Bears grades: A dominant day for the ‘D’, save one unit

QUARTERBACKS: B-

This wasn’t Mitch Trubisky best game from an accuracy standpoint, and his 55 percent completion rate is notable after he completed 52 percent of his passes against the New England Patriots in Week 7. But his decision-making was, on the whole, sound against the Jets. He did well to be the “bait” to set up Tarik Cohen’s 70-yard screen pass score, and facing a third and goal from the four in the third quarter, he checked into a different route based on the defense he saw, then made a perfect throw to Anthony Miller for a touchdown.

Trubisky sparked that third quarter scoring drive, too, with a scramble for a first down on third and 10. The Jets had a spy on Trubisky for most of the game, but he still managed 61 yards on five carries. That running ability remains an asset, especially while he’s struggling with his accuracy, especially on deep balls.

While Trubisky missed some throws on blitzes, he generally did well against Todd Bowles’ pressure. The Jets blitzed Trubisky 17 times, with the Bears’ quarterback completing six of 13 passes, scrambling three times and taking one sack on those plays. Trubisky threw for 128 yards and a touchdown when blitzed, averaging 9.8 yards per attempt.

But a final line of 16/29 for 220 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 102.7 is pretty good. The Bears believe it can be better, and based on what we saw against Tampa Bay and the second half of the Miami game, it certainly can be.

RUNNING BACKS: B+

Fifty-three of Howard’s 81 yards came in the fourth quarter, which doesn’t completely erase an ineffective first 45 minutes but accomplishes what the Bears needed. Howard’s season-high 24-yard run set up a two-yard touchdown that came after the Jets cut the Bears’ lead to seven, and stood as one of the more critical plays in Sunday’s game. The Bears still need more effectiveness from Howard, who averaged 3.7 yards per carry though frequently didn’t get much help from his offensive line. But Sunday was, at least, an overall positive game for him.

“I thought that this was like the true definition of persistence over resistance for him, and for our offensive line,” coach Matt Nagy said. “We know we’ve got to get better with our running backs and with our offensive line. … I was proud of him. He had 22 carries. So we just keep plugging away but I’m really proud of him.”

Cohen, too, had two explosive plays: A 70-yard dash on a perfectly set up screen pass and a 21-yard run that set up Trubisky’s touchdown toss to Miller.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B

Anthony Miller played better than his three-catch, 37-yard, one-touchdown line would indicate — he could’ve had a catch or two more with better throws from Trubisky. This group on the whole did well to pick up the slack with Allen Robinson out with a groin injury — Josh Bellamy caught all four his catchable targets for 37 yards, while Taylor Gabriel picked up 52 yards on six targets and four catches. Gabriel delivered a strong block to set up Cohen’s touchdown, and Kevin White also lived up to his billing as the team’s best blocking receiver, too.

TIGHT ENDS: C+

Trey Burton caught three of four targets for 18 yards, but did some good things in the running game. Dion Sims helped block up Howard’s 24-yard run in the fourth quarter well, too.

OFFENSIVE LINE: C+

Too many times did Jets defenders force their way into the backfield on running plays, like on the Bears’ first drive when Howard was dropped by two defenders for no gain on a second and three run. James Daniels had an uneven game in his first career start, while Kyle Long — before his painful-looking foot injury in the fourth quarter — was guilty of an unnecessary roughness penalty that erased not only a 20-yard gain but a 15-yard roughing the quarterback penalty, too, that would’ve given the Bears the ball on the Jets’ 20-yard line inside the first half two minute warning. Again, though, the Bears’ pass blocking was solid — while the Jets did total five quarterback hits, they blitzed plenty and one of Trubisky’s two sacks came when he tried to scramble and was caught from behind.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A

Akiem Hicks bullied the Jets’ offensive line and, along with Eddie Goldman, was critical in limiting Isaiah Crowell to an ineffective 25 yards on 13 carries. Roy Robertson-Harris pitched in with four tackles, one of which went for a loss, while Hicks had one of the Bears’ better pass rushes of the game on an early third-and-long. But stopping the run was goal No. 1 for the Bears’ defensive line, and they accomplished that on Sunday.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: D

This group helped chip in against the run, but was largely absent in pressuring Sam Darnold. Leonard Floyd did have a good pressure up the middle on a second and 10 midway through the second quarter, but that was the only notable bit of pass rushing this unit had. Floyd in particular wasn’t able to mount much of a rush against Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A

Danny Trevathan was all over the field, providing help in run support with a team-leading seven tackles and had a good pass break-up. He sniffed out a screen on third and 15 to force a Jets punt on their first drive of the second half, too. Roquan Smith, too, played well against both the pass and run, notching five tackles and a tackle for a loss, which came on a quick pass to running back Trenton Cannon for a loss of three in the fourth quarter.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: A

Bryce Callahan had a monster game, breaking up three passes while playing excellent in coverage and recording the Bears’ only sack of the game on a well-executed blitz (he whiffed on Sam Darnold earlier in the game, and hit home when given a second chance). Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos both played well, too, outside of Jackson committing an unnecessary roughness penalty that sparked the Jets’ only touchdown drive of the game — though that was a call Jackson said was “crazy” after the game.

“It was a crazy call to me because I’m not anticipating the guy to drop the ball,” Jackson said. “I was already into tackling, with all the new rules I already had him lined up and everything. But it was a crazy call.”

Two plays after Jackson’s penalty, Kyle Fuller had a pass go off his fingertips for a 29-yard gain, and two plays after that Darnold found tight end Chris Herndon for a touchdown. But beyond that blip, this was an strong game from a coverage and tackling perspective for the Bears’ secondary.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

A lot more went wrong for this unit than went right, starting with Cody Parkey missing a 40-yard attempt wide right on the Bears’ first drive of the game. Deon Bush was guilty of a block in the back penalty on a Cohen return, and then he failed to locate a Pat O’Donnell punt that could’ve been downed inside the five-yard line, instead allowing the ball to bounce into the end zone for a touchback. And while Cohen did have a good 20-yard return that gave the offense a short field (50 yards) for a touchdown drive, he made a poor decision when he tried fielding a bouncing punt with about five and a half minutes remaining in the game.

COACHING: A

That the Bears’ offense was productive despite not quite clicking is another testament to Nagy’s coaching. And credit Vic Fangio for a sound defensive gameplan, which shut down the Jets’ running game and, while it didn’t result in many big plays, was able to lock down Darnold for most of the game, too.

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