Offensive grades: Did the coaches blow the game?


Offensive grades: Did the coaches blow the game?

Coach Lovie Smith said afterwards that he should have taken the field goal in the second quarter rather than go for it (unsuccessfully) on fourth and less than a yard. The decision may have been curious, but more was responsible for the Bears letting the Seattle Seahawks leave Soldier Field with a win.

The Bears could have been up 17-0 at the midpoint of the second quarter. But they eschewed a field goal and failed on a fourth-and-one at the Seattle 15, and Earl Bennett dropped a wide-open TD pass. The offense was respectable but put up basically the average point total (17) that Seattle allows (16.8).

The offense finished with 358 yards, the first of eight times they have gotten more than 250 yards and lost in 2012. This game marked the first time in the 26 games when Jay Cutler has had a passer rating of 100 or better than the Bears have lost.


Jay Cutler was confronted with first-rate pressure from Seattle edge rushers Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons, with big physical corners covering favorite-target Brandon Marshall. But he was accurate and finished with 17 completions in 26 attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, and a rating of 119.6.

The performance was even more noteworthy because he was without injured receivers Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester and proceeded to lose Earl Bennett to a concussion late in the first half.

Cutler ran four times for 27 yards and displayed more than simply settling for a few yards. Three of his four runs picked up first downs.


Matt Fortes falling-down catch at the goal line in the third quarter was a game-changer, a 12-yard TD catch to take advantage of two Seattle penalties.

The Seahawks committed early to stuffing Forte and he managed minus-2 yards on his first four carries, but Michael Bush got tough yards on very physical carries in the fourth quarter.

Forte (21-66) and Bush (7-39) accounted for 105 rushing yards and Forte was a factor in the pass game after Bennett was hurt. Forte caught three passes for 30 yards.


Brandon Marshall was targeted on 14 of Cutlers 26 pass attempts, catching 10 for 165 yards. His 56-yard grab late in regulation gave the Bears a chance for the game-tying field goal and he repeatedly made difficult catches against Seattles physical corners

Earl Bennett turned a takeaway into points with a 12-yard TD pass on the first possession, his first TD since Nov. 7 last season vs. Eagles. But he will surely remember even more the drop of a ball five yards behind any Seahawk defender earlier, costing the offense a score. His leaving with a possible concussion in the first half was a major setback to a receiver corps already missing Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester with injuries.

Kyle Adams blocking helped get Bennett into the end zone. Evan Rodriguez caught a pass for a first-down pickup.


The revamped line of JMarcus Webb-Edwin Williams-Roberto Garza-Gabe Carimi-Jonathan Scott stood up well against the interior power of the Seattle front and allowed some pressure but few hits from a very good pass rush.

James Brown in his first NFL experience worked as the third tight end and threw a key seal block on the right edge for a third-down Forte conversion.

The Seahawks finished with one sack of Cutler and Bears running backs averaged 4.4 yards per carry after Seattles initial burst of holding Forte to minus-2 yards on his first four carries.


This is a tough one and depends on whether you believe the fourth-down try was a good idea or bad one.

Play design on Earl Bennetts 12-yard TD catch on the first possession was superb. Bennett was started on the right side, motioned all the way across to the left and was all alone. Coaches also beautifully structured the TD pass to Matt Forte coming out of the backfield, outside Brandon Marshall and into a coverage mismatch.

The Seahawks stuffed Matt Forte on his first four runs but the offense ran seven times vs. nine passes in the first quarter, which helped Marshall against safety help. The Bears finished with 28 called running plays to 27 pass plays, plus four Cutler runs that were not necessarily breakdowns in protection but more his choice.

But the decision to go for a fourth-down conversion at the Seattle 15 in the second quarter was surprising, against a good defense in game without much scoring expected. Coaches effectively took points off the board early in the game and allowed the Seahawks to steal momentum.

And yet, it was a chance to stick an early dagger in the heart of a good but wavering Seattle defense. Even after the miss on Bushs run Lovie Smith was correct, a team should be able to pick up less than one yard with a 240-pound running back the Bears were giving Seattle the ball at its 15-yard line. It should not have come down to a missed half-yard.

Morning Update: Cubs tie up World Series with Game 2 win; Bulls begin season against Celtics

Morning Update: Cubs tie up World Series with Game 2 win; Bulls begin season against Celtics

Here are some of the top headlines happening in the Chicago sports world today...

Cubs roll over Indians to even up World Series

Could Cubs start Kyle Schwarber in World Series game at Wrigley Field?

Jake Arrieta brings his A-game as Cubs even up World Series

5 Things to Watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

Willson Contreras apologizes to Cubs fans on Twitter and again makes his presence felt in World Series

Bears running back by committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

Cubs: Even Kyle Schwarber's teammates can't believe what they're seeing in World Series

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Cubs Talk Podcast: Kyle Schwarber's impact on offense

Cubs offense settling into World Series groove

Cubs offense settling into World Series groove

CLEVELAND - It doesn't take long for the 2016 Cubs to rebound.

Their American League-style lineup is just simply too talented to keep down for an extended period of time, especially with Kyle Schwarber now added back into the fold.

They Cubs hitters are so confident, they even left Progressive Field feeling good about themselves despite being shut out in Game 1 of the World Series.

The Cubs got on the board early Wednesday night, plating a run on the third batter of the game as Anthony Rizzo doubled home Kris Bryant.

"Take the momentum away. Take the crowd out of it," Bryant said. "It's nice to score first. Especially when you're the visiting team, to get out there and score within the first three batters is huge."

The early lead helped the lineup settle in and keep their foot on the gas for a 5-1 victory to take the series back to Wrigley Field tied one game apiece.

"Especially with a young lineup, I think when you see a few guys go up there and take some good quality at-bats, one happens after the other and the other guys seem to do the same thing," Ben Zobrist said. "It takes a lot of pressure off. When you see other guys having good, quality at-bats, you don't feel like you have to take pitches and you can be aggressive early on. 

"Oftentimes when you're aggressive in the zone is when you take the tough ones. We did a good job tonight laying off some good pitches. When they made mistakes in the zone, we really hit the ball hard. Even though we scored five runs, obviously we had a lot of baserunners on and we could've scored a lot more."

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Zobrist has a point.

The night after leaving nine runners on base and going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Cubs left 13 runners on base and tallied just three hits in 12 tries with runners in scoring position.

Between nine hits and eight walks, there were Cubs on base all game. Indians pitchers didn't retire Cubs hitters in order in an inning until the seventh.

The Cubs also forced the Indians to throw 196 pitches in nine innings and worked starter Trevor Bauer to 51 pitches through the first two frames.

"That was good for us," Bryant said. "We saw a lot of their bullpen, so we have a lot of information to learn from and hopefully use in the next game."

Anthony Rizzo summed up the lineup's mentality simply:

"Grind out at-bats, work the pitcher's pitch count up and get the next guy up," he said.

That "pass the baton" mentality is what drives this offense and after a brief lull in that regard in Los Angeles when they were shut out in back-to-back games in the NLCS, the Cubs leave Cleveland feeling pretty good.

"When we're able to [get pitch counts up], you can kinda feel it - our offense really feeds off of that," Zobrist said. "We believe that we're going to break through eventually."