't hurt the team. Willie Young and Lamarr Houston both played fairly well, combing for five QB hurries, while Young picked up his second sack of the season. Houston was stout against the run, although the same can't be said for Sam Acho, who could not consistently set the edge and struggled covering the underneath zones.
Inside Linebacker: C
Shea McClellin played all 71 snaps on defense. He lacked aggressiveness and power at the point of attack, with most of his six combined tackles coming five yards past the line of scrimmage. McClellin was very disruptive as a pass rusher, picking up three QB hurries and one QB hit blitzing from multiple positions on the field. Christian Jones (44 snaps) rotated with Jonathan Anderson (24), with Anderson used primarily in nickel sets. Jones led the team with 8 total tackles, showing discipline and strength in his run fits. Anderson had minimal impact on the game, finishing with just three total tackles. On Demaryius Thomas' 48-yard TD, both of the inside linebackers bit hard on the play fake, which left the reciever wide open on the crossing route.
After three strong weeks of improved play, Kyle Fuller regressed against the Broncos. He allowed three receptions on six targets, including the game-winning touchdown to Cody Latimer. Fuller finished with seven total tackles and 1 PBU. Osweiler had a 120.1 QB rating when throwing at Fuller. Conversely, Tracy Porter was lights out. He was targeted three times and did not give up a single completion. Nickelback Bryce Callahan left the game briefly with what appeared to be a shoulder injury but returned to action, playing 24 snaps out of the slot. He was targeted just once, giving up a 16-yard completion.
Antrel Rolle could not play due to a hamstring injury, so the Bears inserted Chris Prosinski in the starting lineup. On Denver's first drive, Prosinksi was sealed on the edge, resulting in a 15-yard by Hillman. On the next play, Prosinskin missed an open-field tackle, resulting in a 48-yard TD for Demaryius Thomas. Prosinski settled in after that and showed well in run support, as did Adrian Amos, who continues to add layers of toughness to this defense. Unfortunately, Amos was eaten up in coverage, allowing four catches on four targets.
John Fox: D
Down eight points with more than 10 minutes left in the game, the Bears had 4th and goal at the 4-yard line. Instead of kicking a field goal and cutting the lead to five points, head coach John Fox chose to go for it. The attempt failed and the Bears lost by two points. Fox said after the game that Denver's defense, which had stymied Chicago's offense up to that point, was the reason he chose not to take the easy three points.
"You’re going against a pretty stingy defense," Fox said. "They scored 17 points and we scored 15 points – that’s not a really high scoring game in our business. We knew it would be tough, so we had to take advantage of getting points when we had the opportunity.”
Fox is right, to that point in the game, Chicago's offense had mustered just three field goals. Yet Fox failed to take into consideration how good Cutler has been in the fourth quarter this year. Coming into the game, he had a 90.7 4th-quarter QB rating, with 5 TDs compared to just 2 INTs. Three of the Bears' four wins this year have been due to a fourth-quarter game-winning drives Cutler engineered.
The offense subsequently drove the ball into Denver territory on their next two possessions but were forced to go for two points following their final score, due to the three points flushed down the toilet earlier in the quarter.
Adam Gase: D
Give offensive coordinator Adam Gase credit, he tried to run the ball against the Broncos. The ground game just could not find it's rhythm, yet Gase kept calling between-the-tackles runs on first down throughout the game. That continually put Chicago's offense behind the 8-ball. Additionally, Gase deserves as much blame as anyone for the team's red zone woes. His inability to dial up scoring plays near the goal line is killing the Bears right now. If they were better in the red zone, this team might be 7-3.
Vic Fangio: C
For the third straight week, Chicago's defense allowed a touchdown on the opponent's opening drive. This has put the Bears in a bind each of the past three games, and that's on defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who obviously has not had his players prepared at the opening whistle. The Bears adjusted and gave up just 10 points the rest of the game but their slow start put a lot of pressure on a injury-depleted offense. Also, allowing a struggling Broncos run game to churn out 170 rushing yards was arguably the main reason the Bears lost that game.