"C" Students

The Bears aren't making the honor roll with this report card, but there is room for improvement.

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- QB Kyle Orton had one good game, one subpar game and one disaster. His 41.9 passer rating is last among NFL starters. WR Muhsin Muhammad has been a legitimate go-to guy, but no one else on the roster has provided a consistent complement. Muhammad has 16 receptions for 198 yards. The Bears' five other wideouts have a combined 12 catches for 146 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Thomas Jones is averaging 4.5 yards per carry (276 yards on 62 carries) despite the Bears' limited passing threat. Rookie Cedric Benson (59 yards on 19 carries) hasn't come close to showing that he should get Jones' job.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson gashed the secondary, but otherwise the Bears have been impressive, picking off six passes and ranking No. 5 in passing yards allowed. They have seven sacks, but only two have come from the linemen, which is a concern.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Bears were No. 7 in rushing yards and No. 4 in average gain per rush allowed after their first three games. Clinton Portis and the Redskins dented them for 164 yards (on 40 carries) in the season opener, but since then, the Bears have allowed 112 rushing yards on 52 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- Doug Brien has missed three of four attempts, although his kickoffs have been a bit stronger than expected. P Brad Maynard is off to another solid season.

COACHING: C -- Only time will tell if sticking with rookie Kyle Orton will pay dividends later in the season or put the Bears behind the 8-ball as they suffer growing pains during the learning process. The Bears have wisely not forced first-round RB Cedric Benson into the game plan while Thomas Jones is playing well. They also have stuck with playmaker Nathan Vasher at cornerback rather than automatically giving the job back to Jerry Azumah. Rookie WR Mark Bradley will be given an opportunity to make plays that veteran Justin Gage wasn't making as the starter opposite Muhsin Muhammad.


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