At the end of the day, three plays – the long touchdowns to Van Jefferson and Cooper Kupp with the blown coverages, and the Bears’ failed 4th-and-15 adventure with 10:00 to play – clearly dictated the rhythm and possibly even the outcome of the Bears’ 34-14 loss to the Rams..
Lost in all the fury with safeties Tashaun Gipson and Eddie Jackson for not touching Jefferson down around the 17-yard line is the fact that coverage was also blown somewhere near the line of scrimmage.
But there were 116 other plays, and the Bears actually matched the Rams on those, and even outplayed them for portions of the game.
A loss is a loss, you can’t re-spin that, but David Montgomery was not the only player on the Bears that played well.
QUARTERBACKS: With a game plan clearly designed to limit the impact of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Andy Dalton was for the most part efficient. He got the ball out too quick for the Rams to disrupt plays but also too quick to get anywhere near a chunk play or to use the Bears’ newfound speed. While neither was entirely his fault, the interception and fumble can’t happen. Justin Fields did all that he could with his five snaps. Grade: C+
RUNNING BACKS: It doesn’t really matter what Damien Williams did, and he did contribute in the passing game, Montgomery was the best player on the field for either team. Grade: A
WIDE RECEIVERS: This is really hard to judge because they weren’t given the whole route tree to work with, and they were in three-wide sets for most of the night, all trying to operate within 12 yards of the line of scrimmage. If it looked like Dalton was throwing into traffic most of the time, it’s because he was. It’s also a bit of a puzzle why Damiere Byrd got 36 snaps to Marquise Goodwin’s 26 when Goodwin is the more dangerous weapon. It wasn’t a straight matchup, but when it happened, Allen Robinson lost to Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey more than he won. Grade: B-
TIGHT ENDS: Clearly the Bears have decided Cole Kmet is going to be featured. He did well other than a costly false start on the play before the Dalton pick. J.P. Holtz showed why he’s still around with a great pull and lead on the Fields’ TD scamper. One of the biggest mysteries of the evening was why Jimmy Graham only got 14 snaps and two targets. Grade: B
OFFENSIVE LINE: Run blocking was strong and the interior played very well with James Daniels, in particular, having a nice night. Germain Ifedi was up and down, and Jason Peters struggled early but was settling down when he got hurt. Larry Borom looked good for a few plays before he got hurt, and Elijah Wilkinson just isn’t a left tackle. For the most part, however, they didn’t let Donald beat them. Grade: B
DEFENSIVE LINE: Akiem Hicks wasn’t dominant but definitely made his presence felt, mostly positively, although he had one dumb roughing call. Angelo Blackson was effective in relief of Eddie Goldman, and Khyiris Tonga looked like he belonged with his first 13 NFL snaps. Bilal Nichols could have shown up more. Grade: B
LINEBACKERS: Something is missing with Khalil Mack right now, but he still commanded multiple blockers most of the time. Robert Quinn was better than most of last year but still not impactful enough, and newbie Jeremiah Attaochu actually matched Quinn’s 33 snaps but didn’t do much with them. Roquan Smith played very well, and Alec Ogletree was effective at times, until like Hicks he got a really dumb 15-yard flag. Grade B:
SECONDARY: You all saw it, you don’t need me to relive it. Jaylon Johnson actually played very well, and Kindle Vildor showed enough to look forward to more, but the safety and nickel play were awful on more than just the two big blown coverages. You can’t win a game with that many mental errors. Grade: D
COACHING: I didn’t love the game plan. I hated the fourth-and-15 decision and call, and while Sean Desai is a rookie and deserves the benefit of the doubt, the number of mental mistakes on defense were really disturbing. Grade: C-