We’re officially past the first quarter mark of the 2010 season. To the surprise of everyone but this guy, the Bears are 4-1 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
Here’s a look at the early grades for all offensive position groups based on the first part of the season:
In his 3.5 games of action, Cutler has scored a 100+ (102.2) QB rating, something that hasn’t been seen in Chicago since they started computing QB ratings. Cutler has made some Grossman-like throws, but he’s thrown 6 TDs to only 3 INTs. He’s been sacked an unbelievable 17 times already, but many of those can be attributed to him holding onto the ball way too long. This positional grade would be higher if not for Todd Collins’ smelly 4-INT-induced 6.2 rating Sunday in Carolina.
Running Backs: B
The Bears’ duo of Forte and Taylor graded high mostly due to Forte’s overall play-making ability. When his offensive line has given him room to make plays, Forte’s been even better than his stellar rookie year in ’08. He has 5 total TDs (3 receiving and 2 rushing). And if his 166-yard rushing performance vs. the Panthers is any indication, #22 could end up a top-5 fantasy back. Taylor has been solid but unspectacular, and a lot of that is due to playing time, or a lack thereof. Until Sunday in Carolina, he hasn’t been on the field enough to warrant his massive salary.
Wide Receivers: C
For all their hope, promise and speed, the Bears WR unit has 1 TD between them – a beautiful one-handed effort by Devin Hester vs. the Cowboys. But based on his entire body of offensive work (11 catches), Hester has not become the game-changing, pass-catching presence Mike Martz envisioned for him. Devin Aromashodu has 0 catches the last 4 games. On the bright side, since DA dropped a would-be-bomb-for-a-TD against the Lions in week 1, I don’t remember the last time any of the WRs caught a case of the dropsies. Johnny Knox is averaging an impressive 21 yards per catch. And steady Earl Bennett seems to come up with one big catch per game.
Tight Ends: C –
While he’s fondly remembered for his momentum changing TD catch against Dallas, Greg Olsen has been underwhelming in my book. Dropped passes and fumbles (vs. Detroit) still dog him. And why Martz insists on keeping him – the unit’s worst run blocker – in the line-up on running plays is beyond me. Clark has been inactive for a game. Manumaleuna and Davis are decent blockers that have been non-existent in the passing game. But the Bears short-yardage running game has struggled with them in the lineup. This is the first year the Bears haven’t had a true fullback on their roster, and it’s uncovered a major cause for concern when the Bears get into short-yardage situations. Then again, a lot of that blame should be shared with the…
Offensive Line: D-
Easily the worst graded position on the team. If not for a 218-yard rushing day vs. the Panthers – the highest for the Bears since 1990 – this would be an “F”ing grade. Chicago QBs have been sacked a whopping 21 times through 5 games, including a Chicago Bear record 10-sack-allowed performance vs. the Giants. The Bears running game has averaged under 4 yards per carry…and that includes Sunday’s big game vs. Carolina. Thanks to Chris Williams’ injury, the tackles have been shuffled and reshuffled. Edwin Williams, Lance Louis and Jamarcus Webb have seen a lot of playing time, which bodes well for the future. And the less you hear their names called, the better for the Bears offense. With Mike Tice at the helm, let’s hope the best days are ahead for these big uglies.