Grading the Bears: Passing marks for wide receivers

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 06:20:56 AM. The result was far more production from wide receivers than the Bears have gotten, a good sign for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who targeted wide receivers with 24 of his 35 attempts for 191 yards.

It has been easy to criticize the Bears for the play of wide receivers this season, but you can’t accuse them of standing pat coming out of the open date.

Playing time was shifted dramatically in Sunday’s 23-16 loss to the Packers, with the obvious move being the promotion of recently acquired , who started and played 57 of 60 offensive snaps. Inman delivered with six receptions for 88 yards, the most by a Bears receiver this season.

The big switch was Josh Bellamy’s return to a prominent role in the passing game. Bellamy participated in 55.6 percent of the snaps through the first four games before disappearing. After playing only 14 total snaps over the previous four games, Bellamy was promoted over Tre McBride and received 40 snaps, his second-highest total this season. Slot receiver ’s role also expanded considerably as he logged 46 snaps, the second-most he has had all season.

The result was far more production from the position than the Bears have gotten, a good sign for quarterback . Trubisky targeted wide receivers with 24 of his 35 attempts (not including running back Tarik Cohen when he lined up wide) for 191 yards and a 46-yard touchdown pass to Bellamy.

Inman had one bad drop on a deep slant on the final drive. The throw was a little high to get it over linebacker Blake Martinez but went off Inman’s hands. He showed good ability as a hands catcher before that. Bellamy made a nice move on cornerback on an out-and-up for the touchdown. But Bellamy had a ball that was slightly high go off his hands earlier in the game. It was the kind of throw that needs to be caught.

Expanded action for the wide receivers reduced the role for fullback Michael Burton, who got only seven snaps, and the Bears played only six snaps with two tight ends — and Daniel Brown. The wide receivers weren’t perfect — far from it — but from where the Bears started with Trubisky five games ago to now, it was an improvement. Wide receiver grade: 5.

Quarterback

Grade: 5

Trubisky showed more poise delivering the ball from the pocket and made a handful of impressive throws with good velocity in cold and wet conditions. His biggest fault was failing to avoid sacks, taking five, two of which were easily avoidable. On a naked bootleg, he had a quick throw to Bellamy or ample opportunity to throw the ball away but took a sack from , one of three by the Packers outside linebacker. He showed more patience in the screen game. He made a nice throw to Daniel Brown across his body while moving out of the pocket. While he didn’t throw an interception, some of the stats he piled up — 297 passing yards — came with the Bears playing catch-up in the fourth quarter.

Offensive linemen

Grade: 4

Right guard sat out with a left hand injury, resulting in center Cody Whitehair sliding over and Hroniss Grasu playing for the first time since injuring his right hand in Week 3 against the Steelers. Grasu struggled with power rushes and was overpowered at times by and Kenny Clark. The change at center led to one false start when the rest of the line was ahead of Grasu on one snap. That pushed the pocket into Trubisky at times. Left tackle Charles Leno was solid protecting the back slide, and it was a good game for right tackle .

Running backs

Grade: 5

The Packers loaded the box in order to force Trubisky to throw, and that led to five negative runs in the first half, including one in which Clay Matthews was held by tight end Adam Shaheen and still stopped for a 1-yard loss. Howard had a 25-yard gain off fake reverse action to Tarik Cohen, but the big holes were few and far between. Benny Cunningham made the mistake of reaching for the pylon at the end of a well-designed screen, and that turned into a fumble after John Fox’s replay review.

Tight ends

Grade: 4

Shaheen showed the kind of ability in the open field everyone has been waiting to see when Trubisky ran a bootleg off a play fake and quickly hit Shaheen, who turned it upfield for a 31-yard gain. The Bears need more of that with Zach Miller sidelined. Brown received a season-high 38 snaps. He was called for a false start and caught two passes for 23 yards.

handled the calls with sidelined and he was credited with a team-high 10 sacks, two more than his partner, Christian Jones. Kwiatkoski picked up an easy sack with the Packers line turned him loose on a blitz. Jones got caught looking in the backfield on some short throws in the flat.

Outside linebackers

Grade: 3

Pernell McPhee thought he had a stunt set with Unrein when he pressed hard inside, leaving the edge unsecure for Hundley to run for a 17-yard gain on third down. That miscommunication proved costly. helped force Montgomery outside on a third-and-1 run that led to no gain. He split a sack with Leonard Floyd, but there wasn’t enough pressure on Hundley.

Cornerbacks

Grade: 4

The Packers became the latest team to work predominantly on the left side of the defense as Hundley threw at nine times. Fuller had two nice pass breakups in the first half, and they would have been excellent plays had he picked them off. But Fuller was sloppy tackling and didn’t get his head turned around on the deep ball to Davante Adams at the end of the game. He was in a tough spot trying to plaster Adams on the 19-yard touchdown. got hit with a 29-yard pass-interference penalty, but it was a marginal call, at best. His biggest mistake was filling the wrong gap on Montgomery’s touchdown. It just takes one player to be out of position, and that’s what happened. Cre’Von LeBlanc timed up a blitz nicely for a sack when Hundley didn’t feel backside pressure.

Safeties

Grade: 6

’s presence continues to have a positive effect on Adrian Amos as Amos is much better closer to the line of scrimmage. He had eight tackles and was solid in run support. Jackson needed to be closer to Adams on the deep shot by Hundley late in the fourth quarter to help Fuller.

Special teams

Grade: 8

had easily his best game of the season connecting from 45, 44 and 49 yards and hitting two of his four kickoffs for touchbacks. DeAndre Houston-Carson had his third consecutive multi-tackle game covering kicks. Punter Pat O’Donnell performed well in poor conditions.

Twitter @BradBiggs

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