Bears

Bears Grades: High marks across the board

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Bears Grades: High marks across the board

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011Posted: 5:30 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
A 30-12 win over the winningest team in the 2010 NFC couldve been even more lopsided for a Bears team that rates high marks in nearly every area.

QUARTERBACK A

Jay Cutler both managed the game and attacked the Falcons, completing 22-of-32 passes for 312 yards and 2 TDs despite pressure that sacked him five times and hit him on six other occasions, once enough to shake him up. He was accurate with mid-range throws to wide receivers and also got rid of throws quickly for the most part, although two sacks might have been avoided by throwing the ball away. His passing was even better than the 107.8 rating as his one interception was a batted ball.

RUNNING BACK B

Matt Forte turned short passes into 23- and 56-yard plays, the latter a first-quarter TD with broken tackles and exquisite open-field moves, with fullback Tyler Clutts providing a solid downfield block. Forte averaged 4.3 yards per carry and led the Bears with 5 catches for 90 yards to go with 68 rushing yards. Kahlil Bell carried 10 times for just 24 yards, Chester Taylor-like numbers, but controlled the ball against tough hitting to give Forte needed rest.
RECEIVERS A-

Devin Hester turned a flanker screen into a 53-yard gain that came up a yard short of the end zone and caught two other passes. Roy Williams caught all four of the passes thrown to him, totaling 55 yards before he strained a groin while signaling a first down. Williams blocked well downfield and sustained a first-quarter drive with a 23-yard catch on third down. Johnny Knoxs downfield blocking was key on the Forte TD pass in the first quarter and Williams provided a strong downfield block on Hesters twisting catch-and-run in the third quarter.

Tight end Matt Spaeth caught both balls thrown to him, one for a 1-yard TD in the third quarter when the Bears were putting the game away. Kellen Davis caught two passes, blocked adequately but turned a defensive end loose on the hit that shook Cutler up badly.

OFFENSIVE LINE B
Jay Cutler was sacked three times in the first half, five times in all, but the line was hurt by excellent coverage that forced Cutler to hold onto the ball too long. Chris Spencer was pressed into service at right guard when Lance Louis was injured in the second quarter. JMarcus Webb was called for two holding penalties in the fourth quarter to wipe out sizeable gains. But against consistently strong pressure, the line handled the Falcons front adequately, although Atlanta posted an alarming 11 tackles for loss.
DEFENSIVE LINE A

Henry Meltons sack, supported by Israel Idonije, created a near-safety in the second quarter. Melton added a second sack in the fourth quarter and was a dominant presence with seven QB hits and two tackles for loss. Julius Peppers had a sack of Matt Ryan that turned into a fumble that was recovered and taken in for a TD by Brian Urlacher. Peppers also recovered a fumble to thwart an Atlanta drive, deflected a pass that led to a five-yard loss, forced a holding penalty on left tackle Sam Baker, and sacked Ryan on a two-point conversion. Nick Reed turned in a crucial pass defense on a third down inside the 10 to force a field goal. Amobi Okoye sacked Ryan late in the third quarter.

LINEBACKERS A

Brian Urlachers diving interception stopped one Falcons possession and was followed by the Forte TD in the first quarter. His pickup of the Matt Ryan fumble in the third quarter was even more dramatic, going in for a TD that put the Bears up 30-6 in the third quarter. The defense allowed just two field goals overall and Urlacher was initially credited with a team-high 10 tackles, one for loss, and a pass deflection. Atlanta rushed for 110 yards but 53 of that came on one carry.

SECONDARY A

Major Wrights hit and Charles Tillmans strip forced a fumble by Michael Turner. D.J. Moores blitz forced Matt Ryan to throw his first-quarter interception. Tillmans tackling was poor in spots but his third-down pass deflection was a key stop in the second quarter. Ryan threw 47 passes but the coverage contributed to the lines 5 sacks. Roddy White (8-61) and Julio Jones (5-71) are as dangerous as their billing but the secondarys overall tackling was solid and did not allow either receiver into the end zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS A

Robbie Goulds field goal from 41 yards gave the Bears their first points of the 2011 season and he added two more from in close to get some sort of points off thwarted red-zone possessions. Goulds five touchbacks forced the Falcons to operate from a long field and his second-quarter kickoff 5 yards deep was turned into excellent field position by a Corey Graham tackle at the Atlanta 15. Penalties by Graham and Craig Steltz on kickoff returns were costly in field position. Adam Podlesh averaged 48 yards gross and 46.3 net on 6 punts.

COACHING A

Play design by Mike Martz had receivers wide open in the first quarter, using mis-direction and delays. A back-side throwback should have been a TD as well but for a Cutler overthrow of a wide-open Kellen Davis. The Bears ran the ball 27 times vs. 37 pass plays but MartzCutler threw 14 passes to backs and tight ends to take advantage of defenders committed to stopping the run. Rod Marinelli had the defense prepared to handle Atlantas offensive firepower being run at the Bears in a no-huddle attack. Dave Toubs coverage teams allowed the Falcons just 3.3 yards on 3 punt returns and 16.5 yards per on the only two of seven kickoffs Gould allowed the Falcons to return.

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.

Arena League Revenge and Great Boxing: How the Bears are getting ready for their rematch

Arena League Revenge and Great Boxing: How the Bears are getting ready for their rematch

What a difference 24 hours makes. 

Here’s Mitch Trubisky, from his weekly Wednesday press conference, talking about the Bears-Packers rivalry. 

“I mean, the rivalry is important for sure,” he said. “The rivalry is very important. But I just feel like where we're at as a team, we're just hungry, that whoever is on our schedule next, we're going to come ready to play where we're playing with confidence. We don't really care who shows up next. The rivalry game is important, but I just sense overall a hungry team that's pretty focused, and hopefully that just drives us to get better throughout the week and come ready to play on Sunday.” 

How diplomatic! Despite this Sunday’s game in Green Bay being the 200th meeting between two of the NFL’s original franchises, there’s been a surprisingly large amount of water thrown on the whole notion of rivalry games around Halas Hall this week. That is, until Thursday. When Nagy was asked about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who’s returning to Green Bay for the first time since being traded last year, the coach wasted no time showing that time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. 

“I mean, on a much smaller spectrum, I've been traded away as a player,” Nagy said. “And I know what that feels like when you play them again. To each their own. I'm sure he'll be fired up. But it's a personal deal with him. I know he'll be focused there to help his defense out.” 

Nagy, of course, is talking about the earth-shattering Arena Football League trade that sent him from the Georgia Force to the Columbus Destroyers in 2007. Nagy got his shot at revenge in the playoffs, when he took the 6-seed Destroyers (7-9) into the Arena at Gwinnett Center and beat the 2-seed Force (14-2), 66-56. Nagy was 23-of-34 for 209 yards and five touchdowns. 

“We played them in the NFC championship game of the Arena League, and we dominated them!” he said. “I'll never forget that game.” 

The Bears now seem happy to embrace the revenge narrative, among a half dozen other motivational colloquialisms they’ve adopted during this three-game win streak. On offense, they’re trying to avoid watching too much of Week 1’s loss, and schematically speaking that’s probably not a bad idea. On defense, they’re watching hand-to-hand combat. It's probably a little on the nose, but when is football not? 

“We like showing boxing stuff,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “You ever watch the Gatti-Ward fight, Round 9?”

Ring Magazine named the bout Fight of the Year in 2003, and Hall of Famer Manny Steward called that ninth round the “Round of the Century.” Micky Ward was a former prodigy who never quite fulfilled his potential, but he managed to find his way back into boxing after a hiatus spent paving roads and upset the heavily favored Arturo Gatti. Though he won by majority decision in 10 rounds, knocking Gotti down in the ninth is widely considered Ward’s crowning achievement – so much so that they got Mark Walhberg to play him in a movie.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but the Bears don’t need complete accuracy to find the motivation behind an underdog landing a late-round, knock-down blow. 

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Experts Picks: Ominous outlook for Bears in Week 15 vs. Packers

Experts Picks: Ominous outlook for Bears in Week 15 vs. Packers

Prior to the Bears' current three-game winning streak, the best-case scenario fans could've hoped for was meaningful December football.

Wish granted.

Entering Week 15's game against the Packers, Chicago is 7-6 and still alive in the NFC playoff race. Those playoff chances need some help via losses from the Vikings and Rams over the final three weeks of the regular season, but the Bears need to win-out before they can start watching the scoreboard. And if this week's collection of experts picks is any indication, scoreboard watching might never happen.

According to NFL Pick Watch, 93% of experts polled think the Packers are going to snag their 11th win of the season and send the Bears home for good on Sunday. It also means Green Bay would sweep the 2019 season series, giving its fanbase undeniable bragging rights and sending Bears fans hurdling into a brutal offseason.

Dating back to the 2016 season, Chicago has lost six of the last seven meetings against the Packers.

The Bears lost Week 1's matchup against Green Bay, 10-3, in a game that featured an undefined offense and a quarterback who didn't quite look like he belonged. Things have certainly changed over the last three weeks (all Bears wins), with Mitchell Trubisky being the obvious storyline.

Trubisky is riding a hot streak into Sunday's game and is fresh off his four-touchdown game (three passing, one rushing) against an above-average Cowboys defense.

Can he keep that momentum going in a do-or-die game against Chicago's most-hated rival? 

The experts certainly don't think so.

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