Arkush: Bears get failing grades

Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The Bears' 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings Sunday was as disappointing as any I can remember in recent seasons.

In order to lose that game, the Bears had complete breakdowns of both the whole offense and the whole defense, making it extremely difficult to assign either individual or positional grades, and giving you a pretty good indicator of what the coaching grades should be.

So let’s get that done first. Marc Trestman and his staff get a D+. Gaining 480 yards of offense and getting five quarterback sacks from the 23rd rated pass rush in the league gets you a few brownie points.

But . . . while six penalties for 51 yards isn’t the end of the world, the silliness and lack of discipline on several of them points to coaches as well as players.

The Bears were 2-for-11 converting third downs. Josh McCown is going to take a hit for that as well but at some point you have to realize the coaches aren’t putting their offense in the best plays to succeed.

Worst of all is changing your identity at the most critical juncture of a game. Trestman has ID’d himself as a bit of a gambler in recent weeks, going for it with mixed results, professing great confidence in his offense.

To suddenly say Robbie Gould is the only guy on the team he trusts by trying a 47–yard field goal on second and 7 was stunning at best and inexcusable at worst. On third down, I get it, allow for a second chance with a false start or bad hold. But to not try and get closer on second down, there really is no explanation other than fear.

I don’t believe in judging players by taking away their two or three best plays, but McCown’s numbers were downright pedestrian without the 80- and 46-yard touchdowns to Alshon Jeffery, and McCown was just 4 of 9 passing on third down and one of the two conversions was the 46-yarder on the incredible Jeffery catch.

McCown just didn’t make enough plays to beat a bad Vikings team and I think the best you can give him is a B– or C+.

Matt Forte had a nice game with 23 carries for 120 yards but the Bears' short yardage ground game is awful. Forte gets a very solid B.

For the most part Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett were your receivers. Jeffery clearly gets an A+, Marshall gets a B– and Bennett had a tough day, probably a C.

The offensive line gets a C, too. The four sacks it allowed was the most in a game this season and, as I said, the Bears short–yardage ground game is awful. Jordan Mills, in particular, has become a favorite target of opposing defenses.

The defensive line gets a B-, carried by another A- for Julius Peppers. Five sacks is easily their best output of the year, but they can’t get a pass on the 246 yards of rushing the Vikings piled up. Like Mills, Shea McClellin is becoming harder and harder to hide.

The linebackers and safeties have to bear the brunt of the failure to stop the run, and James Anderson was the most vulnerable this time. To Jon Bostic, I say, taunting? Really, after they ran it down your throat all day long? D's for all but Anderson, who gets a D -.

Tim Jennings has played well of late and Zack Bowman wasn’t a problem. I’d give Jennings a B, Bowman B -.

As for special teams, how hard can you be on a kicker who missed just his second and third kicks of the year, one from 66 yards? Gould never should have been out there at that moment on the 47-yarder in OT. But it is exactly that kick – on fourth or maybe third down – that he gets paid millions of dollars to make. He did fail.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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