Bears Week 14 Positional Game Grades

We grade and evaluate in detail each Chicago Bears positional group following Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Offense

Quarterback: A-

Jay Cutler was coming off a three-game span in which he threw just one touchdown. Yet against the Redskins' 10th-ranked pass defense, he completed 19 of 31 passes for 315 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. He had his third highest passing yardage of the season, while his 117.0 QB rating was his second best of the campaign. It was the fifth game in which Cutler had zero interceptions, although he did lose a fumble. The Bears were 3 for 3 in the red zone, with Cutler throwing two of those scores. Overall, this was one of Cutler's most efficient games of the year and the 24-21 loss had nothing to do with his performance. 

Running Back: B-

Matt Forte (28 snaps) and Jeremy Langford (31) split the backfield reps almost down the middle. Langford had more carries (11 to 10), total yards (64 to 53) and targets (7 to 2). As a duo, they combined for 4.0 yards per rush, with Forte getting the goal-line touchdown. Neither player was extremely effective, with a combined long touch of 11 yards. What's notable is that Langford was a bigger part of the offense, something we'll probably see more of as the season winds down, as the Bears want to prepare Langford for workhorse duty next season. 

Wide Receiver: C+

As usual, Alshon Jeffery was a beast and the rest of the receivers did very little. Jeffery finished with team highs in targets (9), catches (6) and receiving yardage (107). He also scored his third touchdown of the season. Sunday was Jeffery's fourth game of the year with 100 or more receiving yards. Eddie Royal returned to action after a six-week layoff and caught just one pass for 15 yards. Marc Mariani had two catches for 37 yards, while Deonte Thompson had a big 36-yard grab. 

Tight End: A-

After months of disappointing production from Martellus Bennett, who was placed on IR last week, Zach Miller stepped into the starting tight-end role and shined. Miller caught 5 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. It was his team-leading fifth score of the season. Miller is not the best in-line blocker but as a pass catcher, he can be a major weapon for the Bears going forward. He was a matchup problem for the Redskins all day and, if he stays healthy, Miller can be play a large role for Chicago's offense in the future. 

Offensive Line: C-

The offensive line tied a season high by giving up three sacks against Washington. RT Kyle Long gave up two of those sacks - one of which nearly resulted in Cutler's head being ripped off - while he also had a false start. It was, by far, Long's worst game of the season. The front five had two holding calls and two false starts, penalties that continually stalled drives. The Bears now have the most holding penalties in the NFL. LT Charles Leno allowed a whopping 7 QB hurries. Patrick Omameh did his best matador imitation in allowing Redskins NT Terrance Knighton a free run at the quarterback. This was a disappointing outing from a unit that is supposed to be developing cohesiveness in Week 14 of the season. 

Defense

Defensive Line: B+

The Bears held the Redskins to under 100 yards rushing and just 3.0 yards per carry, which a testament to the strong play of the down linemen. Eddie Goldman was his typical inconsistent self but he did have a number of splash plays and racked up 2 QB hurries. The same goes for Jarvis Jenkins, who had 2 QB hits. Jenkins has shown ridiculous strength and power the past month. Yet the best performer was Mitch Unrein, who had 4 combined tackles, one for loss, and the first sack of his career. Chicago's defensive line is a relatively young group with some solid role players. Goldman is the future, while both Jenkins and Unrein deserved to be re-signed this upcoming offseason. And when Ego Ferguson returns, this front-line group could develop into the strength of the defense. 

Outside Linebacker: A

Even without Pernell McPhee, who sat out because of a knee injury, Bears outside linebackers showed up in a big way on Sunday. Lamarr Houston led the defense with 9 total tackles and 2 QB hits, picked up his team-leading 6th sack of the year, while Willie Young had a sack in his fourth straight contest. There was a point earlier in the season when many were calling for Houston and Young to be traded. Yet, since becoming healthy, both players have dominated off the edge. With McPhee's dominance in addition to Young and Houston rounding into form, the Bears have a potentially dangerous trio of edge rushers going forward. Sam Acho was on the field for 32 snaps but had no QB pressures and just three total sacks. 

Inside Linebacker: C-

Shea McClellin played all 70 snaps against the Redskins and finished with 7 total tackles, yet none of them came behind the line of scrimmage. The problem with McClellin, as well as Christian Jones, is that neither player can correctly attack a gap against the run. On the majority of Washington's runs, the duo sat and waited for the ball carriers, which has been a problematic trend throughout the year. Jones played 39 snaps and accumulated 6 total tackles but, like McClellin, none came behind the line of scrimmage. Even worse, none of the inside linebackers had a chance against Washington tight end Jordan Reed, who finished with 9 catches for 120 yards and 1 TD. On his touchdown score, both McClellin and Jonathan Anderson, who played 21 snaps on passing downs, were double covering Reed, who slipped easily into the end zone untouched for the score. 

Cornerback: B-

Kyle Fuller had his second interception of the season on a poorly thrown pass from Kirk Cousins, yet Fuller struggled in run support and missed a pair of tackles. Tracy Porter finished with five tackles but did little else. Combined, Porter and Fuller were thrown at 10 times, allowing 8 receptions for 118 yards. Sherrick McManis started at nickelback in place of the injured Bryce Callahan and gave up 2 receptions for 32 yards. It was, by far, McManis' best game on defense this season. Alan Ball played five snaps in dime sets and did a decent job of shadowing Jordan Reed late in the game. 

Safety: C+

After the linebackers failed, the Bears deployed Adrian Amos to cover Reed. Yet the results were no different, as Amos allowed a reception all three times he was thrown at on Sunday. Amos was solid in run support as usual but it's clear the rookie has plenty of room to grow in coverage. Chris Prosinski played but you probably didn't notice, as he didn't do a thing in this game. For a safety, that's not always a bad thing, but to play 66 snaps with just two tackles and nothing else, that's a player who had a very limited impact in the game. 

Coaching Staff

John Fox: D

The Bears have now lost two straight contests at home against teams with losing records. The blame for that falls on John Fox, whose team has wilted in what should have been their playoff push. The Bears were 4-5 following a Week 10 victory over the Rams and were squarely in the postseason hunt. Since then, they've lost three of four, with all three losses coming at Soldier Field. The Bears will now miss the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. The futility of this season, particularly in some very winnable games, starts at the top with Fox, whose players have mailed it in the past month. 

Adam Gase: D

The Bears lost the time of possession battle by nearly 9 minutes yesterday. Much of that has to do with the offensive playcalling, which featured just 21 called runs, the lowest of the season. Coordinator Adam Gase was predictable as usual on first down, consistently running the ball between the tackles, and that led to a number of tough 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations. Also, Gase just cannot figure out a way to get his other receivers involved in the passing game. Over the last two weeks, it seems as if the only plan is for Cutler to close his eyes and launch the ball to Jeffery. Finally, with Cutler running for his life most of the game, Gase failed to adjust his blocking schemes. This was Gase's worst game of the year. 

Vic Fangio: C+

The Bears have allowed a touchdown on the opponent's opening drive in four of the last five contests. That's on coordinator Vic Fangio, whose defense continues to play listlessly in the first quarter. To start the game, the Redskins put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive that took 8:30 off the clock. That immediately wore down the defense, while the offense got cold waiting on the sidelines for more than 15 minutes of real time. The Bears also struggled mightily to contain Reed, who was able to beat every coverage Fangio threw his way, while Cousins scored on a read option, which is unacceptable.


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