Bears vs. Eagles: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Chicago

Andrew DannehyCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2013

Bears vs. Eagles: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Chicago

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    The Chicago Bears had a chance to clinch the NFC North with a win, but they never bothered to show up, as they were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    There are a lot of fans looking for someone to blame. When a team loses like this, there isn't a single player or coach who doesn't deserve a big chunk of the blame.

    The Bears came out like a team with nothing to play for, and now they need to win in Week 17 just to make the playoffs.

    It was a complete failure on offense, defense and special teams. When that happens, the coaches deserve to be blamed as much as anyone. 

    This, however, isn't about the coaches. It's about the players, and I have graded every position group for the Bears.

    As always, I used a bell curve to grade. A player with a tough matchup gets a little more leeway than one with an easy matchup. That said, it's hard to give anyone a favorable grade after a performance like that. 



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    Jay Cutler, Josh McCown

    There are a lot of people lining up to blame Cutler, as the Bears struggled offensively. He was part of the reason why, but he really didn't have much of a chance.

    The Bears were already losing 21-0 when Cutler had thrown just one pass. That one pass bounced to tight end Martellus Bennett and would've resulted in a first down, but it certainly wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game.

    Cutler made some nice throws on the Bears' next drive, as they picked up first downs on 3rd-and-10 and 3rd-and-7, but the protection broke down, leading to back-to-back sacks. On 3rd-and-28, he threw a nice pass in the end zone to Brandon Marshall, but Marshall was hooked before the ball arrived and couldn't make a play on it.

    As I wrote about in preseason, slow starts have always been an issue with Cutler. However, this one can't be put on him, as a team shouldn't be down 21-0 with just one pass thrown. 

    The large deficit forced the Bears to be one-dimensional. They couldn't block, and their receivers weren't getting open. No quarterback could've been successful in that situation.

    With the game already well in hand, Cutler made a lazy and late throw that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. 

    Of course, the obvious question some are asking is if Josh McCown would've made a difference. Maybe he would've completed the pass to Bennett that Cutler missed, or maybe he would've completed others that Cutler didn't.

    McCown did get a chance late in the game and went three-and-out on his first possession, not that it mattered.

    That conversation isn't really worth having after general manager Phil Emery made it pretty clear the Bears want Cutler to be their quarterback long term on ESPN 1000's Waddle and Silvy Show last week.

    To have a chance in this game, the Bears would've needed the best game any quarterback has ever played. The line wasn't blocking well, they didn't have a running game and their receivers weren't getting open. Most importantly, their defense and special teams put them in a big hole.

    Still, Cutler didn't play well. 

    Grade: D+

Running Backs

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    Matt Forte, Tony Fiammetta, Michael Bush

    Forte had come into the game with over 100 yards in his last three games, but he was a complete non-factor.

    It isn't all his fault. The Bears didn't do a good job holding up at the line of scrimmage, and he didn't get very many carries early. 

    He didn't do anything to help himself.

    Part of what makes Forte special is his ability to make defenders miss. He didn't do that at all. When the Bears were attempting to come back, he was tackled in the end zone for a safety, with the defender making an arm tackle to bring him down. That shouldn't happen to a running back who makes as much money as Forte makes.

    What's worse is that he was a liability as a pass-blocker. He missed two blocks that resulted in sacks, both were big plays. 

    Neither Fiammetta nor Bush did anything to make an impact, positively or negatively, so this grade is reflective mostly of Forte.

    Grade: D

Tight Ends

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    Martellus Bennett, Eben Britton, Dante Rosario

    The statistics say Bennett had a great game, but the tape doesn't really back that.

    The final stat line of five catches for 85 yards looks good, but the Eagles were determined to make him beat them, single covering him with linebackers for most of the game. 

    Philadelphia had double coverage on receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, meaning Bennett was isolated with a safety or linebacker for nearly the entire game. He had good statistics, but he should've been better with those coverages.

    There were a few passes he didn't catch that he could have, but the bigger issue was that he wasn't getting open like he should have.

    He bobbled what should've been a long touchdown catch in the third quarter. He still ended up making the catch, but replay may have overturned it if the Eagles weren't ahead by 30. That didn't end up hurting the Bears, but it was Bennett's night in a nutshell. 

    He was good, just not as good as he should've been.

    Neither Britton nor Rosario played enough snaps to make an impact, although Britton was part of the problem when it came to the Bears' blocking issues.

    Grade: C

Wide Receivers

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Eric Weems

    This is a tough group to grade because of the coverages the Eagles were giving them.

    Both Marshall and Jeffery were seeing two defenders on just about every play. They beat the coverage occasionally, but when that happens, the rest of the offense needs to step up, which it didn't.

    They also both appeared to beat the coverage deep for what should've been big plays. Cutler's throws were on the mark, but they were bumped or grabbed and unable to make plays on the ball. 

    Marshall had a very good touchdown catch on the last play of the third quarter, but he dropped a pass on their next drive that would've been a big play. Although, in both cases, the game had already been decided.

    With the coverage being what it was, Bennett should've had a big game. Yet, he was non-existent, as he has been far too often this season. 

    It's hard to say it was a bad performance for the Bears' receivers, but it certainly wasn't a good one. The Eagles' secondary has struggled for much of this season, but they couldn't take advantage.

    Grade: C

Offensive Line

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    Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills

    It was a tough game for this group, as they weren't good in any facet.

    Bushrod and Mills struggled on the edges, and the entire group struggled with blitz pickups.

    They didn't do anything to help either Forte or Cutler all game. Whether it was speed or power, the Eagles man-handled the Bears up front.

    Cutler was sacked five times—although two of those were on Forte—and Forte managed just 3.2 yards per carry, even with his stats being padded in garbage time.

    This looked very much like a performance from last year's offensive line. It was arguably their worst performance of the season.

    Grade: F

Defensive Line

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    Julius Peppers, Jeremiah Ratliff, Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin, Stephen Paea, David Bass, Landon Cohen

    Another week, another pathetic performance. What more is there to say about this group?

    The Eagles had two players run for over 100 yards, as they finished with 289 as a team and an average of eight yards per carry. That includes the yards Michael Vick lost taking two kneel downs.

    They ended up with two sacks, although both seemed to be more of botched plays by the Eagles.

    For the most part, they gave Nick Foles all day to throw, as none of them were able to consistently beat blocks.

    If the Bears don't get a much better performance from this group next week, they won't make the playoffs. The unfortunate part is there's little reason to think they will be better. At a certain point, you are what you are.  

    Grade: F


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    Lance Briggs, Jon Bostic, James Anderson

    Briggs' triumphant return was anything but.

    The Bears had hoped their defensive leader would help put them in better position and get some big plays of his own. However, they ended up with their worst defensive performance of the season, and Briggs managed to tally just one tackle.

    Anderson finished with three tackles, but none of them had an impact on the game.

    The team needs to seriously consider if Bostic is the best player they have to play in the middle before they go into a game with their season on the line. 

    He was beaten on Philadelphia's first touchdown, as he was supposed to have coverage on the play (according to former NFL safety Matt Bowen), but he was lost, as he often is in coverage. 

    The Eagles also ran right at him, taking advantage of his lack of instincts and inability to shed blocks or even hold his own when he takes them on.

    Bostic did make a nice play to recover what was ruled a fumble, but the game was already well in hand by then.

    During his appearance on ESPN 1000's Waddle and Silvy Show, general manager Phil Emery wondered if Bostic was a better fit outside than he is in the middle. If the guy who drafted and defends Shea McClellin as a defensive end is considering changing Bostic's position, it's a very bad sign.

    Linebacker is a position that is about instincts as much as anything else. Bostic doesn't appear to have any, and the Bears can't wait to see if he's going to develop them.

    Grade: F


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    Tim Jennings, Zack Bowman, Chris Conte, Major Wright, Craig Steltz, Isaiah Frey

    Usually a strength of their defense, Jennings was beaten regularly by DeSean Jackson, although the Bears' lack of a pass rush gave Jackson help there.

    Bowman was alright, about as good as can be expected, anyway.

    Frey was also OK, but he did get beat a few times. He had a forced fumble, which could've been a big play, but it was overturned on replay.

    The Bears' safety play was once again beyond terrible. Conte and Wright were almost always out of position and didn't make plays even when they were in position.

    Conte missed at least two tackles that ended up being touchdowns, something that absolutely can't happen.

    Like with their defensive line, it's hard to believe the Bears don't have or can't find safeties who are better than this. 

    One of the few times the Bears stopped the Eagles came when Steltz was on the field, replacing Conte. 

    Steltz may not be good in coverage, but he can tackle, which is more than the team's starters can say.

    Grade: D-

Special Teams

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    Robbie Gould, Adam Podlesh, Devin Hester, Michael Ford

    Podlesh set the tone for the Bears on the night with a 25-yard punt that set the Eagles up at the Bears' 43 for their first drive.

    Not to be out-done, Hester fumbled the ensuing kickoff after the Eagles scored a touchdown, so their second possession started at the Bears' 39.

    The Eagles have a very good offense, and the Bears have a very bad offense; the last thing they could afford was their special teams putting their defense in a big hole. 

    Yet, they did, and it led to 14 points for the Eagles before the Bears had run just their fourth play.

    Podlesh managed to average just 37.6 yards per punt and missed several opportunities to put the Eagles in the shadow of their own end zone. 

    Hester finished with a return average of just under 24 yards per return. His longest return was the one that ended with a fumble, as he ran 36 yards before putting the ball on the ground.

    Later in the game, the Bears tried a reverse to Michael Ford on a kick-return play that offered very little reward since they were already down 24-0.

    Ford managed just seven yards after taking the lateral from Hester.

    The saving grace for this unit was Gould connecting on a 50-yard field-goal attempt. That's the only thing that prevents this grade from being an F.

    Grade: D-