Bears

Bears grades: Forte, Hester receive highest mark

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Bears grades: Forte, Hester receive highest mark

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011
Posted: 5:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
The Cam Newton Experience was overshadowed by a Bears game plan that featured 18 pass plays and 30 runs by backs. The Bears failed to pick up at least one first down on only two of 10 possessions and made the most out of possessions in a game that saw the defense and special teams each score touchdowns and send the Carolina offense back onto the field.
QUARTERBACK: B-

The numbers arent the whole story. Jay Cutler was a game manager. Period. He was asked to throw just 18 passes (17 he got off, plus one sack). He completed a pedestrian nine passes for 102 yards, second-lowest of his career for a full game and his rating of 46.7 was the lowest in his career for a victory. Cutler threw too high to reserve tight end Kyle Adams in the fourth quarter and was intercepted in the Chicago end of the field. But Cutler handled occasional pressure well and controlled the game for his offense.
RUNNING BACKS: A

Matt Forte ran for 205 yards, a career high, on 25 carries and caught four of five passes thrown to him for another 23 and was handed the ball as many times in the first half nine as he was during the entire Green Bay game and one short of his carry total against New Orleans. Forte responded with 94 yards and a TD. Forte made this a statement game for elite status and now has had 158 or more total yards in three of four games this year and his rushing touchdown was the Bears first this season.

Marion Barber was a welcome addition to the backfield, giving Forte relief in the first quarter with a first-down burst and putting the game out of reach with a 3-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

Forte also provided support for Cutler in pass protection, contributing with several blitz pickups and support on double-teams where needed. Fullback Tyler Clutts did not touch the ball but was effective as a lead blocker.
RECEIVERS: B-

The offense only threw the ball four times in the first half but Dane Sanzenbacher and Roy Williams converted catches into first downs. Sanzenbacher had a drop on a third-down but the receivers delivered downfield blocking that occupied defensive backs and helped extend Forte runs.

Forte had five runs of longer than 10 yards; four of them 17 or longer. Those do not happen without receivers and tight ends making blocks downfield.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A

Frank Omiyale did a respectable job early, sealing the right side for Fortes 45-yard run in the first quarter. Chris Williams cleared the way for Fortes 17-yard TD jaunt in the second quarter, aided by effective back-side protection from center Roberto Garza. Chris Spencer started again for Lance Louis at RG but went out in the first quarter with a hand injury and Louis came on and played well, possibly winning his starting job back.

But Omiyale gave up a first-down sack in the second quarter and did not play well going into halftime, and Garza was flagged a play later for being downfield too soon. Spencer returned to start the second half and Omiyale was benched with Louis moving out to right tackle, a position he had never played previously.

Louis played three different positions right guard, right tackle, tight end. The line gave Cutler adequate protection and was the key to Fortes 205 rushing yards.
COACHING: A

The Bears set up their passing game with throw-back football, running the ball on all eight plays of their opening drive and two out of three on their second. The game plan extended to running the ball on 13 of the first 14 plays and resisted the Mike Martz inclination to throw even though the Carolina pass defense has been one of the NFLs worst at allowing yardage and was without starting cornerback Chris Gamble.

More impressive perhaps, players talked afterwards about the adjustments coaches were making between each series to counteract Carolina scheming and also to maximize what they knew they would be able to do against the Panthers.

Newton played up to his reputation and stats, putting 543 total yards and 29 points on the Bears in their own house. It was a game the defense will take but cannot afford to repeat as a punt return and interception return saved the Bears, who gave up 10 plays of 20 yards or longer.

DEFENSIVE LINE: F

The front got barely any pressure on Newton and too often lost containment both of Newton and Carolina running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Carolina backs averaged 7.4 yards per carry and too often were getting to the second level, while Newton was rarely hurried and never sacked.
LINEBACKERS: D-

Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher each were credited initially with eight tackles and each made solid individual stops at crucial points. Their combination hit on Legedu Naanee resulted in a tipped ball that was grabbed and returned for a TD by D.J. Moore. Briggs provided some blitz pressure but backs were too frequently getting shoulders turned before linebackers were able to fill run gaps.

SECONDARY: D

Moore's interception return was one of the few big plays by the secondary. The defensive backs were embarrassed for 374 passing yards and 9 plays of 20 yards or longer by a rookie quarterback and receivers who clearly were ramped up to stick it to the Bears. Brandon Meriweather was burned by Steve Smith in deep coverage as Smith finished with 181 yards on eight catches. The Bears limited the receivers to a late TD by ex-Bear Greg Olsen but too many times were beaten for big plays.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

Devin Hester exploded a 73-yard KOR from nine yards deep in the end zone with excellent blocking to set up the Bears second TD. He topped that with 69-yard punt return for a touchdown to set an NFL record of 11 punt returns for touchdowns.

Julius Peppers blocked a short third-quarter field goal try by Olindo Mare. But Zackary Bowman cost the Bears field position by failing to locate the ball on a fourth-quarter punt that went for a touchback instead of giving Carolina the ball inside its 10.

Hester, Johnny Knox and Kahlil Bell returned three kickoffs an average of 31.3 yards, Knoxs one for 32 yards and Bell 20.

Adam Podlesh punted for a modest 39.3 average but dropped two of four inside the 20 and another for a touchback. Robbie Gould converted from 20 and 24 yards in his only two attempts.

COACHING: B

For the second straight week the Bears appeared ill-prepared for the intensity of an opponents opening drive. The defense rallied after a coverage breakdown on Carolinas second possession but rarely stopped the Panthers all afternoon. The decision was made not to spy Newton but the lack of pressure called for some adjustment somewhere to cut down on his time to throw.

Special teams preparation gave Hester decision-making authority on kickoff returns, the reason he brought one out from deep in the end zone.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should Bears do at No. 8?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should Bears do at No. 8?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score) and Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) join Kap on the panel.

The guys discuss Ryan Pace’s options with the NFL Draft just a day away. Plus, Porter Moser gets an extension at Loyola, Kyle Schwarber continues to rake and Michael Kopech continues to dominate at Triple-A.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Moon and JJ's final mock draft: Do the Bears go with offense or defense at No. 8?

Moon and JJ's final mock draft: Do the Bears go with offense or defense at No. 8?

Previous mock drafts: Jan. 22 | Feb. 6 | Feb. 26March 7March 19

1. Cleveland Browns

Moon: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

No team has butchered QB selections more than Cleveland, going back to Tim Couch instead of Donovan McNabb No. 1 overall in 1999, continuing to passings on Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Pat Mahomes, Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson in the span of just the last two years. Browns have scouted Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen each in three different targeted evaluations, including predraft visits. The deliberations will be intense and the Browns hope they’re getting Carson Palmer and not Matt Leinart. Allen or Mayfield here would not surprise at all, and Mayfield buzz picked up in the closing week.

JJ: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The Browns seem to be sending out plenty of smoke signals as to who they’ll take with the first overall pick, but it’ll be a quarterback. I’ve had Sam Darnold here since January, but will finish with this: Allen’s sky-high ceiling is too much for the Browns to pass up. Of course, his low floor means he could be the next in a long line of quarterbacks to bust with the Browns, and would look even worse if any of Darnold/Mayfield/Rosen wind up being good.

2. New York Giants

Moon: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The far-and-away top rusher in this draft lit up the Scouting Combine. With Jets apparently trading up for QB adding to pressure on that group, Giants go for running mate to assist Eli Manning and get a windfall with Barkley.

JJ: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Even with Darnold still on the board, the Dave Gettleman sticks to his guns and takes Barkley. We’ve seen a running back taken in the first four picks in each of the last two drafts (Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette), so taking one this high isn’t totally unprecedented — especially if there’s a consensus in the Giants’ draft room that Barkley is the best player in this draft. 

3. New York Jets

Moon: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The truly intriguing team in the top 10. Trading up from No. 6 says Jets, even with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown signed, are targeting a QB and want to get ahead of at least one Browns pick. A surprise could be coming but teams don’t mortgage their draft typically for less than a QB. The guess is which one but Jets making a move to ensure more than just a leftover. Drills and interviews will strike teams differently. Measurables may not be ideal (6-1) but they weren’t for Russell Wilson either. Mayfield made all the throws and has the benefit of coming from a big-time program.

JJ: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns and Giants make things easy for the Jets, who don’t need much discussion to take Darnold. I’m with Moon that Mayfield would be the pick here if Darnold isn’t on the board, though. 

4. Cleveland Browns

Moon: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

The first big jolt of the ’18 draft. Expect the Browns to trade out of here with Buffalo lurking and in quest of a franchise QB. But Bears aren’t the only team wanting to better protect a franchise QB and the Browns struck gold with tackle Joe Thomas at No. 3 in 2007. Hall of Fame guard John Hannah went No. 4 and Nelson is rated as one of two overall best in ’18 draft. While in Kansas City, GM John Dorsey went offensive line No. 1 overall in 2013 (T Eric Fisher) and second round in 2015 (G Mitch Morse).

JJ: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State

With Barkley off the board, the Browns take the second-best player in this year’s draft in Chubb. Pairing him with Myles Garrett presents a tantalizing long-term future for Cleveland’s pass rush. 

5. Denver Broncos

Moon: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

QB run continues. Denver and John Elway have fouled up the QB spot ever since Peyton Manning retired and badly need a QB hit. Evaluations (theirs and those of teams right above them) will determine which one falls to Broncos after they lost out to Minnesota for Kirk Cousins.

JJ: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

If Denver stays at No. 5, the debate comes down to Mayfield or Josh Rosen. The Broncos coached Mayfield in the Senior Bowl back in January, and that tips him over Rosen. Either way, in this scenario, there will still be one of the top four quarterbacks on the board when picks No. 6-8 are on the clock, leading to the potential for the Colts, Bucs or Bears to trade down with, most likely, the Buffalo Bills. 

6. Indianapolis Colts

Moon: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State

Trading down and still getting their guy is the early leader for ’18 draft move for Indy, where defense is such a priority for the Colts and its new coaching staff. Frank Reich likely can work Andrew Luck into something and a franchise pass rusher raises everything on that side of the football. The wild card here is Quenton Nelson; if he drops and Indy goes for there, Chubb could the surprise drop within reach of the Bears.

JJ: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Quenton Nelson and Roquan Smith could very well be in play for the Colts here, but they go with Ward in the hopes he could make an impact similar to that of Marshon Lattimore a year ago. 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Moon: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The top DB in the draft, left there by QB-mania. If the scramble 1-6 leaves Nelson or Chubb, Bucs should expect their phones to start ring with trade overtures.

JJ: Derwin James, S, Florida State

James profiles as a plug-and-play safety who can make an immediate impact, so Tampa Bay goes with him over Minkah Fitzpatrick, who while talented doesn’t have a set position yet. 

8. Chicago Bears

Moon: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Who’s still on The Board already will factor in huge here. Nelson? Chubb? Fitzpatrick? All are among the Bears’ Elite Eight graded worth No. 8, and GM Ryan Pace has amply demonstrated his flexibility and comfort with high-end deals, trading up in each of his past two first rounds and down in his past two second rounds.
 
Suspiciously perhaps, Pace offered public praise for Edmunds, which might well have been just a touch of misdirection; Bears didn’t have known Edmunds special evaluations like a visit or private workout, which they did for Chubb, Fitzpatrick, Nelson, Georgia’s Roquan Smith, whom many evaluators grade above Edmunds. But Edmunds gets a late nod here over Smith based on upside/ceiling in what is suddenly an extremely interesting spot amid the Great ’18 QB Craze.
 
A handful of the Bears’ targeted players will still be on the board, making a trade down very attractive. Their evaluation ratings are key; Pace won’t and shouldn’t go all-in based solely on need. Retaining Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller for big $$ takes CB need way down, and someone may be hungry to trade up for Ohio State CB Denzel Ward. If there’s a trade scenario to land G Quenton Nelson, Bears would seriously consider help in the form of Nelson if available for a questionable interior O-line to protect QB Mitch Trubisky. But Pace scored big in ’16 round two with Cody Whitehair, saw while in New Orleans what lower-round OL picks, top coaching and a quarterback could do.
 
Edmunds has size over Smith, and his production was solid over the past two seasons. Bears D-coordinator Vic Fangio won’t be making the pick, but Fangio has favored bigger OLB’s (Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Pernell McPhee), while having elite results from smaller ILB’s (Navorro Bowman, Patrick Willis).
 
All that said, Bears may not have a shot at Edmunds if San Francisco, which had private workouts with both Edmunds and Smith, makes a move up for Edmunds. But the combination of grade, need, position value and the rest say Edmunds to the Bears.

[More from Moon on why the Bears should draft Edmunds]

JJ: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

So the Bears get to their pick with Smith, Nelson, Fitzpatrick and Tremaine Edmunds still on the board, along with Rosen, presenting the possibility for a trade-down. This would present a number of factors for Ryan Pace to evaluate:

— Edmunds has the kind of off-the-charts physical traits Pace has targeted in previous drafts (Kevin White, Leonard Floyd), and could provide help to the Bears’ outside linebacker corps. But he’s more of a projection at this point, although that’s not necessarily a deterrent for Pace. 

— What about Fitzpatrick? He’s super-talented and his football intelligence and work ethic are well-regarded among draft circles. But is he a safety? Is he a cornerback? Do the Bears actually need either position? Unless the Bears were to view him as an absolute lock as the best player available at No. 8, he won’t be the guy. 

— Smith could start from Day 1 next to Danny Trevathan and give the Bears an excellent inside linebacker tandem. While his ceiling may not be as high as Edmunds, he’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Willis, the former San Francisco 49ers linebacker who thrived in Vic Fangio’s defense. But these are all defensive guys. So that leads us to…

— Nelson, who would fit with the Bears’ 2018 strategy of surrounding Mitch Trubisky with the best possible cast of supporting players. An interior offensive line of Nelson, Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long should be an effective blockade of inside pressure; the added benefit of Nelson is he immediately helps the inside zone running game in Matt Nagy’s offense. Pairing him with Harry Hiestand, his offensive line coach at Notre Dame, is a slam dunk for a guy who already looks like a slam dunk prospect. As someone at Notre Dame put it: Don’t overthink this, and take the guy who will be an All-Pro for years to come. 

[More from JJ on why the Bears should draft Nelson]

9. San Francisco 49ers

Moon: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Assuming Bears don’t grab Smith, he is a hedge against Ruben Foster injury and deepening character issues. Calvin Ridley may be too good to pass up as complement to QB Jimmy Garoppolo but Ridley didn’t really sweep through his evaluations.

JJ: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

With Smith still on the board, the 49ers don’t have to put much thought into the guy they’ll draft. It’s unlikely Smith makes it beyond the No. 9 pick. 

10. Oakland Raiders

Moon: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward was a backfield mate of Marshon Lattimore and consistently solid. Jon Gruden will want help on offense for Derek Carr, Ridley will be tempting, but Ward projects as day-one starter.

JJ: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Raiders could go for Fitzpatrick here with a “best player available” strategy, but drafting Edmunds and developing him into a star just in time for the move to Las Vegas sounds like a pretty nice path for Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden to take. 

11. Miami Dolphins

Moon: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
JJ: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

12. Buffalo Bills

Moon: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
JJ: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

13. Washington Redskins

Moon: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
JJ: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

14. Green Bay Packers

Moon: Derwin James, S, Florida State
JJ: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

15. Arizona Cardinals

Moon: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UT-San Antonio
JJ: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

16. Baltimore Ravens

Moon: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
JJ: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Moon: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
JJ: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

18. Seattle Seahawks

Moon: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
JJ: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

19. Dallas Cowboys

Moon: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
JJ: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

20. Detroit Lions

Moon: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
JJ: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Moon: Billy Price, C, Ohio State
JJ: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

22. Buffalo Bills

Moon: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
JJ: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

23. New England Patriots

Moon: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
JJ: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

24. Carolina Panthers

Moon: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
JJ: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

25. Tennessee Titans

Moon: Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State
JJ: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

26. Atlanta Falcons

Moon: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
JJ: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

27. New Orleans Saints

Moon: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
JJ: James Daniels, OG/C, Iowa

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Moon: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
JJ: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Moon: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
JJ: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

30. Minnesota Vikings

Moon: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
JJ: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

31. New England Patriots

Moon: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
JJ: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UT-San Antonio

32. Philadelphia Eagles

Moon: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
JJ: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State