BY HUB ARKUSH
Special to the Sun-Times
Nobody really expects me to grade the Bears’ performance Sunday at Lambeau Field, do they?
It’s impossible to remember the last time an NFL team failed as spectacularly as the Bears did in their 55-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and that makes it impossible to give a single player or coach anything but an F for the evening.
There were a few players who probably deserved better than they got from their teammates. Running back Matt Forte did what he could with his 20 touches: 17 rushes for 54 yards and three catches for 27 more. He played hard to the whistle and might have been a B-minus or a C-plus on his own.
But we can’t ignore the failings of the Bears’ passing and running games. I can’t remember the last time Forte caught only 43 percent of the throws on which he was targeted. Quarterback Jay Cutler tried to get him the ball seven times, and Forte caught only three of them.
Cutler is an easy target, but it can’t all be on him.
Receiver Brandon Marshall also played to about a B level and was the hardest-working guy on the field when most of the players on both teams were on cruise control in the second half. But some first-half histrionics and some less-than-stellar routes during the course of the game have to factor into his grade, too.
The offensive line had its worst game in two seasons under coach Marc Trestman. The Bears managed only 2.3 yards per rush, and Cutler was sacked four times for 27 yards.
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod had multiple pre-snap penalties, and right guard Kyle Long had his first truly bad game of the season. Long actually was flagged for holding the Packers’ Josh Boyd while Boyd was making a tackle on Forte.
Jordan Mills (before bruising his ribs) and Michael Ola (after Mills’ injury) were both swinging gates at right tackle, and only center Roberto Garza appeared to play his usual game.
Tight end Martellus Bennett gets an E for effort rather than an F. Only he can say for sure, but it appeared his issues were caused more by his bruised ribs than by a lack of effort or ability.
Defensively, it was 42-0 at the half. What more do I need to say?
I’m only going to mention three players.
It might be that defensive end Jared Allen wasn’t overly productive on the field because he was working so incredibly hard in the huddle and on the sidelines to keep his teammates in the game. Allen earned his check.
Linebackers Shea McClellin and Lance Briggs weren’t that bad against the run. McClellin continues to be absolutely lost in coverage and trying to shed blocks, but his run fits weren’t awful and he made some plays.
Briggs was active from the beginning to the final gun. He missed a few more fits than you’d like, but you can’t accuse him of not sacrificing his body or of failing to fly around trying to make something happen.
At the end of the day, as poorly as almost every player on the roster graded out, this disaster was on the coaches.
When Trestman and general manager Phil Emery met the media the day after the fiasco against the New England Patriots, they assured everyone that they understood how ugly things had gotten and that they had answers they would explore during the bye.
For the Bears to come back and be significantly worse against the Packers suggests there is only one conclusion we can draw.
Not only does the entire coaching staff get a failing grade, but it’s hard not to wonder if it’s too late to bring those grades up to passing before the end of the semester — I mean, season.
Hub Arkush is the editor of Chicago Football.