By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) Here are my grades following the Bears’ 23-6 win over the Rams Sunday:
Offense – C
Lovie Smith gave the Rams’ defense a lot of credit after the game, and they deserve it, but there’s still a lot the Bears’ offense needs to improve on. Cutler was happy with how the offensive line played in front of him, yet he didn’t play as well as he can, completing 17-of-31 passes for 183 yards and quarterback rating of 58.9. Once the Rams adjusted and loaded up on the run early, the Bears should have been able to pass better than they did. Whether it was drops by the receivers or Cutler not putting the ball where it needed to be, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the passing game.
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Brandon Marshall looked good with five catches and 71 yards, while Alshon Jeffery was a key contributor too, finishing with five catches and 45 yards. Michael Bush filled in nicely for Matt Forte, posting 55 yards on 18 carries, but overall, Bears running backs averaged just 2.7 yards per carry.
Defense – A
It’s hard to put up a better defensive performance in the NFL, but every once in a while there are the ridiculous memorable shutdown performances, which is the only reason why this grade is not an A+. The Bears limited the Rams to just 59 yards rushing and 160 total net yards on the day. At halftime, I gave the unit an A- just because it didn’t have any takeaways yet, but not only did the Bears come up with two interceptions in the second half, Major Wright scored a touchdown on one of them.
The Bears have two positive story lines that should get talk around the entire league. One of those stories is the play of cornerback Tim Jennings and the other is the play of the defensive line, which already has 14 sacks after finishing 29th in that category a year ago. Jennings now has four interceptions on the year and while his technique is not always perfect, there isn’t a cornerback in the league playing as well as him. Meanwhile, the defensive line is playing well as a whole, especially the defensive tackles. Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Amobi Okoye are a great complement inside to Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije. Rookie Shea McClellin once again made himself noticed.
Special Teams – B+
Devin Hester continues to be a block or two away from breaking one for a touchdown and, overall, the unit isn’t making any big mistakes. Punter Adam Podlesh is improving off his hip flexor injury and kicker Robbie Gould is just doing what he always does — make kicks. With all the turnover, Dave Toub’s unit could have been a disaster, but he’s once again put together a solid group. He’ll want to see them continue to improve though and spring Hester more.
Coaching – B+
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli called an excellent game, which is always easier when the defensive line is getting the pressure it did Sunday. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice made the necessary adjustments to ease the pressure on the left side of the offensive line, but I still think he can do a better job with the play calling. He called seven pass plays to just three run plays on the first drive the game, including three straight passes after the Bears got a free first down on a boneheaded personal foul by the Rams. He’s still feeling out this offense and should get better.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.