Bears

Bears Grades: Defense gets Colts QB Andrew Luck down but far from out in loss

Bears Grades: Defense gets Colts QB Andrew Luck down but far from out in loss

INDIANAPOLIS – Sacking Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck five times was supposed to be the starting point for a win over the Colts. It wasn’t. And when the Bears needed to stop him at pivotal points, they couldn’t, which is the stuff of which losses in which a team allows 29 points are made.

The Colts scored the first four times they had the football, and it didn’t really ultimately matter that three of those four times they were forced to settle for field goals. None of those possessions lasted fewer than six plays and the Colts netted 396 yards – the third time in five games that the Bears (1-4) have allowed 340 or more yards, and the fourth time in five games that they Bears have allowed 23 or more points.

Including last season, the Bears have allowed nine of their last 10 opponents to score 21 or more points.

“We just have to keep plugging away,” said linebacker Willie Young.

Defensive line: D

Against an Indianapolis offensive line that has struggled this season, the lack of pass rush was glaring in the first half but got a little pickup when Akiem Hicks collapsed the pocket for a takedown of Luck in the third quarter. But no one was anywhere near Luck a play later when he converted a third down with a 19-yard pitch-and-catch.

And while Mitch Unrein contributed four tackles, no defensive lineman was consistently a factor stopping the Colts, who averaged 4.7 yards on 21 rushing attempts.

Hicks had a tackle for loss among his three tackles. Jonathan Bullard produced his first NFL sack on an ensuing third down to force a fourth Indianapolis field goal. Pressure on Luck improved dramatically in the second half but the Bears were unable to finish plays with wins up front.

[MORE BEARS GRADES: Offense produces big numbers but commit errors at worst times in loss to Colts]

Linebacker: C

Young gave the defense a first-quarter sack in a series with the Bears sorely needing a stop, and added a second in the second half to force the Colts to settle for a field goal. Young finished with three sacks, the first three-sack day of his career.

Sam Acho and Christian Jones worked on the edges in nickel packages. Ex-Colt Jerrell Freeman, credited with seven tackles in initial statistics, hit and pressured Luck into a throwaway that was short of the line of scrimmage for a grounding penalty.

Danny Trevathan returned from thumb surgery wearing a plastic cast on his hand and totaled six tackles.

Secondary: D-

The Bears were beaten for a deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter when safety Chris Prosinski appeared to leave the deep middle open with no help for cornerback Jacoby Glenn on T.Y. Hilton’s 35-yard TD that broke the Bears back. But the Colts had schemed to draw Prosinski away and Glenn allowed Hilton an inside break that was virtually impossible to defend.

“[The Colts] drained the safety [Prosinski] with the ‘out’ route and left the corner singled up, and the quarterback made a great throw,” said coach John Fox.

Coverage was generally pretty good against a good Colts passing game but that was wasted because of absent pass rush. When the rush started getting to Luck in the second half, coverage had too many windows of Colts opportunity.

Prosinski was substituted in for Harold Jones-Quartey in nickel packages. “That was just on third down,” Fox said, “but it was performance-based.”

Prosinski finished with eight tackles. Cornerback Bryce Callahan was credited with six stops before leaving with a hamstring strain. Cre’Von LeBlanc was credited with two pass breakups.

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Special teams: D

Connor Barth was wide left from 49 yards, a crucial third-quarter kick when the Bears needed points to answer a Colts score, and he remains a significant concern with (2-4) field goals for a team that will be in close games all year. The miss left the Bears in the position of needing a touchdown at the end of the game rather than being able to get close enough for try at a tying field goal and getting into overtime.

Roy Robertson-Harris was flagged for running into the punter but the Bears were spared because the play still left them in fourth down. Deonte Thompson gave an early boost with a 32-yard runback of the opening kickoff to set up a possession that ended with Connor Barth’s 35-yard field goal.

Coverage allowed a 39-yard Colts kickoff return in the second quarter allowed a punt return of 20 yards. Colts kickoff returns averaged 24.3 yards.

2020 Senior Bowl: Jordan Love's 1st-round hype is real

2020 Senior Bowl: Jordan Love's 1st-round hype is real

The Detroit Lions didn't gain any new fans after their questionable practice session (North team) on Day 1 of the 2020 Senior Bowl, but despite a lot of time warming up and working against air, there were a few prospect performances worth noting.

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love was the headliner, showing off his cannon of an arm in what was a clear display of starting-quarterback talent. Compared to fellow North team quarterbacks Shea Patterson (Michigan) and Anthony Gordon (Washington State), Love looked like the only quarterback who's capable of succeeding in the NFL. It wasn't even close.

Love has an effortless throwing motion. His passes are crisp, accurate and on a rope. Was he perfect? No. But he had the most impressive arm of the day. His first-round hype is very real and will only continue to build momentum as the week goes on.

RELATED: Here's who Bears scouts are watching at the Senior Bowl

As for Patterson and Gordon? Bears fans need to temper their excitement for both of them. Patterson's quirky throwing motion looks labored and forced while Gordon's slight frame and underwhelming arm strength scream backup at best.

Tight end Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) had a quiet first practice. His opportunities to make plays were limited. But he'll need a strong finish to the week to maintain his standing as the top tight end at the Senior Bowl.

One player Bears fans should highlight as a name to watch is Michigan offensive lineman Ben Bredeson. He looked the part on Tuesday. He has strong hands and the kind of powerful playing style that tends to lead to success in the NFL. He showed pretty good feet, too. He has a chance to rise up the board if he stacks two more positive practices together.

On the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse edge rusher Alton Robinson flashed in drills. He showed a good first step and violent hands at the point of attack. He won several reps with ease. The Bears have to add pass-rush help in the middle rounds, and Robinson looks like a quality prospect worth keeping an eye on.

Ohio State defensive lineman Davon Hamilton had a nice day, too. He was almost unblockable at times and practiced with a level of intensity that scouts are certain to like. While not a need in Chicago, Hamilton looks like a player whose value could trump need come draft day. 

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Jalen Hurts underwhelms in first Senior Bowl practice

Jalen Hurts underwhelms in first Senior Bowl practice

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, a prospect pegged as a potential option for the Bears in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, struggled in his first Senior Bowl practice of the week, failing to throw with consistency or accuracy when targeting his South squad receivers.

This isn't an uncommon occurrence for quarterbacks participating in the Senior Bowl. It could take a few practices to develop rhythm and timing with a completely new set of pass-catchers, but there was a marked difference in Hurts' ball placement compared to fellow South team quarterback, Oregon's Justin Herbert.

RELATED: Who will the Bears be watching at the 2020 Senior Bowl?

Herbert is projected to be a top-10 pick, and while his footwork in bag drills didn't look anything remotely close to that high of a grade, his arm talent was (for the most part) on display throughout the practice.

The Bears' biggest draft needs center around tight end and offensive line, and there were a few obvious standouts from those position groups.

LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan was the most fluid and explosive route-runner on the South team which includes the likes of Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt) and Harrison Bryant (FAU). His wide receiver background was evident; he created easy separation and flashed the kind of downfield speed that will be an asset in the NFL. 

Pinkney, on the other hand, really struggled. He looked heavy-footed and forced his quarterback to make tight-window throws. It wasn't a great start for him.

One of the really interesting names to monitor over the next few days is Ben Bartch, the Saint John's offensive lineman who's making one of the biggest jumps in competition among all of this year's Senior Bowl participants. You wouldn't know it by how he performed on Tuesday, however. He was quick out of his stance, showed strong hands and a powerful base. He's going to be a riser from this game.

The best player on the field, bar none, was South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw. He has a chance to jump into the top-10 with a strong week of practice, and if his first session was any indication of how this week is going to go, his stock is going to skyrocket. He was unblockable, including several reps where he bullied potential Bears target John Simpson (guard, Clemson) in one-on-ones. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.