Offensive grades: Did the coaches blow the game?

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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.

QUARTERBACK A

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.

RUNNING BACK B-

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.

RECEIVERS B

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.

OFFENSIVE LINE B-

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.

COACHING A-

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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jose Quintana trade rumors and SoxFest preview

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jose Quintana trade rumors and SoxFest preview

When will a possible Jose Quintana trade go from a watch to a warning?

Chuck Garfien, Dan Hayes, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka break down the Quintana trade talks and what it will be like for him this weekend at SoxFest after months of trade rumors.

The guys also discuss what the White Sox roster might look like on Opening Day, and Hayes reveals his 2016 Hall of Fame ballot.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Plus listen for a special White Sox Talk Podcast giveaway: two free passes to SoxFest and the chance to play bags with Garfien and Todd Frazier at SoxFest.

Check out the latest episode below:

For Tom Rees, coaching gig at Notre Dame always seemed like an inevitability

For Tom Rees, coaching gig at Notre Dame always seemed like an inevitability

The last time Tom Rees played a game for Notre Dame, he was still known as Tommy Rees — but his coach put forth an offer that didn't come as a surprise to anyone in the press room at Yankee Stadium. 

"I'm a Tommy Rees fan for life," Kelly said after Notre Dame's 2013 Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers. "… He'll keep trying to play the game as long as he can. But I told him, he's got a bright future as a graduate assistant for Brian Kelly anytime."

Rees is joining Notre Dame as a full-time quarterbacks coach, not just as a coach-in-training graduate assistant role. The 24-year-old — whose father, Bill, has held a number of scouting roles in the NFL — only has two coaching stops on his resume, a graduate assistant role at Northwestern in 2015 and an offensive assistant job with the San Diego Chargers last year. But his lack of experience is more than made up for by the simple fact that, while at Notre Dame from 2010-2013, there was a well-established belief held by coaches and teammates that one day the Lake Bluff, Ill. native one day would coach in some capacity. 

"I'm very excited to have Tom join our staff," Kelly said in a statement Tuesday. "He possesses an understanding of the game, and most importantly the quarterback position, that's unique. He's a true student of the game and great communicator that will offer immediate dividends toward guiding our quarterback room.

"As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster. He's literally sat in their seat, dealt with the ups and downs, faced the criticism, deflected the praise, and all that comes with playing the position at Notre Dame. He can genuinely mentor them — not only on the football field, but in the classroom and the community as well."

Rees effectively became a player/coach in 2012, when a July arrest for resisting law enforcement and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor led to a one-game suspension that knocked him out of what was a four-person competition to be the team's starting quarterback. Everett Golson ultimately emerged from that fray, but Rees was a fixture as both a mentor to and a replacement for the redshirt freshman as the Irish rolled to the BCS Championship with an undefeated regular season record. 

Consider what Rees said about his relationship with Golson prior to the 2013 BCS Championship:

"There'd be a couple late night discussions," Rees said. "He'd ask me what I thought he needed to improve on, you know, don't hold anything back. And I told him the truth sometimes -- I told him the truth all the time, sometimes it wasn't what he wanted to hear. But any way I could help, and I've had a lot of fun working with him."

Rees' playing time that year was important, yet sporadic. So during the week and from the sidelines, he took more of a coach's point of view with the Irish offense, which teammates said was beneficial when he took over the starting job again in 2013 follow Golson's academic suspension. 

"Not being a stating quarterback, it's sort of pushed him to become more of a leader and more of a coach," former offensive lineman Chris Watt said before the 2013 season. "I think that helped him see the game a little bit differently than before." 

Rees will be primarily tasked with grooming redshirt sophomore Brandon Wimbush, a guy who some around the program thought was the most talented quarterback on Notre Dame's roster the last few years. Of course, Wimbush's offensive knowledge wasn't near the level possessed by Malik Zaire or DeShone Kizer, but his throwing and running ability are both mouth-watering traits that Rees will have a chance to mold.

That Rees is getting his coaching start in his mid-20's isn't particularly surprising. In many ways, has always been on track for this role, and maybe more (think offensive coordinator).

"When I finished my playing career and graduated from Notre Dame, I wanted to do two things," Rees said Tuesday. "First, I wanted to coach, and second, at some point in my career I hoped to get an opportunity to return and do it at my alma mater. I didn't know when or if this opportunity might present itself, but I'm so grateful and honored that it did. I'm ready to get things rolling with this great staff and group of student-athletes."