Bears

Bears Grades: Marquess Wilson steps up for depleted WR corps

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Bears Grades: Marquess Wilson steps up for depleted WR corps

An enigmatic day for a star-crossed group that ended in spectacular fashion with Marquess Wilson catching a 22-yard pass from Jay Cutler late in the fourth quarter to set the stage for a winning Cutler-to-Matt Forte touchdown pass 3 minutes later. Some superb work by one player, not so superb by some others and not enough production early in a winnable game.

Through most of the first half and even into the third quarter, a corps depleted with Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal inactive with injuries gave Cutler very little in the way of separation. That very likely lay behind part of coordinator Adam Gase taking few shots down the field against a Kansas City defense that increasingly stacked the box and defied the Bears to beat it one-on-one almost anywhere throwing.

[MORE GRADES: Cutler leads Bears to another comeback win]

Wilson produced one of his best-ever games, better as it went along as Cutler’s confidence appeared to grow as Wilson worked against the Chiefs secondary.

“A quarterback always gains trust when a guy catches the ball,” Wilson said, laughing. “Drops lose confidence, but I think it’s getting higher.”

High enough that it was to Wilson that Cutler went against late double coverage from the Kansas City 22. “It was just a ‘corner’ [route],” Wilson said. “I got out of my break and saw the ball in the air. I knew I just had to get there. I knew I had to get it.”

If there was an unpleasant surprise it was tight end Martellus Bennett catching just four of the 11 passes directed to him, with Bennett dropping two balls, one on the final drive that went for a touchdown but needed to overcome a Bennett drop deep in Kansas City’s end.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Bennett was not alone in costly drops. Josh Bellamy caught four passes in the third quarter but let a long first-down pass go through his hands in the fourth quarter, and was injured on the hit just after the ball went incomplete.

A false start by tight end Zach Miller pushed the Bears back near their own goal line in the first quarter, from where a sack and forced fumble gave the Chiefs a first touchdown.

Moon's Grade: B+

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”