Raw Numbers: 78.9 yards per game (31st), 3.2 yards per carry (T-31st), 2 touchdowns (T-27th), 5 fumbles lost (32nd), long rush of 16 yards (32nd)
The Skinny: If you simply look at the statistics above, it's safe to say that the Bears running game has enjoyed precious few highlights so far this season. Three-time leading rushing Thomas Jones was traded to the New York Jets in the offseason to make room for former No. 4-overall draft pick Cedric Benson at the top of the depth chart, but Jones is missed and Benson has been a colossal disappointment on every level. Benson has complained that he's not being given enough opportunities and the team has been forced to throw a lot in the second half of games because they've been behind, but the fact of the matter is that Benson ranks third in the NFL in carries behind Pittsburgh's Willie Parker and Arizona's Edgerrin James but only ranks tied for 16th in rushing yards – Jones is eighth, by the way, on an equally atrocious football team in the Big Apple.
RB Cedric Benson
Rex Arbogast/AP Images
Thumbs Up: Although it appears that he'll never be given a chance to be a featured back in this league, second-stringer Adrian Peterson has proven to be a valuable player on offense in addition to his wonderful work on special teams. Peterson is averaging 4.5 yards on his 28 carries so far this season, plus he's caught 24 passes out of the backfield and developed into a capable third-down back. While many Bears fans would like to see the sixth-year pro get more time on offense, he's simply too valuable on the coverage units at this point.
Thumbs Down: While the offensive line has been worse than expected and the aerial attack is inconsistent at times, Benson is running out of excuses quite frankly and starting to be associated with the dubious term "bust" more and more often. Benson had to fight for every carry last season as the second option behind Jones and was arguably the better back down the stretch, but it's possible that he just feels overly secure with his starting role and doesn't have much motivation to perform anymore. He's put the ball on the ground frequently, keeps dropping passes as a receiver, and looks utterly disinterested on the sideline between series.
MIDSEASON GRADE: Head coach Lovie Smith still maintains that this team comes off the bus running the football, but the production has been abysmal and the commitment to the run has to be questioned ... D-minus
Raw Numbers: 238.9 yards per game (13th), 58.4 completion percentage (26th), 10 touchdowns (T-13th), 16 interceptions (T-32nd), 21 sacks allowed (26th)
The Skinny: Rex Grossman was given every possible opportunity to prove that he is a franchise quarterback and deserving of a Tony Romo-like contract extension, but he fell on his face and was benched in favor of Brian Griese by Week 4. While Griese has certainly helped put points on the board and engineered that memorable game-winning two-minute drill in Philadelphia two Sundays ago, he's thrown just as many interceptions (10) as touchdown passes and has been a big reason why the Bears are dead last in the league in turnover ratio (-10). The Bears were supposed to have one of the most improved passing games in all of football with a maturing quarterback and a wealth of new weapons surrounding him, however, Grossman is currently holding a clipboard and Griese hasn't made enough of a difference in terms of wins and losses – much of the increased production he's provided has been out of necessity with the team trailing late in ballgames.
TE Greg Olsen
James A. Findley/AP Images
Thumbs Up: Veteran tight end Desmond Clark enjoyed the best season of his career in 2006 and is following that performance up with an equally impressive 2007. Additionally, first-round draft pick Greg Olsen has been better than advertised as a rookie and is becoming a bigger part of the game plan with each passing week. The Bears now have arguably the best one-two punch at the tight end position in all of football, as the two have combined for 49 receptions, 577 yards, and 4 touchdowns thus far.
Thumbs Down: Bernard Berrian had a breakout season a year ago and appeared to be on the verge of becoming an elite receiver in the NFL this season. While he does lead the team with 38 catches and 518 receiving yards, he's only scored one touchdown, is mysteriously dropping passes at an alarming rate, and doesn't seem up to the task of being a true primary target. Berrian hired Drew Rosenhaus to be his agent and reportedly wants $8 million per year once his contract expires at the end of 2007, but that's a lot of money for a wideout who's yet to register a 1,000-yard season and has had trouble staying healthy.
MIDSEASON GRADE: Griese has been better than Grossman, no question about it, but not enough to get this team back into playoff contention ... C-plus
John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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