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Greg Gabriel: Grading the Chicago Bears win over the Arizona Cardinals

September 26, 2018

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Going into Sunday, many Bears fans thought this game would be a blowout — especially because Arizona had only scored once in its previous two games. That wasn’t the case, as the Bears had to come back from an early 14-0 deficit in order to pull out the win. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win on the road, which are difficult to come by in the NFL. The Bears are now 2-1 and all alone in first place of the NFC North, following Week 3 losses by the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

Quarterback

If we look at the raw numbers, it appears Mitch Trubisky had a fairly good day. He completed 24-of-35 passes for 220 yards and one interception. The numbers don’t tell the true story, though.

Trubisky is struggling reading blitzes, finding the hot receiver and getting the ball out of his hand. He also had trouble with the deep ball, completing only two of seven deep throws in the game. His only interception was because of a lackadaisical throw.

The question I now have is whether Mitch is having problems with processing what he sees at the line of scrimmage. With a high-powered Tampa Bay offense coming to town next week, Trubisky has to make dramatic improvement in his game, as the offense needs to put up more points each week.

Grade: C

Running Back

The numbers weren’t that good with 31 rushing attempts for 122 yards and a 3.9-yard average per carry. While there were some big plays, there were also too many attempts that were stopped for a loss. Looking at the tape, the backs can’t be blamed. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard also combined for five total receptions. Still, the Bears’ run game has to improve if the offense is going to be successful.

Grade: B

Wide Receivers

The WR corps accounted for 14 catches and 121 yards. That just isn’t good enough. Granted some of the problems were on Trubisky, whose accuracy and ball placement was off. At other times, the Bears receives just weren’t getting open. The offense as a whole has to improve. The good news is there were no dropped passes. The bad news is rookie Anthony Miller left the game with a dislocated shoulder and is considered day to day. Taylor Gabriel is getting touches, but we haven’t seen the big-play ability that he possesses.

Grade: C+

Tight Ends

After three games, it has become very apparent that injured Adam Shaheen was going to be a big part of this offense and he is missed. Trey Burton played well with four receptions for 55 yards, and he is becoming a bigger part of the offense. In the run game, the Bears aren’t getting the blocking they need from the TE position. Neither Ben Braunecker nor Dion Sims did much.

Grade: C+

Offensive Line

I felt that the line played an inconsistent game. Yes, they looked great on some run plays, but there were also far too many running plays that were stopped for a loss. Granted, the Arizona defense attacked on both run and pass plays and blitzed far more than it did in the first two games, causing problems for both the line and quarterbacks.

The line had trouble with the blitzes that Arizona brought, but some of the fault goes to Trubisky for not reading the blitz and getting the ball out to the hot receiver quickly enough. Still, three sacks is too many to give up. Like the rest of the offense, it’s time for the Bears’ line to show improvement.

Grade: C+

Defensive Line

After the first quarter, the defense dominated. The Arizona offense only had the ball for 23:39. The Bears defense forced four Arizona turnovers, and a lot of that was the byproduct of the D-line. The Bears allowed just 53 yards on the ground, and with the line getting consistent penetration, the run lanes were stuffed. Once again, Akiem Hicks came up big with an early strip-sack and four total tackles. Rookie Bilal Nichols had a huge tackle for loss on a third-down play late in the game. While the line technically only accounted for one of the Bears’ four sacks, it created consistent pressure throughout the game.

Outside Linebacker

Khalil Mack has only been a Bear for three games, yet in all three game he has come up with big plays. He had two sacks and five total tackles in Arizona. On the negative side, Mack got caught out of position on a crossing route and gave up a big play on the Cardinals’ opening-possession scoring drive. He also had an offsides penalty that negated a pick-six by Eddie Jackson on the Cardinals’ final drive

Leonard Floyd got the big club taken off, and it was thought that he would now show a better pass rush. But he was pretty much a non-factor with only one recorded tackle. Floyd played strong at the point — he just didn’t make plays. Once again, Aaron Lynch flashed, showing that he is a valuable addition to the defense.

Grade: B+

Inside Linebacker

Except for a screwup in coverage on the Cardinals’ opening possession, the Bears’ inside linebackers played well. Roquan Smith recorded his first NFL sack, and both Danny Trevathan and Smith were consistently strong vs. both the run and the pass. Their speed is noticeable all the time, making it difficult for opponents to get outside. Throw out the opening drive, where there were some coverage breakdowns, and the Bears’ LB corps was very good.

Grade: A-

Corners

This one is easy: the starting corners (Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller) played their best game of the year. Also, nickel Bryce Callahan played very well with strong coverage and a late interception of Josh Rosen. Amukamara came out late in the third quarter with a hamstring issue and was replaced by rookie Kevin Toliver. Toliver looked like a rookie when he was bested by a double move on a deep ball, but the play ended up not being damaging. Toliver played the underneath routes fairly well but still gave up a bit too much cushion. For the second week in a row, Sherrick McManis played when the Bears used four corners, and came up big. I thought the Cardinals would go after Fuller deep, but they didn’t and he played very well in short coverage.

Grade: A-

Safeties

The Bears are only using two safeties in most of their packages, bringing in extra corners for their subpackages. The S duo of Eddie Jackson and Arian Amos again played very well. Jackson showed range and ball reactions coming from the middle of the field to get an interception on a deep flag route. He also returned an interception for a touchdown late, but the play was called back because of a Bears offsides. Amos just plays a consistent game in both run support and coverage. Neither player gets caught out of position.

Grade: A

Special Teams

Coverage on punts and kickoffs was very good, as was the blocking on punt returns. The only glitch was Cody Parkey pushing his first FG attempt wide right. That’s miss that shouldn’t happen, but it didn’t hurt the Bears, who saw Parkey connect on his final three attempts.

Grade: B

— Greg Gabriel

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