NFL Season Report: Grading the Chicago Bears Through 13 Weeks

Zack Pearson@Zack_PearsonCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2010

NFL Season Report: Grading the Chicago Bears Through 13 Weeks

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    DETROIT - DECEMBER 05: Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches the action during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 5, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The Chicago Bears have completed 3/4 of their 2010 season and, so far, it's been so good. The Bears are 9-3 going into a huge showdown against the New England Patriots.

    The Bears lead the NFC North by one game over the Green Bay Packers. The two teams meet in week 17 at Green Bay and it's likely that game will decide the division title.

    The Bears have received solid play from almost everyone, making them a dangerous team in the NFC. The defense is playing dominant defense and the offense seems like they are getting it together.

Charles Tillman

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Charles Tillman #33 of the Chicago Bears uses the goal post as a punching bag during warm-ups before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Image
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Charles Tillman might just be one of the most underrated corner backs in the NFL. He is a key piece of this Bears defense and has shown that this season. Tillman has recorded 62 tackles on the season.

    Tillman's three interceptions shy away from his play, but his three forced fumbles are what makes Tillman a playmaker. He's the best at stripping the ball away from receivers and is very good in coverage, as well.

    Grade: B+

Earl Bennett

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Earl Bennett #80 of the Chicago Bears celebrates an offensive play against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 31-26. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Imag
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Bennett struggled early on this season and at times didn't play at all in games. It seemed like Bennett wasn't ready to play in this offense. Lately however, Bennett has emerged as the Bears go-to guy.

    After the Bears bye in Week 8, Bennett has given Chicago what they have been missing on the receiving core. He's become a possession receiver. That will benefit speed receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester.

    Bennett has 37 receptions and three touchdowns, including two against the Eagles. If Bennett's solid play can continue, the Bears will have added a key player to the offense for Jay Cutler.

    Grade: B

Lance Briggs

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Lance Briggs #55 of the Chicago Bears awaits the start of play as Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles calls the signals at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 31-26. (Photo b
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Lance Briggs has been another outstanding player on the defense this season. With 65 tackles, Briggs is  all over the field. He is one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL. Briggs has just one sack and two interceptions on the year.

    Briggs gives the Bears another solid playmaker aside Brian Urlacher. The two have formed a tandem that has offenses scheming around them.

    Grade: B+

Matt Forte

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    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against the Buffalo Bills  at Rogers Centre on November 7, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Chicago won 22-19.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Bears have struggled this season with the run game. Lately, the run game has improved, but in the beginning of the year it was non-exsistant. Poor offensive line play has contributed to this. The Bears were awful and near the bottom of the league in rushing early on.

    Matt Forte hasn't had a good season like he had in his rookie year of 2008. This season he has made up for his poor running game by being a weapon and consistent in the receiving game.

    Forte has 748 yards rushing this season with five touchdowns. Not bad numbers, but for being a starting running back, those numbers have to go up. Forte also has 36 receptions for 389 yards and three touchdowns.

    Grade: B-

Israel Idonije

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10: Defensive tackle Israel Idonije #71 of the Chicago Bears stands on the field against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Idonije has clearly been the most improved Bear this season. Idonije has stepped up with teams double teaming Julius Peppers. Idonije has fed off that and made it count. With seven sacks on the season, Idonije gives the Bears another threat on the defensive line.

    Going into the season, many people believed it would be Tommie Harris to step up. It hasn't been and Harris' ineffective play has led to a chance for Izzy to shine.

    Grade: B+

Devin Hester

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Devin Hetser #23 of the Chicago Bears returns a kick against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 31-26. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Hester started the season as a starting wide receiver for the Bears. Now Hester has returned to the return game. Hester gives the Bears good starting field position every time he returns a punt or a kickoff.

    Hester hasn't turned out to be the receiver the Bears wanted him to be. He's only got 351 yards and two touchdowns. With the emergence of Bennett, Hester's production is sure to go down.

    Grade: B-

Brian Urlacher

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a defensive touchdown against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Gett
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It's safe to say that Brian Urlacher has returned to the level of play we have seen for most of his career. After having a year off due to injury, Urlacher has played spectacular for the Bears this season. Being the anchor of one of the best defenses, offenses fear Urlacher and scheme around him.

    Urlacher has 94 tackles on the season and three sacks. Without Urlacher, this Bears defense is a different defense. Urlacher will need to continue his stellar play if the Bears want to make a Super Bowl run.

    Grade: A+

Jay Cutler

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks for a receiver against of the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 31-26. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    After a season to forget in 2009, Cutler has given reason for Bears fans to believe he's the franchise quarterback. Cutler has played well this season, for the most part. He's still made the silly mistakes to cost the Bears key games (See the Redskins game where he threw four interceptions).

    Even with those mistakes, Cutler has the Bears poised for a deep playoff run this year. He's got 17 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Cutler has showed his mobility lately, making him a scrambling threat for defenses.

    With a limited receiving core, Cutler has proved he can be a game-changer. It's just up to him to limit his mistakes and lead the Bears.

    Grade: B

Julius Peppers

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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 17: Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on October 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Arguably the biggest signing of the 2010 free agency period, Peppers has proved he was worth all of the money. Peppers doesn't have the numbers to prove it, but his on-field presence is something the Bears haven't seen from a defensive lineman since Tommie Harris in 2005-2006.

    Peppers just has seven sacks on the season with one interception. He draws double teams from offenses, which leads to more chances for another defensive lineman. Peppers' presence is so valuable to Chicago.

    Grade: A

Lovie Smith

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears looks on against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Coach Lovie Smith received a lot of criticism last season, due to the team's poor play. This season, however, Smith might have saved his job. Barring a complete meltdown and the Bears fail to make the playoffs, Lovie will save his job.

    To give him credit, Lovie has turned this team into a team that some experts predicted to finish last in the division. Lovie still has his challenging problems, but overall has done a good job coaching this season.

    Grade: B-