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Where do Bears rank among 2-0 teams?

Updated: October 18, 2013 6:27AM



As a team, the Bears get a B+ for their 31-30 nail-biting victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The rationale is simple.

After two weeks, there are only eight undefeated teams. The Seahawks, Saints, Patriots, Dolphins, Texans, Broncos and Chiefs join the Bears at 2-0.

You can argue there’s little doubt Seattle, New England, Houston and Denver belong among the NFL’s elite and have earned an A or an A-. But are the Bears, New Orleans, Miami and Kansas City as good or better than the 1-1 49ers, Packers, Falcons and Ravens? And are the Bears definitely better than New Orleans and Kansas City?

At 2-0 and based on the resistance they’ve gotten from Cincinnati and Minnesota, B+ is where the Bears belong.

Remember last week, I mentioned those Cutler moments on the Bears quarterback’s report card. The fourth-quarter comeback and particularly the final touchdown toss to Martellus Bennett were A+ material. And Cutler’s poise in the pocket and comfort in Marc Trestman’s offense have been impressive.

But there has never been a quarterback with an A grade that I know of that included two picks and a fumble returned for a TD. I like most of what I’ve seen of Cutler this year, but those “moments” make him a B again this week.

Matt Forte had a nice day against the Vikings, too. His 30 touches on 19 rushes and 11 receptions is probably even better than Trestman hoped for, and 161 yards of total offense is a great day’s work.

Tight ends get a B, as well. I know, I know, Martellus Bennett gets an A+, absolutely. But Trestman’s offense requires two and prefers three, and for the Bears, Bennett still makes just one.

It’s hard to give the wideouts anything more than a B-. Brandon Marshall had a big touchdown and 113 yards, but Alshon Jeffery managed only one catch for 11 yards on five targets. Earl Bennett caught the two passes Cutler threw to him, but that’s it. Three players don’t make a wide receiver corps, and, at some point, that’s going to hurt.

I’ve got a B- for the offensive line this week. Please remember, folks, that’s a pretty good grade, and for a Bears O-line, it’s very good. Watch the tape, and you’ll see that, while the kids continue to play well, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills each made a few more mistakes than they did against the Bengals, and Jermon Bushrod had his hands full with Jared Allen all afternoon.

The defensive line gets a C, and that might be generous. The one positive was gap control, which helped the linebackers earn the best grade of the day. But Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton each managed only one tackle, and all Shea McClellin could notch was an assist. The pass rush was non-existent.

The linebackers get an A-, actually A+ for Lance Briggs, A- for James Anderson and B- for D.J. Williams. Briggs is playing as well as he ever has, while Williams is still finding his way, but the job they did on Adrian Peterson was a gem and probably the difference in the game.

I’m giving the secondary a B because of Tim Jennings’ 44-yard interception return for a touchdown, which was the perfect answer to Brian Robison’s 61-yard fumble-return touchdown. Jennings actually played well all day, but Charles Tillman was not the factor he was against the Bengals, and the safeties continue to struggle in pass coverage.

Devin Hester gets an A-, and the special teams get a C+. Hester’s only minus was a couple of punts he should’ve fielded and didn’t, but he was brilliant returning kicks, and the Bears don’t win without him.

His special-teams teammates get credit for their work on the kickoff returns, but you can’t open a game allowing a 105-yard touchdown.

Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com.



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