Chicago Bears

Bears grades: The return of D's and F's, except for the linebackers

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USA Today

Bears grades: The return of D's and F's, except for the linebackers

QUARTERBACKS: D

Mitchell Trubisky threw three interceptions, with two of them particularly deflating: His first pick came on the second play of the third quarter when he overthrew Kendall Wright while rolling to his left; his second came in the end zone on third down. The last one came late in the fourth quarter when he and tight end Daniel Brown weren’t on the same page. Those mistakes were disappointing for a guy who hadn’t thrown an interception since Week 12, and now has as many interceptions as touchdowns (seven). But Trubisky did make a number of good throws, like when he stared down a blitz and found Markus Wheaton for a 22-yard gain. He also appeared to be the reason why the Lions to jump offsides twice, a good sign for his development with his cadence. But while he threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his career, the turnovers are the most important thing here. 

RUNNING BACKS: D

While some of the Bears’ running issues on Saturday were the product of some shaky run blocking from an offensive line that lost its two starting guards (Tom Compton and Josh Sitton) to injury, Jordan Howard wasn’t able to do much, either. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t break a tackle, and Howard finished with only 37 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Tarik Cohen didn’t get on the field much, playing only 25 of the Bears’ 63 offensive snaps and gaining one yard on two rushing attempts. The good news, perhaps, for this group: Howard caught all four targets he received for 26 yards, and he, Cohen and Benny Cunningham combined for 12 catches on 15 targets for 75 yards with the Bears’ only touchdown (which went to Cunningham). 

WIDE RECEIVERS: D

The stats for this group are inflated by the Bears’ having to try to pass their way back into the game in the second half, but while Kendall Wright (seven catches, 81 yards), Josh Bellamy (five catches, 70 yards) and Markus Wheaton (two catches, 42 yards) seemed to be productive, that trio only caught 14 of their 24 targets. Trubisky’s accuracy issues had something to do with that, but there were some poor plays in there too, like when Wright couldn’t hang on to a pass on the Bears’ first drive that was dislodged by safety Quandre Diggs. Also concerning here: Dontrelle Inman was invisible for the second straight week, only catching one of two targets for five yards six days after Trubisky didn’t look his way at all in the Bears’ blowout win over Cincinnati. Bellamy was also whistled for two penalties. 

TIGHT ENDS: D

Not having Adam Shaheen (chest) on Saturday was a blow to this group, especially after it functioned so well with the rookie in there last weekend in Cincinnati. Dion Sims caught his only target for nine yards, while Daniel Brown caught three of four targets for 32 yards — but that one target he didn’t catch was intercepted. That the Bears struggled to run the ball falls some on the tight ends, too: Only three of the nine plays with Sims and Brown on the field at the same time were runs, and those went for a meager nine yards. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: D

Four penalties were assessed to the Bears’ offensive line: Holding and a false start for Charles Leno, holding for Hroniss Grasu and illegal hands to the face for Cody Whitehair. Losing Sitton and Compton stretched this group to its max, and the Teryl Austin’s Lions defense had some success run blitzing the Bears. But it’s hard to find positives when the production from the Bears’ running game wasn’t there, especially a week after this offensive line dominated the Bengals’ front seven. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

Akiem Hicks hit home on a sack for the first time since Week 8 and added a tackle for a loss, but he whiffed dropping Matt Stafford on that 58-yard heave to Marvin Jones in the second quarter. The Lions averaged 4.6 yards per carry, over a yard higher than their season average (3.4, 31st in the NFL). Eddie Goldman returned to the defense and only got on the stat sheet because of a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty he committed on the first play of the game. 

LINEBACKERS: A-

Sam Acho (one sack, one TFL, one hurry and a forced fumble) and Lamarr Houston (two sacks, two hurries, two tackles for a loss) each had huge games, while Nick Kwiatkoski had a solid game (eight tackles) as well. Pernell McPhee, prior to suffering a shoulder injury, had a few decent pressures and sniffed out a screen to Ameer Abdullah for a loss of six (he was injured on that play). This unit was not the problem with the Bears on Saturday, to say the least. 

DEFENISVE BACKS: D-

Eddie Jackson did some good things in the open field, but allowing Jones to catch that 58-yard jump ball in the second quarter — which was on a third-and-18 play and set up Detroit’s first touchdown of the game — was rough. Kyle Fuller struggled, too, allowing catches all five times Stafford threw his way for 61 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Fuller was flagged once, while Prince Amukamara had two penalties assessed on him. Stafford has been kryptonite for this group, with passer ratings of 120.2 and 115.3 and no interceptions against the Bears in 2017. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-

There were two bad penalties assessed to the Bears on special teams on Saturday: First, DeAndre Houston-Carson was flagged for holding on what was otherwise a 90-yard kickoff return by Cohen. And John Timu was whistled for holding on a shanked punt that only went 24 yards, leading to the Bears beginning a third quarter possession at their own 36 instead of own 46. 

COACHING: F

Another week of undisciplined play (13 penalties) doesn’t reflect well on the coaching staff. John Fox’s decision to punt on fourth-and-one from the Bears’ own 45-yard line in first half was head-scratching for a team without anything to lose. Not kicking an onside kick down 10 with about two and a half minutes left was odd, but made more confusing by Mike Nugent kicking a pooch kick instead of going deep. This postgame quote from Wright about why the Bears played so poorly six days after playing so well wasn’t necessarily meant as a criticism of the coaching staff, but can be read as sort of an inadvertent one:

“I have no idea,” Wright said. “I have no idea. That’s a question I can’t even answer. I would say we came out flat, but I don’t really think so. I think everybody was ready to play and everybody had the energy to play. It’s not anything I can put on that.”

Under Center Podcast: What’s the game plan!?! Bears lose 10th game to Lions

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: What’s the game plan!?! Bears lose 10th game to Lions

Laurence Holmes, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down the Bears 20-10 loss to the Lions on Saturday.

Why didn’t the game plan include more runs for Jordan Howard? How did Mitchell Trubisky play so poorly despite a career-high in pass yards? And where is the leadership on this team? Plus – could the Bears actually lose to the Browns and hit rock bottom?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Bears hit new low in loss to Lions: 'It's been going on like this all year'

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USA TODAY

Bears hit new low in loss to Lions: 'It's been going on like this all year'

The Bears thought perhaps they had put the wheels back on at least a small part of their lost 2017 season last week in Cincinnati. It was illusory.

In the latest game that justifiably falls under the heading of “embarrassing,” the wheels were completely off in a 20-10 loss to the Detroit Lions (8-6) that said that the Bears (4-10) are not even within hailing distance of their NFC North cousins at the end of a third straight, and presumably last, season of double-digit losses under coach John Fox.

The Bears have had worse losses under Fox. They have had few worse games, top to bottom.

Any faint chance of Fox surviving for a fourth season as Bears coach depended on a run of solid performances to finish out the season. This was anything but and was yet another game marked and marred by inept performances in all three phases, four if coaching counts as a separate one.

The loss was the sixth in the seven games since the Bears held their destiny in their own hands at 3-4, only to deteriorate rather than improve as the season went along. And it was a game that at different points, in particular during a collapsing second half, the sense reached the point of “you couldn’t make this up.” The Cincinnati game now stands as a clear outlier; the Green Bay and San Francisco games and this Detroit game have become the hood ornaments of the 2017 Bears.

As for specific bewilderings: The NFL’s No. 32 rushing team (Detroit) finished with more than double the rushing yards of the Bears, 91-43, one game after the Bears rushed for more than 200 yards for the fourth time this season — including 222 the last time they saw the Lions on Nov. 19. Against the No. 20 rushing defense (Detroit) the Bears threw the football 43 times and ran it 15, including two by quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Much more on that shortly, because it gets at deeper problems.

Jordan Howard was handed the football exactly 10 times, just three in the second half. The stated reason for it will be that the Bears were playing from behind, but the Bears didn’t fall behind by three scores until midway through the third quarter.

“Lack of rhythm on offense, penalty, and I need to take care of the football,” Trubisky said by way of summarizing a day of yards (349 vs. 293 for Detroit) but too many of the plays that epitomize what bad football teams do, or don’t do. Trubisky finished with 314 passing yards, his first 300-yard day, but turnovers and a handful of poor decisions overshadowed any positives for his 10th NFL start.

Franchise-quarterback-in-progress Trubisky went from the best game of his career a week ago against the Bengals to arguably his poorest, based on three second-half interceptions when the game was still within reach, at least emotionally.

One, on the second play of the second half from the Bears 22, was turned into a Detroit touchdown. The second was thrown into double coverage in the Detroit end zone and cost the Bears at least three points. The third ended the final Bears possession at the Detroit 16.

“Sometimes quarterbacks have those days,” Fox said. “He’ll have better days.”

Fox has had better ones, too.

In a return of another issue reflecting very poorly on Fox’s coaching staff, the number and kinds of penalties became a statement in themselves. Special teams lost a 90-yard kickoff return by Tarik Cohen because of a holding penalty against DeAndre Houston-Carson.

Later, with the football at the Bears' eight-yard line: a holding penalty on fill-in offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu, followed a snap later by a holding flag on wide receiver Josh Bellamy, capped off by a delay of game call, which falls on Trubisky. With five minutes still to play in the fourth quarter the Bears had had 13 penalties walked off.

Coaching mysteries

A Detroit team that came into Saturday giving up at least 100 rushing yards in the past five games — including more than 130 in four of those — "held" the Bears to 43. Those last five teams ran the football 28, 27, 41, 30 and 33 times; the Bears on Saturday ran it a total of 15. Late in a season with a 4-9 record the Bears were ordered to punt on a fourth-and-one situation in the second quarter from their own 41 — doubtless the safe play intended to set up field position. But the Bears ran the football football four more times in the half, gaining four, two, four and five yards on those. And three of the Bears’ previous four run plays before that situation had gained at least one yard.

As for the field position resulting from the punt, the Lions took the ball 92 yards for a touchdown, the third time in four possessions that the Bears defense had allowed a drive of at least eight plays and for points.

In one of those moments that sparks a “what are they teaching these guys?” question, safety Eddie Jackson was inexplicably passive waiting on a third-and-18 pass from Stafford to wide receiver Marvin Jones, who took the ball that was made for Jackson. Instead of an interception, the Lions had a 58-yard completion and the Bears had one of those plays that turned a small spotlight toward secondary coaching. Two years ago it was veteran Antrel Rolle failing to attack a looping, wobbling third-down heave by the Minnesota Vikings that resulted in a completion that cost the Bears that game.

Saturday marked the 10th time in 14 games in which the Bears have allowed 20 or more points. That encapsulates the decline and fall of defensive hopes under coordinator Vic Fangio, while the fact that the Bears have lost nine of those games says it all as far as the offensive ineptness under coordinator Dowell Loggains.

For his part, Loggains earned another question mark at the end of the first half when, after a takeaway gave the offense the ball at the Detroit 27 with 12 seconds on the clock and two timeouts in hand, Trubisky settled for a four-yard flip underneath to tight end Daniel Brown. Nothing in the middle of the field, nothing challenging the Detroit end zone down 13-0. The Bears settled for a field goal, probably not the kind of “drive” that general manager Ryan Pace had in mind when he made sure the Bears landed Trubisky on draft day.

To the point of the overall, however, which transcends any specific bad or good coming out of Fox’s fifth loss in six Bears games vs. Detroit, former Bears defensive end Alex Brown, linebacker Lance Briggs and quarterback Jim Miller voiced identical sentiments on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Bears Postgame Live” show:

“It’s been going on like this all year.”