Bears Grades: Inconsistent linebacker unit rallies in fourth quarter


Bears Grades: Inconsistent linebacker unit rallies in fourth quarter

A depleted San Diego offense was able to exploit linebackers early, averaging 5 yards per carry in the first half and getting the ball to tight end Antonio Gates and running back Danny Woodhead for yardage and a touchdown. But the overall is that the defense tightened in the second half, shut out the Chargers in the fourth quarter and adjusted well as the game went on.

Working against former Oakland teammate and right tackle Joe Barksdale, Lamarr Houston had a dominant game. Houston was able to get home around the right edge of the San Diego for a sack, then was called for offsides two plays later. He made up for it with a second sack to create a third-and-23 in the final two minutes. Houston cost the Bears possession when he was offside on an earlier third-and-5, giving the Chargers another set of downs.

Houston delivered two additional quarterback hits besides two solo tackles. Pernell McPhee was credited with two solo tackles and three quarterback hits.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The exact breakdown in coverage was difficult to pin down on Danny Woodhead’s first-quarter touchdown catch. Sam Acho dropped off initially into zone coverage, allowing Woodhead to run completely free on a wheel route after the Bears’ deep support was covering elsewhere in man-to-man coverage.

Christian Jones turned in a pass breakup against Antonio Gates in the fourth quarter, then completely lost Gates for a 40-yard gain that set the Chargers up for a field goal after the Bears had closed to 16-14. Gates got loose in the end zone for a touchdown that was nullified for an offensive lineman being across the line.

By game’s end, Jones was replaced by rookie Jonathan Anderson, who was wearing the audio receiver in his helmet as the signal-caller on defense.

The Chargers were able to average 5 yards per carry in the first half but got away from running the ball in the second half as the Bears rallied to the football, holding the Chargers to 22 rushing haves in the second half.

Moon's Game Grade: B+ 

Losing middle linebacker Shea McClellin set the cohesion back, and former ends Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young provided very little before Houston’s breakout performance at San Diego. Acho had won one outside spot in training camp before becoming ill and missing time; he is back starting but doing little in pass rush.

[MORE: MNF win over Chargers a 'starting point' for Bears playoff run?]

McPhee is playing at a Pro Bowl level with 5 sacks but no other linebacker has played with consistent impact.

Moon's Mid-year Grade: C

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

"Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. I’m not putting anybody in (LT’s) class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor."

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

UPDATE: shocker, LT agrees: 

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

The Bears have seemingly dodged a bullet, for now. 

Following Tuesday's announcement that Khalil Mack would undergo further tests on the right ankle injury he sustained during Sunday's loss, Bears head coach had more optimistic news on Wednesday:

It could obviously get a lot worse than a day-to-day diagnosis, though not practicing on Wednesday might raise some eyebrows. 

It sounds like Mack is expected to be a go for Sunday's matchup with the Patriots, though as the Bears saw with the Dolphins' QB situation last week, things can change in a heartbeat.