By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) — It may have happened against the worst defense in the NFL, but not surprisingly, the Bears graded out very well in their 45-28 win over the Dallas Cowboys Monday night.
Also not a surprise: most of the positive grades were on offense and most of the negative grades were on defense.
Let’s take a look at the five highest and lowest rated players Monday night:
Five Highest Grades
WR Brandon Marshall — The wide receiver posted his best grade of the season and not just because he caught six passes for 100 yards. Marshall put together one of the best blocking performances by a wide receiver you’ll ever see. The Bears have a luxury with the blocking ability of Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett and it’s becoming more and more obvious that the Bears are building their offense around it. Many teams in the NFL simply can’t do some of the things the Bears are doing because they don’t have blockers that far outside and that far downfield.
RT Jordan Mills — The right tackle had by far his best game of the season Monday night. I counted two pressures allowed, but otherwise Mills was as stout in pass protection as he has been all year. It was a positive step forward for the rookie, who has otherwise had an up-and-down season.
RB Matt Forte — Just an all-around good game for the Bears’ running back. Forte finished with 102 rushing yards and 73 receiving yards on seven catches. He was patient with his blockers and hit the holes hard, slipping multiple tackles at a time. Maybe his most impressive move of the game was in the final five minutes when he had the presence of mind to slide in-bounds to keep the clock running right after he got the first down.
RG Kyle Long — Long only accounted for one pressure allowed (by my count) and continued to be a mauler in the run game. When he gets his hands on a linebacker on the second level, it spells trouble for the defense.
LT Jermon Bushrod – The left tackle must love Monday Night Football. He had his best performance since the the Bears played in Green Bay last month. Bushrod dominated DeMarcus Ware for most of the night. He did allow a sack, but there appeared to be some confusion on the play as the screen was sniffed out on the other side of the line.
Now on to the defense:
Five Lowest Grades
DE Corey Wootton — This is the first time Wootton has ended up on this list all season, but he had a surprisingly quiet game Monday. Seeing the most reps at defensive end since early in the season, maybe Wootton was a little rusty, but he didn’t get after the quarterback and was turned around in the run game a couple times. Both Wootton and Julius Peppers struggled to set the edge Monday.
S Major Wright – It’s been said that Wright is a better option in pass coverage than Craig Steltz, but Wright struggled in that area against the Cowboys. He was targeted by Tony Romo frequently and allowed a touchdown.
MLB Jonathan Bostic – The middle linebacker appears to be doing better with his run fits, but he’s still getting blocked too much. Now that he knows where he’s supposed to be the focus will be on being stouter in his run gaps and shedding blocks. His awareness for the ball needs to improve too, but that will come with experience.
DE Shea McClellin – Same issues for McClellin, but this time with fewer snaps. The defensive end only played 31 snaps, which was 56 percent of them.
DT Stephen Paea – It’s surprising to see Paea on this list, but it turns out his injured toe was acting up during the game. The nose tackle only played 18 snaps and was ineffective while he was out there, clearly limited by the injury.
– Surprised not to see Alshon Jeffery among the five highest grades? Don’t worry, he had a great game and accounted for two elite-level catches, but the guys above graded out even better.
– As a unit, the offensive line had its best game of the season. The offensive line’s previous highest grade as a unit was against the Steelers in Week 3.
– Wide receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Zack Bowman both posted their highest grades of the season.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.