Making the Grade

The Bears improved to 2-0 on the exhibition season, but it wasn't a perfect effort by any stretch of the imagination.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Rex Grossman (8-16-44) was not very sharp with his touch on the ball, but didn't turn it over, and used his mobility to buy himself time while the 49ers blitzed frequently. His receivers didn't help him much with Lyman and Wade dropping passes. Jonathan Quinn (8-12-74) had a shaky beginning as well. He hadn't practiced much lately with a sore non-throwing shoulder. Quinn tripped on his first snap from center and fell on a fumble. He then came close to getting intercepted along the right sideline on a rollout. He settled down from there, and played well the rest of the way. In fact, he nearly had a nice touchdown pass to Gabe Reid in the end zone but Reid couldn't get his second foot in bounds. Craig Krenzel (0-5-0) finished the game and struggled to complete a pass. GRADE: C-

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (6/32, 1-8) had another impressive showing. He took a handoff over left guard, found the hole wasn't there and cut outside right end for a gain of 19. Adrian Peterson (7/54, 2-4, TD) received second team reps and was strong for the second game in a row. Peterson broke off a 15-yard run and a 17-yard run in addition to a short touchdown from the 3-yard line. He's also doing well in pass protection. Brock Forsey (9/22, 1-4, TD) was the third halfback, and had a tougher time running the ball, but looked good receiving it. He made two defenders miss in the right flat on a reception that helped set up his 2-yard touchdown run. Bryan Johnson was solid at fullback, and Jason McKie (2/13, 1-15) steamrolled a 49ers defender on a short reception. The running backs played very well. GRADE: B+

Receivers

Marty Booker was held out of the game because of a trade pending between the Bears and Miami for Adewale Ogunleye. There was plenty of rotation again with this group. Early on, drops by Lyman and Wade proved costly. Terrell and Lyman made receptions in the seam for mid-range yardage. Lyman had a good day blocking in the running game. Wade, Gage and Berrian all made receptions as well. Gabe Reid couldn't keep both feet in bounds on a sure touchdown grab. He made a nice catch later, but then nearly fumbled it away when he hit the turf. The receivers had a couple of drops, but nothing of epidemic proportions. Overall, it wasn't a very exciting performance (nobody had more than 2 receptions), but they got the job done. GRADE: C

Offensive Line

The line had an excellent bounce back game. Penalties were at a minimum, as well as errors. San Francisco blitzed early and often, challenging the Bears' line. That's a good thing, because the lineup starting the game is likely to be the starting line at the beginning of the regular season. Ruben Brown pulled from left guard to lead up the hole at right tackle to lead the way for Adrian Peterson's big touchdown, a carbon copy of the 17-yard play that preceded it. Mike Gandy had a competent game at right guard, and combined with Kreutz to make excellent down blocks on Peterson's runs. Qasim Mitchell had a better game. He and Brown each had a minor breakdown in pass protection, but neither was costly. The backup line played extremely well. Left to right from tackle to tackle it was Rob Droege, Josh Warner, Michael Keathley, Steve Edwards and Aaron Gibson. Edwards looked more at home at guard. Warner pulled well as the guard and led the way for Forsey's touchdown run. Droege made a good block on one of Peterson's better runs, but also lost his man on the lone sack. The play of this group was the most encouraging thing about the win (especially since news of the Ogunleye for Booker trade reached official status before the game was over). GRADE: A-


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Michael Haynes (3 tackles) looked much more comfortable at right end. He had a knockdown of the quarterback on a near interception, played the run well, and his constant pressure forced an incompletion on a 3rd down play. Alfonso Boone and Bryan Robinson were a little better than in previous showings. Boone and Robinson held up against the run well, especially on a 3rd and 1 that Boone stood up. Tank Johnson and Tommie Harris both played reasonably well. Both got off the ball well. Harris did have some trouble staying onsides. Johnson made an excellent tackle for loss late in the game. Israel Idonije played less like a dream come true and a little more like a pipe dream today, but Claude Harriott made his presence felt with a big interception. Too bad the quarterback tackled him. Free agent acquisition Quinn Dorsey saw extensive action and flashed his great first step. He picked up a sack. It's kind of odd that his name is a combination of the last names of two of the quarterbacks in this contest (Jonathan Quinn and Ken Dorsey). Joe Tafoya saw a lot of action, and although he didn't show up with any tackles, he drew his opposing offensive lineman offsides twice. Only one sack isn't good against 51 passing attempts, but the pressure was there all night, and starter Kevan Barlow was only good for 19 yards on 6 carries. Hang a special star on the line for the interception by Harriott. GRADE: C+

Linebackers

Hunter Hillenmeyer (5 tackles) started in the middle again and had a quieter game than last week, but played reasonably well overall. Lance Briggs (3 tackles, 1 PD) had a stronger presence than last week. He just missed an interception. The play that stood out for him was a double blitz over the offense's right side. He demolished the running back trying to block him, forcing pressure and also allowing Gray to blitz behind him to cause pressure as well. Marcus Reese started on the other side and left early with a pulled hamstring. Joe Odom (2 tackles) took over, and played competently, although devoid of any big plays. Leon Joe (4 tackles) looked good among the backups, with a tackle for loss and a knockdown of the quarterback on a blitz. Bryan Knight (4 tackles) had a solid game at the end as well. GRADE: B

Secondary

R.W. McQuarters (4 tackles, PD) started and had an up and down game. He made a key play to deflect a pass on a 3rd down and diffused a screen play. He did get beaten right off the line for a 30-yard pass to Wilson. Charles Tillman (5 tackles, PD) did not have a strong game, either. He dropped his head and didn't wrap up on one play, and then allowed a touchdown on a pass that he had position on but didn't play the ball. Mike Brown was in the right place at the right time. He intercepted the first pass thrown by Dorsey. He later scooped up the fumble that Bobby Gray forced. Gray dropped his head on the play and took a helmet to his shoulder, and had to leave the game. Mike Green (5 tackles) had an active game. He made a number of key open field tackles over the middle. Nathan Vasher (6 tackles, 2 PD, Int.) had a strong game. He had an interception, winning a battle for the football. Vasher also made a key pass deflection late in the game to seal the victory. On a funny note, Vasher was flagged for running off the field to the wrong side (illegal substitution) after his interception. He must have been pretty excited. McMillon, Johnson, Worrell, Ballard and Kelly all played and made contributions. This group had a few coverage breakdowns, but the turnovers they produced more than outweighed any other shortcomings. GRADE: A-


SPECIAL TEAMS

Bernard Berrian still does not look comfortable returning kickoffs. He ran into his lead blocker (Abdullah) on successive kicks. His best return actually was on a punt for 12 yards. Ahmad Merritt picked up 34 yards on a kickoff return. Edinger's kickoffs were a bit short, but he hit both of his field goal attempts (35, 46). Remy Hamilton had a couple of good kickoffs, but missed a 38-yard field goal. Brad Maynard's punts were a bit short, but he did get 3 out of 4 of them down inside the 20. Brooks Barnard kicked very well on his 3 attempts. Bryan Johnson recovered a mishandled punt when Merritt was blocked into the return man. Coverage was good, returns were below average. GRADE: C


COACHING

Shea's offense showed more of the swing pass to the backs, and it worked pretty well. Additionally, the running schemes looked very good. Team discipline was pretty strong, especially since there were so many penalties the week before. On defense, Rivera showed some interesting blitz wrinkles, especially notable was sending both Briggs and Gray through the same gap. Although the starters on both sides of the ball played a bit longer, the depth players saw a lot of action so that coaches can make good evaluations for roster decisions. It was a bit questionable to see what looked like a two-minute drill at the end of the first half, only to see the time outs not used after the first play that stayed in bounds. That said, it's hard to argue with results. Lovie Smith's Bears are 2-0 in the preseason. GRADE: B


GAME BALLS

Adrian Peterson Mike Brown Lance Briggs Nathan Vasher

HORNS

Bernard Berrian

HARDEST HITS

Gray on Jackson Worrell on Fleck



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