Quarterly Report Card

The Bears highest grade came in the running game, but what area received the lowest mark?

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Rex Grossman played the best game of his pro career in Game 3 but then suffered a season-ending knee injury at the end of it. Replacement Jonathan Quinn was shaky at best in his first game filling in. WR David Terrell is finally starting to play like a first-round pick, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain that level of play. For the offense to function successfully, TE Desmond Clark needs to make a bigger contribution, although RB Thomas Jones has been excellent as a receiver.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Thomas Jones has been outstanding, getting quickly through holes when they're there and creating on his own when it appears nothing is available. Jones has played so well, except for the Week 4 loss to the Eagles, that backup Anthony Thomas has hardly played at all, and his role seems to be strictly to give Jones an occasional rest.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- The pass rush is better, but that's not saying much since it was the NFL's worst last season. Without Jerry Azumah the first four games and with Charles Tillman going down for 7-10 weeks in Game 2, the Bears have been without their two best corners and have struggled to contain Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- Twice in four games the Bears have allowed more than 150 yards on the ground, and the loss of MLB Brian Urlacher for two games hurt. Youngsters have had to play key roles on the D-line and have shown promise, but they might struggle for a while before they mature.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- PK Paul Edinger has hit just 4 of 7 FG attempts, with misses from 45, 39 and 27 (blocked). His longest field goal is from 34 yards. P Brad Maynard has been outstanding. The return game has been average, but rookie Bernard Berrian is improving on kickoff returns. Coverage has been OK.

COACHING: C -- The offense was improving with Rex Grossman running the show and Thomas Jones providing a strong ground threat, but that progress might be slowed with Jonathan Quinn working off several years of rust. Still, Terry Shea's play-calling is noticeably more creative than John Shoop's was last season. The defense is capable of being a strength, but injuries have hindered continuity although Ron Rivera has figured out how to get more pass-rush pressure.


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