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ARKUSH: Coaches, Bears did a wonderful job under unusual circumstances

Updated: December 20, 2013 6:33AM



The Bears-Ravens game was different.

I know I’m stating the obvious, but when grading the Bears’ individual performances against the Baltimore Ravens, it’s critical to consider the context created by the extreme weather conditions, miserable playing surface and the fact that both teams had to overcome a 1-hour, 53-minute delay.

Marc Trestman and his coaching staff get an A, in large part for the way they took advantage of the long delay, refocused their team and brought them back to win a game they almost lost in the first quarter.

Trestman is having a really good rookie year.

I also gave an A to the 46 players, as a team, for the way they responded to the conditions, the delay and all their injured teammates.

This is important because the individual grades, even allowing for the terrible weather, are a bit below what I was prepared for when I began reviewing the tape.

Quarterback Josh McCown gets a B. He took care of the football and made a few key plays when he had to, most importantly the 43-yard throw to Martellus Bennett in overtime.

But he also left more than a few plays on the field, some because of the conditions but some because he played very conservatively and because, athletically, McCown just can’t do everything that Jay Cutler can.

The running backs also get a B. Matt Forte had a nice bounce-back game after struggling against the Detroit Lions, but too much of his production is wrapped up in the 14-yard touchdown catch and two runs of 15 and 20 yards. His other 20 touches yielded 76 yards.

Also, Forte’s blocking has slipped this year and Michael Bush remains M.I.A.

The receivers get a B-. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery each had key drops. Marshall caught just four of the 10 balls thrown his way, Jeffery seven of 11.

Is it possible neither McCown nor Cutler like Earl Bennett. Or perhaps he just can’t get open anymore. You have to agree it’s more likely the latter.

Martellus Bennett can have an A or a C-. He is struggling with his blocking as he fights through injuries and he had two costly penalties that could merit the C-.

But I’m going with the A. He has fought through injuries most of the season and never complains. He plays with the kind of heart that wins championships and, if not for his big catch in overtime, they might still be playing.

The offensive line also gets a B. The unit did a nice job of protecting McCown as a group, but they are not blocking the run well enough on most plays. Jermon Bushrod, in particular, did a nice job on Terrell Suggs.

The defensive line gets a B+. When Julius Peppers takes over games, the entire defense can look different. That’s what happened against the Ravens. He was the best player on the field all day.

David Bass and Cheta Ozougwu had the biggest plays of their lives to complement Peppers. But the rest of the line struggled, and you can’t give up 174 yards rushing and expect to win games.

The linebackers get a C-. The aforementioned 174 rushing yards are the reason.

I’m giving the secondary a B-. Tim Jennings had a nice game, Chris Conte was a tad better than usual, Major Wright and Isaiah Frey weren’t and Zack Bowman has to get better.

Special teams get a B on the strength of Robbie Gould being perfect and getting the game-winner in spite of the horrible conditions.

This was easily the biggest victory of the season for the team, but only Peppers, Bushrod and Martellus Bennett stood out as individuals.

Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com.



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