The Bears-Ravens game was different.
I’m stating the obvious, but when grading the Bears' individual performances against the Ravens, it’s critical to consider the extreme weather conditions, miserable playing surface and that both teams had to overcome a 1-hour, 53-minute delay.
Marc Trestman and his entire coaching staff get an A, in large part for the way they took advantage of the long delay, refocused their team and brought them back to win a game they almost lost in the first quarter.
Trestman is having a really good rookie year.
I also want to give an A to the 46 players, for the way they responded to the conditions, the delay and all their injured teammates.
This is really important because the individual grades, even allowing for the terrible weather, are a bit below what I was prepared for when I began reviewing the tape.
Josh McCown gets a B. He took care of the football and made a few key plays when he had to, most importantly the 43-yard throw to Martellus Bennett in overtime.
But he also left more than a few plays on the field, some due to the conditions, but some because he is playing very conservatively and athletically. He just can’t do everything that Jay Cutler can.
The running backs also get a B. Matt Forte had a really nice bounce back game after struggling against the Lions, but too much of his production is wrapped up in the 14-yard touchdown catch and two runs of 15 and 20 yards. His other 20 touches yielded 76 yards.
Also, Forte’s blocking has really slipped this year, and Michael Bush remains M.I.A.
The receivers get a B -. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery each had key drops, and Marshall caught just four of the ten balls thrown his way, Jeffery only seven of 11.
Is it possible neither McCown nor Jay Cutler like Earl Bennett, or can he just not get open any more? You have to agree it’s more likely the latter.
Martellus Bennett can have an A or a C -. He is really struggling with his blocking as he fights through injuries, and he had two costly penalties that could merit the C -.
But I’m going with the A. He has been fighting through injuries most of the season and never complains. He plays with the kind of heart that wins championships and, if not for his OT catch, they might still be playing.
The offensive line also gets a B. They did a really nice job of protecting McCown as a group, but they are not blocking the run well enough on most plays. Jermon Bushrod in particular did a really nice job on Terrell Suggs.
The defensive line gets a B+. When Julius Peppers takes over games, the Bears' entire defense can look different. That’s what happened against the Ravens. He was the best player on the field all day.
David Bass and Cheta Ozougwu had the biggest plays of their lives to complement Peppers. But the rest of the line struggled, and you can’t give up 174 yards rushing and expect to win games.
The linebackers get a C-. See the thing about giving up 174 rushing yards.
I’m giving the secondary a B -. Tim Jennings had a really nice game, Chris Conte was a tad better than usual, Major Wright and Isaiah Frey weren’t, and Zack Bowman has to get better.
Special teams get a B on the strength of Robbie Gould being perfect and getting the game-winner in spite of the horrible conditions.
This was easily the biggest win of the season for the team, but only Peppers, Bushrod and Martellus Bennett stood out as individuals.