Bears

Bears Grades vs. Packers: Efficiency, no turnovers get the job done

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Bears Grades vs. Packers: Efficiency, no turnovers get the job done

Quarterbacks

Jay Cutler has had better games statistically, than the 19-for-31 passing for 200 yards, a TD and 90.8 rating. He overthrew Marquess Wilson open behind single coverage on the first possession and later was nearly intercepted by Quinten Reynolds while scrambling. He was long and late throwing to Alshon Jeffery in the end zone in the second quarter when Jeffery had broken open against single coverage.

But Cutler was victimized by two costly drops on high-percentage throws. And he out-played Aaron Rodgers to win the one matchup that the Bears rarely do vs. the Green Bay Packers. Cutler kept his composure under pressure from a Green Bay blitz, stepping out of an ankle grab and buying time for Zach Miller to work open for a TD in the second quarter.

[MORE: Bears' victory in Green Bay more than just a 'W' for Cutler]

“He was able to stay poised and mentally tough through all that, leader of the offense,” said tackle Kyle Long. “It really wasn’t going our way early but just to stay the course was a testament to Jay’s mental toughness and leadership abilities.”

Moon's Grade: A 

Running backs

The Bears committed to the run, just didn’t do it especially well, again not getting 100 rushing yards out of their tailbacks, although both Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford did solid work in blitz pickup against a Dom Capers defense that brought myriad blitz packages at Jay Cutler and his protections.

Forte returned to the starting lineup and played 37 of the Bears’ 67 snaps, vs. 30 for Langford, the two combining for 92 rushing yards in a workmanlike but not particularly dominant offensive game. Langford was the more effective, with 48 yards on 12 carries vs. Forte’s 44 on 15 (2.9 ypc.).

Langford’s pass receiving was a problem. The rookie dropped a third-down pass with running room in front of him in the second quarter, and juggled away a screen pass in the third, bobbling the ball up in the air and nearly into the hands of Packers.

But Langford was in the game at pivotal points and has moved into what is effectively a shared role with Forte as the primary back.

Moon's Grade: C+

Wide receivers

Operating without injured tight end Martellus Bennett and Eddie Royal (again, fourth straight game), Bears receivers gave a creditable performance overall with second-tier personnel making key contributions at crucial times.

“You look at a Marc Mariani, I mean he’s a guy who just stepped in and made big catches, big plays on third down,” said coach John Fox. “You know, Jay does a great job of buying time to let guys come free. Getting Alshon [Jeffery] back was big, you know, looking at guys in that locker room who maybe not had great success here, they included, were fun to watch.”

Jeffery was a game-time decision (groin, shoulder) but caught 7 of the 11 balls thrown his way, with a long of 22 yards and 90 yards total against physical press coverage particularly from cornerback Sam Shields. Jeffery also had a 21-yarder in the third quarter that was undone by a succession of penalties and breakdowns but gave the Bears some field position on their first drive of the second half.

[RELATED: Could Bears' win over Packers become a turning point?]

Zach Miller scored on a three-yard pass in the second quarter, working into open space on a delayed route out of a three-receiver grouping, giving the Bears a much-needed answer to Green Bay’s first-quarter touchdown.

Khari Lee started in place of Bennett and lost a chance for a first down when he lost his footing with running room on the Bears’ first possession. Lee was flagged for a false start on a first down at the Chicago 10 on the Bears’ second possession, worsening a hole the offense did not need and setting up a second three-and-out to start their game.

Moon's Grade: A-

Offensive line

The Bears weren’t able to gain consistent advantages at points of attack in the run game but pass protection limited a blitzing Green Bay defense to one sack and three other hits on Jay Cutler, allowing Cutler to operate without being forced to run for his life.

Cutler did get into stern words in the third quarter after tripping and holding penalties plus a sack destroyed a promising drive at the start of the third quarter but otherwise the line held up respectably.

Kyle Long was generally solid against Julius Peppers primarily in solo blocking against the Green Bay sack leader. Jermon Bushrod delivered some solid run blocking as a sixth offensive lineman in a “heavy” personnel package.

Charles Leno Jr. held his own against Clay Matthews in rush situations, with the Packers needing a corner blitz to overwhelm the protection on Leno’s side.

The Bears were able to rush for 189 yards and 5.1 per carry in game one against Green Bay but only 101 and 3.3 this time.

Moon's Grade: B-

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

 BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Dear Tolliver clan:
 
I think most of you were there at practice today in your “Toliver II 33” T-shirts, including the three little guys in their “K. T. II Cousin” T’s. That’s pretty amazing support for an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback out of LSU, so you know I just had to intercept another pass for you guys, after the two yesterday. This one was off Tyler Bray throwing a ball to Anthony Miller, a rookie wide receiver who’s playing like anything but a rookie. Miller has amazing speed and is catching balls all over the field and having fun with the crowd. He stopped short of the end zone after one long catch, fans started yelling for him to score, so he backtracked fast and broke the plane of the goal line. Fans loved it.
 
Anthony made a diving catch 45 yards downfield off a throw from Chase Daniel (I won’t say against whom) and Mitch Trubisky and I think half the offense sprinted downfield to give him high-fives. Lotta energy on that side of the football. 
 
And we had some great defensive moments, too. Prince Amukamara broke and nearly intercepted at Mitch pass to Kevin White, and Bryce Callahan broke up one to Josh Bellamy one play later.
 
Meanwhile, the fans loved just about everything, this being the first practice the public could watch. They were even cheering completions in drills, especially Tarik Cohen, who seems like everybody’s favorite. They loved it (and so did the players) when tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride was up tight on guys to simulate press coverage and got faked right off his feet by Trey Burton working his release. But it was all in good fun, and Trey is a tough cover for us DB’s, let alone a coach.
 
Speaking of “coach,” coach Nagy said some nice things about me after practice, saying I’d flashed a few times and gotten turnovers, and “we stressed takeaways on defense and having interceptions is important. [Kevin’s] done that now the last couple of days. Kevin’s a big kid. He’s a tall, rangy, lengthy corner that really almost looks like a safety. So for him to be able to move around out here, it’s about getting confidence. So any time he gets some interceptions, you’re going to build confidence.”
 
Coach Nagy said he needs to see me do it in pads, and we go in pads tomorrow for the first time. The hitting’ll really start then.
 
[signed] Your favorite family cornerback,
 
Kevin

 
Wanted: QB accuracy
 
Improving on the 59.4-percent completion rate he posted as a rookie was a prime directive for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but Saturday’s session was not a step in the right direction. Trubisky completed less than half of his throws in two 7-on-7 sessions that normally favor the quarterback and receiver. His accuracy rate was no better in the first full-team session but in the second he completed eight of 10, two for touchdowns.
 
Whether the issues were throwing accuracy, route-running or combination of elements wasn’t easily apparent, and coach Matt Nagy did not seem concerned.
 
“There’s going to be a lot of mistakes made out here; that’s what training camp’s all about,” Nagy said.
 
*                          *                          *
Sick bay
 
Guard Kyle Long, coming back from multiple surgeries, was given the first of his scheduled days off on Saturday. Veteran Earl Watford stepped in at right guard. Linebacker Danny Trevathan remained out with a hamstring issue, as did cornerback Sherrick McManis.
 
More concerning was the absence of outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who injured a hamstring in Friday’s relatively light practice. It marked the third time this offseason that Lynch has been sidelined with injuries, following ankle and hamstring problems through OTA’s and minicamp.
 
*                          *                          *
 
It could happen….
 
Legendary NFL writer Peter King, who joined NBC Sports full time this year after nearly 30 years with Sports Illustrated, dropped by training camp as part of his annual “North American tour” and sat down for chats with this writer, which was a chance to recall some good times and stories as far back as Platteville. Peter and I did a little podcast that includes some Brian Urlacher, Mike Ditka and other tales, as well as Peter’s assessment of the Bears’ situation.
 
Interestingly, Peter does not rule out a season with as many as 10 W’s, despite being in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions with a first-year combination of coach-quarterback-system.
 
It could happen…..
 

 

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below: