Bears vs. Rams: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Chicago
The Chicago Bears had a chance to recapture sole possession of first place in the NFC North, but their defense couldn't stop the St. Louis Rams and their offense couldn't keep up in what turned out to be a blowout loss, 42-21.
The Bears had a chance to take control of the game late. They were down by six with about seven minutes left, but their defense allowed the Rams to go 80 yards in just seven plays to score what was essentially the game-clinching touchdown.
The Bears were significantly outplayed and outcoached for most of the game as they fell in a 14-0 hole and were never able to climb out of it.
While Chicago was short-handed along the defensive line, there's no excuse for giving up 258 yards rushing. The Rams also had plenty of injuries. They were without starting running back Zac Stacy for the second half, and they had their backup quarterback for the entire game, yet they totaled over 400 yards of total offense.
The Bears offense was very productive in terms of yardage, but it didn't finish drives. Chicago racked up 424 yards and had a 13-minute advantage in time of possession, yet scored just 21 points.
The Bears turned it over three times, one set St. Louis up inside the Bears' 10-yard line and another was returned for a touchdown. They had another drive that went down to the Rams' 1-yard line, but Marc Trestman elected to give the ball to rarely used, unproductive Michael Bush. He was stopped for a loss.
The Bears also had three touchdowns called back due to penalties, including a punt return by Devin Hester.
When it comes to grading the Bears roster, the harshest grades came on defense, but their offense also wasn't nearly good enough. Against a team that gave up an average of 23.4 points per game, the Bears managed just 21.
As usual, the grades are done on a bell scale with the competition considered. The Rams have a very good defensive line and subpar secondary, so the Bears grades reflect that, to an extent.
That said, it's hard to grade anyone very well when a team loses by 21 points. The Bears have a lot of work to do, and these grades reflect that.
Once again, McCown was solid, although maybe not as good as his statistics suggest.
He finished with 352 yards and two touchdowns, completing 36 of 47 attempts for a passer rating of 102.4.
The Bears lost any chance of a miracle comeback late when he lost a fumble and it was returned for a touchdown. Then, on their next drive, he was intercepted. He threw an early interception, but that was called back due to an illegal contact penalty.
He did a great job evading the strong pass rush that was in his face for most of the game as he was sacked only once.
As he's done since he took over for Jay Cutler, McCown did a great job of getting the ball out of his hands and into the hands of his playmakers.
Overall, it was a very good game for McCown. He continued to show that he's a terrific backup quarterback, and he certainly did his job on this day.
The Bears needed spectacular play from their quarterback to have a shot in this one, however. He just wasn't capable of that that, nor should they expect him to be.
Matt Forte, Michael Bush, Tony Fiammetta
Outside of his first play, Forte had a very good day. That first play, however, was a huge mistake.
On the Bears' first play from scrimmage, Forte coughed the ball up and gave the Rams a first down inside Chicago's 10-yard line. A few plays later, the Rams scored to make it 14-0.
After that, Forte was very good. He finished with 77 rushing yards, 4.8 per carry and added 40 receiving yards. He had a touchdown off of a screen pass, but it was reviewed and determined he was down at the 1-yard line.
Fiammetta did a solid job as a lead blocker for Forte and picked up 17 yards on a screen pass, to go with another six-yard reception.
This grade is brought down by Bush, who appears to be allergic to the line of scrimmage.
Bush had a touchdown but finished with negative-five yards on seven carries. The offensive line certainly deserves part of the blame for that, but running backs are supposed to be able to break tackles and occasionally make plays without great blocking. He doesn't do that.
At this point, it's worth questioning why they even have Bush on the roster. He doesn't play special teams and gives their offense nothing. There are a lot of good, young running backs who could be taking up his roster spot.
Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett
The Bears receivers—especially Marshall—were productive, but they should be against the Rams secondary.
The Rams put their top cornerback—Cortland Finnegan—on injured reserve before the game and lost another starter, Trumaine Johnson, during the game.
Marshall finished with 10 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came off of a great route in which he fooled the defensive back and got wide open.
Bennett had his most productive game of the season, catching all eight of the passes thrown his way. He still wasn't able to make big plays despite the favorable matchups, finishing with just 58 yards. He had fewer yards per catch than Rams running back Benny Cunningham had per carry.
Jeffery had a few nice plays, but probably not what one would expect against a subpar secondary. He finished with four catches for 42 yards and had a long run on a reverse called back due to a penalty.
There's no denying the production of this group for the Bears, but that's what should be expected against that caliber of secondary.
Still, they didn't do anything to be downgraded. They did their jobs well and won their matchups for the most part.
Martellus Bennett, Dante Rosario, Eben Britton
In terms of yardage, Bennett had his most productive day since Week 6 against the Giants. He caught four passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, including a 37-yard catch on the team's second touchdown drive. He also had a touchdown nullified due to a holding call on Jermon Bushrod.
At first glance, it also appeared Bennett did a solid job as a blocker, helping open holes for Matt Forte.
Britton again served his purpose as the team's blocking tight end when he was called upon, and Rosario didn't have an impact on the game.
The Rams linebackers are athletic and solid in pass coverage as two of the three graded positively in that area on Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Yet, Bennett showed the ability to get open and made some big plays.
Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills
Considering who they were going against, this group was adequate.
Bushrod got beat for what proved to be the game-clinching play late, but that was the only sack they gave up. They gave up other hurries, and ESPN credited the Rams with hitting quarterback Josh McCown five times.
They also opened holes for Forte, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Although their run-blocking was inconsistent, 56 of Forte's yards came on three runs—gains of 26, 11 and 19 yards—on the team's second drive.
They were dominated at the at the goal line a couple of times. They were pushed back on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line and had another drive stopped inside the five, but multiple penalties on the Rams kept them alive.
Bushrod was also responsible for a touchdown being called back due to a holding penalty, and Long was called for a personal foul. Long attempted to kick a Rams player, but appeared to miss. Had he connected, he could have been facing a suspension.
There's no question the Rams won the battle at the line of scrimmage, but that should've been expected. The Bears line didn't get dominated, but it certainly didn't win its matchup.
Julius Peppers, Landon Cohen, Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin, David Bass, Cheta Ozougwu, Christian Tupou
The expectations for this group weren't really very high, but they still managed to fall well short of them.
The Bears run defense continues to get worse as it sunk to an embarrassing level, giving up 258 yards with an average of 8.9 per carry.
Injuries are the common excuse, but the Rams had them too. They entered this game without a starting guard—arguably their best lineman in Harvey Dahl—and stud running back Zac Stacy didn't play in the second half.
Yet the Bears were still completely dominated in every possible way.
On the Rams' first drive the Bears allowed Stacy to pick up 16 yards on two carries then Tavon Austin went 65 yards for a touchdown due in large part to McClellin's terrible pursuit.
It's confusing as to why McClellin was even given the start. He's missed the past two games, and although he was good against the Packers, he still struggled against the run. In general, he's a terrible run defender as he came into the game with a grade of negative-11.1 from Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
In a game that the Bears had to stop the run to win, why was he in the starting lineup? They would've been better off starting Wootton with Cohen and Tupou playing inside on early downs. Neither Bass nor Ozougwu could possibly be as bad as McClellin is against the run.
Maybe it wouldn't have mattered since every player on the line was dominated, but the Bears didn't give themselves much of a chance with the lineup they threw out there.
Bass managed to get a sack, which would've been a big play had the Bears not given up 19 yards on the very next play.
In addition to getting dominated in the ground game, this group was also at least partially responsible for allowing Kellen Clemens of all people to average 16.7 yards per completion.
Injuries are a common excuse, but that's not what this kind of domination was about. This was about heart. When the Bears needed their defensive line to hold up—or at least not get completely dominated—they got destroyed.
Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, James Anderson
It isn't just the defensive linemen who should get blamed for that kind of rushing yardage.
On Tavon Austin's long touchdown run, all three Bears linebackers crashed hard and nobody filled the huge gap that Austin sprinted through.
In his most extensive playing time of the season, Greene led the Bears with six tackles, one more than Bostic, while Anderson had three and a sack.
There were certainly some plays in which the Bears linebackers didn't have a chance due to the play up front, but they didn't help themselves much either. Linebackers also have a responsibility to beat blocks.
They're also at least partially responsible for tight end Jared Cook catching four passes for 80 yards. Cook's touchdown catch came right in the middle of the field after he beat Bostic.
They failed to fill gaps all game in what may have been the worst performance by a group of Bears linebackers in over a decade.
Tim Jennings, Zackary Bowman, Isaiah Frey, Chris Conte, Major Wright
When a team allows over 250 rushing yards, even the members of the secondary deserve a large chunk of the blame.
For the most part, the Bears were playing eight men in the box, which means Conte and Wright were essentially fourth linebackers.
The duo had put together a couple of solid games, but they were back to their terrible selves in this game. They were out of position and seemed to take bad angles on every big play the Rams had.
Their cornerbacks were all right in pass coverage, although Bowman did allow 19 yards on 2nd-and-19 after a sack by David Bass. He also dropped an interception, which should've been a huge play.
While the pass rush was nonexistent, this group should also share partial blame for allowing Clemens to average 16.7 yards per completion.
It was an awful day for the Bears defense on every level. This group didn't do anything to deserve a better grade than the rest of them.
Robbie Gould, Adam Podlesh, Devin Hester
The big play came when Hester appeared to have a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown, to get the Bears back within a touchdown; however, it was called back due to a very questionable holding call on Craig Steltz.
Outside of that, the Bears return game was awful.
Hester averaged just 22.5 yards per kick return, particularly bad considering he was taking the ball out from deep inside the end zone. The blocking is partially to blame, but the Bears had started three drives inside their own 15-yard line following kick returns by Hester. He also fumbled once.
Podlesh averaged just 40.3 yards per punt despite kicking indoors. He missed chances to pin the Rams closer to their own end zone and again left Bears fans longing for the heyday of Brad Maynard.
Gould made all three of his extra points but didn't attempt a field goal.
If Hester's touchdown had counted, this grade would be much higher, but the Bears special teams did nothing special or even above average in this game.