Hoge’s Grades: Bears Defense Lost The Game Twice
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By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) Here are my grades following the Bears’ 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday:
Is it possible for just two players to carry an entire offense? On the Bears, it’s Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall — and that’s it. Marshall caught 10 passes for 165 yards Sunday and other than one bad throw to Michael Bush when he would have had an easy first down, Cutler was brilliant. The 56-yard bullet he threw to Marshall to help force overtime was one of the biggest plays he has made for the Bears. Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t take advantage of the extra life Cutler gave them.
But as good as Cutler and Marshall are, that’s how bad the rest of the offense is. Matt Forte is doing next to nothing, despite the Bears making a big effort early to funnel the offense through him. Forte finished with just 66 yards on 21 carries, an average of 3.1 yards a carry. Meanwhile, Earl Bennett dropped a sure 63-yard touchdown pass, although he suffered a concussion before the drop and that may have been a factor.
The makeshift offensive line wasn’t bad, but Cutler was still scrambling a lot. If Jason Campbell had been playing, the Bears would have been in a ton of trouble because he wouldn’t have been able to move his feet like Cutler did Sunday.
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While the offense wasn’t perfect, the Bears had a lead and the defense had numerous chances to ice the game. They missed tackles all afternoon and had absolutely no answer for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Some of it was age, some of it was fatigue, but there were plenty of young guys who failed to make plays, including safety Major Wright when he dropped an interception on Seattle’s final drive of regulation.
The Bears’ bend-but-don’t-break defense worked until the very end, when it completely shattered. What’s worse, key injuries were suffered as Tim Jennings (shoulder) and Brian Urlacher (hamstring) left the game late.
The Bears really missed Chris Conte, who was ill. Craig Steltz did not play well at all.
Special Teams: C+
It was a relatively quiet day for the Bears’ special teams unit and in Chicago, that means it wasn’t a good day. Robbie Gould sent the game to overtime with a 45-yard field goal and Adam Podlesh came up with a great punt to pin the Seahawks back at their own three yard line in the final minutes. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t take advantage.
Otherwise, Podlesh was inconsistent on the day and nothing happened in the return game with Devin Hester out. In fact, Eric Weems muffed a punt in the first half but recovered.
To his credit, Lovie Smith was very critical of himself, admitting he should have settled for the field goal in the first half instead of going for it on fourth down. Of course, he also said he would do it again. Lovie called it a big play in the game, and he’s right.
Mike Tice’s game plan was once again good enough to get the win. He has dialed it back, committing to the run. Even though running has not been very effective, the plan is still giving the Bears’ a chance to win. Sunday, the defense just didn’t cooperate.
Rod Marinelli will say he didn’t do enough to get the Bears ready for Russell Wilson and the read-option, but Sunday’s problems were more about a lack of execution on defense than a lack of planning.
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.