The 2010 Chicago Bears’ season went better than the early signs indicated. After a bye week that included a refocusing of the offensive attack, the Bears thrived down the stretch and made it to the Conference Championship game.
Here are position by position grades for the 2010 Bears:
Safeties: B. A trade brought Chris Harris back to the team that drafted him back in 2005. Harris had a good year, earning All-Pro second team honors and recording a career-high five INT’s. Danieal Manning had a solid season and rookie Major Wright showed flashed of potential, but injuries were the biggest deterrent in his first year.
Cornerbacks: B. Charles Tillman continues to be a good NFL defensive back. His ability to force turnovers cannot be over looked. Tim Jennings may have been the biggest surprise of the season. Jennings took over for an ineffective Zach Bowman and never looked back. Second-year player D.J. Moore was a solid nickle back.
Linebackers: A-. As always, the linebackers were stellar for the Bears. Brian Urlacher’s return after a full year out proved to be a bigger boost than expected. Urlacher and Lance Briggs put together Pro-Bowl seasons and Pisa Tinoisamoa was a solid run defender when healthy.
Tackles: B. The interior of the defensive line was headlined by Matt Toeaina and Anthony Adams. Tommie Harris chipped in with good games and good stretches. The defense ranked second in the league in stopping the run, in large part to the efforts by the interior linemen.
Ends: A. The presence and impact of Julius Peppers was felt immediately. Peppers may not have had his best season when it comes to sacking the quarterback, only eight sacks on the year, but he may have been the best defensive player in the NFL. Israel Idonije was a pleasant surprise opposite Peppers, and Corey Wootton looked like a solid player in his rookie season.
Quarterback B. The last memory of Jay Cutler from the 2010 season might not be the best. But overall Cutler was impressive because he lowered his interceptions by 10, while being sacked more times than his first three season in the NFL combined. Caleb Hanie looks like a solid backup if the Bears can re-sign him, and Todd Collins probably won’t be back with the team.
Linemen: D-. The line was probably the most criticized group of Bears all season long. They allowed Cutler to be sacked 56 times, second worst in team history, and gave up 49 tackles for a loss. Despite all the negatives, late season improvement saved them from an F grade.
Tight ends: C+. Greg Olsen was a good redzone threat but disappeared at times during the regular season. He was great in the playoffs, but failed to play at a high level for the full season. Brandon Manumaleuna wasn’t a factor in the passing or running games.
Wide receivers: C. Devin Hester probably didn’t have the season that most wanted to see from him as the Bears No. 1 receiver. However, Johnny Knox made great strides in his second season and just missed out on a 1,000 yards season. Earl Bennett looks like a very solid possession receiver who plays well in the clutch.
Running backs: B. In his third year, Matt Forte got back to where he was as a rookie. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry, more than any Bears starter since Neal Anderson in 1989. Chester Taylor was limited to short-yardage and goal-line situations and his numbers reflected this.
Returners: A. What more is there to say, Hester set the NFL’s all-time record for both career return TDs (14) as well as punt-return average (17.1). He was a game altering returner, like he has been in past seasons. The Bears had the league’s best starting field position, which was a direct result of both Hester and Manning.
Kickers B-. Robbie Gould was as good as always and proved that he’s more than just an accurate kicker. Gould set career bests for long field goals and touchbacks. While Brad Maynard started the season well, he faltered as the season moved on.