Dolphins vs. Bears: Three Phase Report Card

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In our weekly grading of how the Chicago Bears did, we examine the offensive struggles and defensive lapses that led to Sunday's loss against the Miami Dolphins. 

Offense: C-

The Chicago Bears’ offense is supposed to be one of its strengths, but with their scoring average down to 22 points per game and only scoring 14 points against the Miami Dolphins on their home field, things are not going right for this group at the moment.

The only reason this unit’s grade isn’t even lower is because of Matt Forte. He had 109 all-purpose yards on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns and helping the Bears at least remain somewhat competitive. Outside of him however, things go south in a hurry. Jay Cutler looked awful on Sunday, throwing off his back foot repeatedly and turning the ball over twice in the loss.

Alshon Jeffery was largely absent from the game as well, catching two balls on the first drive of the game and then not coming down with another reception the rest of the way.

All told, the team had just 224 yards of offense in the game, and they only had two first downs in the entire first half. TWO. It was a bad day overall, and one that Marc Trestman and company are going to have to address.

[[279788072, C]]

Defense: C

Being expected to play for over 37 minutes is never easy, but the Bears’ defense still has to play better than they did on Sunday. Jeremiah Ratliff was the lone standout of the afternoon, with three and a half sacks to his credit, but those all came in the early stages of the game, and he disappeared in the second half.

Several other players were worthy of criticism after the game, including cornerback Kyle Fuller, who blew a few coverages even before he broke his hand and picked up a hip pointer later in the game. Linebacker Shea McClellin also looked completely lost on the field, vacating gaps and getting pushed aside on run plays all afternoon.

About the only other bright spot on the day was that the Bears held the Dolphins to just four third down conversions in the game. That’s a carry-over from their success against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6, and one they should cling to as they evaluate game film this week.

10/19/14: Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton says Brandon Marshall is trying to be the leader of the team at a time when the coaches are failing to hold players accountable.

Special Teams: B+

In what has to be the most surprising sentence we’ve typed so far this season, the Bears’ special teams actually looked really good in this game. They didn’t have a single penalty, Robbie Gould didn’t miss on either of his extra point attempts after having one blocked in the Atlanta game, and most importantly of all, Chris Williams actually broke the 20-yard line on returns twice in the game.

Coaching: F

The impact of coaching in sports is often debated, but there is no way that the coaching staff can escape blame after a loss like this one. Trestman’s offensive game plan was a complete joke, and the results speak for themselves. His decision to let the first half clock run out rather than trying to get the ball back to get a positive result before the break was questionable, and his decision to call timeout on a 4th-and-1 play with 21 seconds left on the play clock was downright laughable.

As for Mel Tucker and the defense, one picture sums up the afternoon pretty well:

It was a scene all too reminiscent of the Buffalo game earlier in the season. The linebackers were vacating gaps, allowing Lamar Miller to savage them. They couldn’t contain Ryan Tannehill on read-option plays. They couldn’t do anything right. It was a bit of regression from Tucker, and it was something that the Bears cannot repeat again if they’re going to have any hope of beating the New England Patriots next week. 

10/19/14: Sports Sunday viewers take to Facebook and Twitter to answer FanZone question.
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