Report Card vs. Seattle: Stong grades for victory

Report Card vs. Seattle: Stong grades for victory

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
5:48 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The quality of opponent in 8-10 Seattle will be questioned but the Bears put up 28 straight points with consistent execution in a game that needed momentum for them early. Playoffs are about great plays but first they are about avoiding mistakes, and the Bears made few of them in allowing their talent advantage to carry the game.

Quarterback: A

Jay Cutler began his NFL playoff resume with a 58-yard TD strike to Greg Olsen and supplemented it with a 6-yard TD run early in the second quarter. He finished with two TD passes, two TD runs, passing effectiveness to the tune of a 111.3 rating in his first postseason appearance and threw zero interceptions while completing 15 of 28 passes for 274 yards.
Running backs: A

Chester Taylors 1-yard TD run put the Bears up 14-0 in the first quarter. Matt Forte tossed an interception out of a wildcat formation, a curious play call in the game situation unless it was to give the Packers something to think about. But Forte rushed for 80 yards and caught three passes for 54 more. Taylor broke several strong runs to finish with 44 yards on 11 carries.

Receivers: A

Greg Olsen burned the Seahawks for a TD on the Bears third play from scrimmage and set up the second TD with a 33-yard catch, finishing the first half with a career-best 113 yards. Johnny Knox led the Bears with four catches and tight end Kellen Davis added a TD on one of his two catches. Receivers struggled to get open at times but provided solid downfield blocking to add yards on runs by Cutler and the running backs.

Offensive line: A

The Seahawks sacked Cutler three times and were credited with four additional hits but the protection overall was outstanding, with the sacks resulting primarily from coverage by the Seattle secondary rather than breakdowns up front, which had been the problem in the teams first game. The Bears controlled the ball more than 37 minutes largely because the OL controlled the point of attack and minimized Seattle penetration.

Defensive line: B

Tommie Harris collected two sacks of Matt Hasselbeck and two tackles for loss, and Julius Peppers pressured Seattle LT Russell Okung into a pivotal first-quarter holding penalty. But no other defensive lineman had high-impact plays with any regularity. DT Anthony Adams provided some pressure up the middle but the defense overall let down in the fourth quarter, understandable given the way the offense was playing and Seattle wasnt, but the group was not at top playoff level.
Linebackers: A-

Brian Urlacher was credited with a team-high seven tackles, all solos, and had one for a loss. Lance Briggs was second to Urlacher with six as the Bears filled gaps and stuffed the Seahawks with 34 total rushing yards on 12 carries, 13 of the yards coming on one end-around to Golden Tate.

Secondary: A-

Charles Tillman was strong in a one-on-one matchup vs. Mike Williams, with Williams catching just four of the 13 passes on which he was targeted and managing just 15 total yards on his catches. Chris Harris went out with a hip pointer and rookie Major Wright filled in with a pass breakup and two tackles. Nickel back D.J. Moore finished with five solo tackles and Tim Jennings broke up two passes.

Special teams: B

Brad Maynard dropped three of his five punts inside the Seahawks 20, helped by Corey Graham downing two punts inside the Seattle 5-yard line and recovered a Seahawks on-sides kick in the fourth quarter. But kickoff coverage allowed a 62-yard return by Leon Washington, who finished with a 28.6-yard average on five returns.

Coaching: A

Adjustments were made to prevent Seattle from establishing any sort of rhythm early and aggressive play-calling produced big plays early to take the heart out of the Seahawks. The Bears were mentally prepared after their season-ender in Green Bay and what clearly was a well-focused bye week. Schemes were kept simple to have the Bears playing fast against an out-manned team and the Bears played under control without allowing Seattle big plays to recover momentum.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

The Bears try to get a third win in 2016 when they host the 49ers, and CSN has you covered.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Jim Miller and Chris Boden airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

Insert title of this "Bowl" game here...

Two teams. Three wins combined. December. So much for holiday cheer. The snow may provide a certain Christmas element on the lakefront Sunday. But something different has to happen for the Bears defensively. In their spirit of giving, the 49ers have allowed a league-high 76 points off their turnovers. Problem is, the Bears have just eight of them in eleven games. If that San Francisco generosity doesn't change – either by Vic Fangio's defense finally making plays despite the core of their defense missing, or by the visitors finding a way to protect the ball in those conditions after practicing in Orlando all week – it's a golden chance for the Bears to gain a smidge of momentum before becoming a factor in the division race (because they face all three other NFC North contenders in their final four games).

1. Read zone read

Colin Kaepernick has grown much more comfortable with time in Chip Kelly's offense. He had the Dolphins hanging on for dear life until the clock struck zero last week. He became just the sixth quarterback in league history to pass for three touchdowns in a game while rushing for over 100 (no, Bobby Douglass isn't one). The challenge becomes greater minus the talented inside linebacker tandem of Danny Trevathan (injury) and Jerrell Freeman (suspension). It becomes even greater if Leonard Floyd's quickness and speed is taken away as a shadowing option as he recovers from being carried off the field on a flat board two weeks ago. He's listed as questionable. So that makes it imperative for inside replacements John Timu and Nick Kwiatkowski to find a way to be instinctive while remaining disciplined enough to contain the league's best rushing quarterback by yards per attempt (8.1).

2. Don't stray from the run

Give this Niners defense without NoVorro Bowman and Eric Reid enough opportunities to be gashed, and they'll let you. Too many times the pregame formula has been for Jordan Howard to get the ball, only to find reasons not to – whether it's looking at the clock while trailing by double digits, too much traffic at the line of scrimmage or panic after injuries up front (to name a few). The 172 rushing yards per game allowed by San Francisco is the worst in eight years (Detroit).  Howard's 5.14 average gain per attempt is fifth in the NFL. Enough said.

3. Catch the ball!!!

Okay, Marquess, Josh and Deonte. Okay, Cam, Jordan and Jeremy. Okay Daniel (and/or Eddie?). We know conditions might be a little slick if it's snowing/sleeting/raining. You're supposed to be among the best in the world at what you do, even if you're down the original depth chart. Can you get your mitts on the football and hang on to it this week? Help your guy Matt out a little bit? After all, if you cut last week's nightmare in half, and maybe you're shooting for (oooh!) a fourth win Sunday, not a third.

Get set for Sunday's noon kickoff at 11 a.m. on CSN as ex-Bears Jim Miller, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Chris on "Bears Preagme Live." Then as soon as the second quarter ends, come back here to CSNChicago.com, where Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments. And finally, when the game goes final on Fox, switch immediately back to CSN as Chris and the three former Bears give you 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, live press conferences and locker room interviews on "Bears Postgame Live."