The Bears week one victory over the Atlanta Falcons proved the doubters wrong. After a disappointing loss to end their season last year, the Bears didn’t suffer a hangover to start off the 2011 season. Instead, they dominated the Falcons on both sides of the ball. With their first three games being against 2010 playoff teams, it’s crucial the Bears get off to a good start this season.
Here are the week one grades for the Chicago Bears.
Jay Cutler put some of the criticism from last years NFC Championship game to rest, but he still has a long way to convince the national media that he’s a good quarterback. Cutler got the Bears going early. Although he had some questionable throws, his decision making was above par. Cutler finished with two touchdown passes, and over 300 yards passing. That went along with his one interception on a tipped pass.
Running backs: B+
Even with Marion Barber out, the Bears running backs still had real good games. Forte was not only a force in the run game, but in the receiving game as well. Khalil Bell supplemented Forte in the run game and did a good job. As a team, the Bears rushed for 88 yards on 27 attempts. This is a phase in the game the Bears could improve on in upcoming weeks.
Wide Receivers: B-
Another position that had question marks coming into the season, but the Bears receivers showed they don’t need a dominant number one. All receivers contributed, as Cutler found seven different receivers/tight ends for completions. Matt Forte had a long touchdown reception that seemed to spark the teams offensive game, and newcomer Matt Spaeth showed the Bears his capabilities.
Offensive Line: C+
Okay, they didn’t play THAT bad, but there is still work to be done on this newly constructed line. The Bears are going to miss Olin Kreutz, sooner or later it will show. Rookie Gabe Carimi played well in his first start and I only see him improving as time goes on. The line showed it can play well at times during the game, but they still gave up four sacks that could have been prevented.
Defensive Line: A-
Possibly the biggest key to this game for the Bears was getting pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Not only did the Bears cause havoc for Ryan, but their five sacks showed that teams need to worry about the Bears defensive line. Julius Peppers and Henry Melton had two sacks each, and Peppers forced another fumble.
We all know about the Lance Briggs contract distraction heading into week one, but it looked like it didn’t even phase the Bears. Brian Urlacher finished with 10 tackles, a interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
The secondary didn’t play a bad game going up against Roddy White and Julio Jones, two pretty good receivers with a good quarterback. There were a few times where the secondary was beat in coverage, but they prevailed. Charles Tillman continued to show why he’s the best at forcing fumbles.
Special Teams: B
The Bears pride themselves on special teams play. Robbie Gould continued his solid play from last season by converting on all three of his field goal attempts. New punter Adam Podlesh wasn’t spectacular, but he got the job done.
Team Grade: B
The Bears face another tough opponent in week two as they head down to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the high powered Saints. With a brutal first three games on the schedule, the Bears need to play smart and on top of their game to prove the doubters wrong.