Bears

Bears Grades: Jeffery, tight ends step up in the clutch

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Bears Grades: Jeffery, tight ends step up in the clutch

Zach Miller’s first TD catch since 2011, a spectacular one-handed grab of a high-sailing throw from Jay Cutler, was good for a 25-yard touchdown with a little over three minutes to play. The score capped a comeback from a deficit of 13 points in the second quarter.

“I knew going into it,” Miller said. “I saw the coverage right away and I just had to get to a spot where the throw was going to be made. I didn’t want to get pushed too wide and lose leverage on the safety. Jay made a great throw. I just had to go get it.”

Martellus Bennett had catches for 12 and 17 yards in the first quarter, but his execution as an in-line blocker on his second-quarter TD catch was outstanding. Bennett sold the play with a power run block on play action to Jeremy Langford, then drifted into the flat where he was all alone.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“It was a play we worked on all week,” Bennett said. “I knew they were going to come down really quick once I put my hands on the end. Shed the end and get to the pylon, just the way it was drawn up.”

Bennett caught eight of the nine passes thrown to him for 57 yards while Miller’s was one of his two for the game.

After superb games against Detroit and Minnesota, Jeffery struggled early. He let a catchable third-down conversion get away in the second quarter when the Bears needed to sustain a third drive and had a second ball elude him in the first quarter.

But Cutler clearly was looking for him as the game unfolded, targeting him 16 times, of which Jeffery caught 10 to match his total from the Minnesota game. Jeffery’s total of 151 yards was the third-highest of his career.

Moon's Game Grade: A+ 

The receiver group has been hampered by injuries and occasional inconsistency, with flashes of excellence. Martellus Bennett has confirmed his place as one of the elite all-around tight ends, less visible at times than he was in the Marc Trestman offense and its throw-first philosophy.

Being without rookie Kevin White was a setback dating back before training camp, and injuries have conspired to make it that Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal have been active together for just three of the Bears’ eight games.

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

Jeffery’s return to the lineup has produced 28 catches and two touchdowns over the past three games.

“He’s a big-time receiver,” said coach John Fox. “This is our first year with him. It started a little slow with nagging injuries. He worked very hard to get back and he’s been a big part of our offense in the last three games. It sure helps when you have that kind of player out there.”

Marquess Wilson has failed to play up to expectations while Marc Mariani has quietly earned more playing time and more confidence from quarterback Jay Cutler.

Moon's Mid-year Grade: B

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel. The Bears lose a rough one in Miami as Matt Nagy goes conservative at the end zone. Does the rookie coach deserve all of the blame? Dave Wannstedt joins the guys to discuss.

Plus the guys discuss the Cubs’ newest hitting coach/scapegoat, Brandon Saad’s upcoming healthy scratch and Bobby Portis betting on himself this season. 

Listen here or in the embedded player below!

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.