Grading the Bears: Week Three Preseason: @ Denver Broncos
The Bears' offense looked a little lethargic at times, but once the offense picked up a first down or two, they picked up steam.
The grades stand as follows...
Cutler started out pretty slow in the first quarter but turned it on in the second, finishing 15/21 for 144 yards and a touchdown.
He seemed a little hesitant starting out but really, once the Bears picked up a first down, they picked up momentum.
Backup QB Caleb Hanie finished a combined 4-8 for 48 yards. Hanie's accuracy looked a little shaky at times, but he did throw a 43-yard strike to rookie Johnny Knox on a drive that eventually led to a touchdown run by Adrian Peterson.
Basanez went 2-2, hitting Juaquin Iglesias for a 25-yard gain, and then later tight end Michael Gaines for 26 yards on a drive that ended in a Robbie Gould field goal.
Running Backs: B
This grade is based on overall standings. The final numbers looked alright, but the Bears need a better ground attack if they wish to continue their success into the regular season.
Matt Forte looked good, running for a TD and catching a TD, but overall the Broncos' much maligned run defense basically shut the Forte down, holding him to 21 yards on nine carries and 11 yards off of four receptions.
Adrian Peterson was actually the most successful running back today. He finished the game with 68 yards on 12 carries.
Kevin Jones and Garrett Wolfe were both fairly unimpressive in limited action. A.P.'s performance tonight might have solidified his roster spot.
Wide Receivers: C
They weren't bad...but they really weren't all that good either. Three of the top four receivers in terms of yards were all tight ends. The only exception is Knox who hauled in that 43-yarder. No one had any real drops, but no one made any spectacular catches.
It was like purgatory. It was alright, not great by any means, but not bad. Just sort of so-so.
On a side note of that, no single receiver really made a solid case for a roster spot. Knox might have with his long grab and Iglesias had a solid 25-yard reception, but Rashied Davis didn't record a catch (although he had a few special team tackles) and both Rideau (one catch, four yards) and Aromashodu (two catches, eight yards) were unimpressive
Tight Ends: A-
Contributions came from all over. Greg Olsen had 47 yards, Clark had 30, and Gaines had 26. They were solid from top to bottom. Kellen Davis didn't get much action, but his blocking looked alright and neither Hanie nor Basanez had many chances to throw the ball anyway.
Offensive line: C
After a good game against the New York Giants last week, the Bears' offensive line really under achieved against the Broncos. Free agent pick up Orlando Pace was taken to school on a number of occasions by defensive end Elvis Dumervil. And while they didn't allow any sacks, there was little to no push by the starters on run plays, which against a suspect run defense, was not encouraging.
Much like the receivers, the offensive line graded only average. If they play like that against the Vikings' defensive line, Jared Allen will record five sacks minimum.
(DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS ON PAGE 2)
Defensive line: B
They managed to generate some pressure against former teammate Kyle Orton and the starters limited the rushing yards, allowing only nine net rushing yards in the first half.
I would, however, like to see more pressure from just the front four. Orton is not going to beat you on a deep pass, which allowed our defensive backs to cheat up and muddled things up, but we will not be able to do that in week one up in Green Bay.
Props to Matt "Big Toe" Toeaina, who is fighting for a roster spot, for a heads up recovery of a fumble. With Dusty Dvoracek's knee injury, Toeaina could find himself on the active roster for the rest of the season. This comes after struggling the past couple years for consistent time with the Bears.
Lance Briggs made the only sack of the game. Brian Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa both had three tackles and Pisa showed off some speed, catching Broncos' receiver Eddie Royal from behind.
Rookie Marcus Freeman contributed to the high grade by recording the only interception of the game on a pass deflection.
Defensive backfield: B-/C+
Trumaine McBride looked shaky at times, especially when making tackles. Nathan Vasher was not amazing, but I thought he played better than expected.
The safeties played alright, although quietly. Kevin Payne made a couple nice stops but you didn't hear much from Craig Steltz, who recorded three tackles, or Josh Bullocks, who recorded four tackles.
The grade is balanced between C+ and B- due in large part to the fact that McBride, Vasher, Graham, Steltz, and Bullocks are all backups covering for starters.
Projected defensive backfield starters that were held out were both starting cornerbacks, Charles Tillman and Zachary Bowman, and free safety Danieal Manning.
Special Teams: B+
Well, Robbie Gould was money on his field goals, although a kickoff or two landed a little short.
Brad Maynard played alright, punting seven times for a net average of 42 yards and a long of 58 yards. And while only one of those seven punts landed inside the 20-yard line, Maynard for the first half was consistently kicking out of the shadow of his own goal posts.
And that brings us to Devin Hester...listen, I am sure that the media has covered Hester's 54-yard punt-return extensively, and believe me I am excited. Just seeing Hester prove he still has the jets for punt returns made my heart pound.
But that said, what Hester did on one punt return was more than both Garrett Wolfe and Johnny Knox were able to accomplish on the kickoff return unit. Their combined yardage equaled HALF of Hester's one return. Although, I suppose having Danieal Manning back there will be a boost.
Rashied Davis did make a couple nice tackles on special teams, which should help in his case for making the team.
Overall Grade: B+
The offense looked sloppy at times, and the defense benefited from facing a Brandon Marshall-less Broncos team. They pulled out a victory, but the run game/offensive line has to improve, and the defensive line needs to apply more pressure. Otherwise, Bears are looking pretty good.
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