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Grading the Bears

The Bears have had worse efforts but four plays defined this game and made anything else they did in the rain a moot point.

The water-logged fans who stuck it out until the end of Sunday's 33-22 loss by the Bears at Soldier Field to the Arizona Cardinals didn't care to offer up many boos, much less chant "fire Nagy."

Four interceptions set Kyler Murry up to produce 24 points on 76 yards of offense and made it easy for the Cardinals. The Bears were quick work and there's no sense wasting breath on chants to fire the coach when it's apparent now it will come soon enough.

Until Justin Fields returns from broken ribs, there is no point to the rest of this Bears schedule. Bringing him back too soon and letting him risk hurting the ribs worse makes no sense, either. What kind of experience is he going to get running an offense they'll be trashing after this year, anyway?

The Bears do have a strange sense of timing.

They finally have figured out how to move the ball as they outgained an opponent for the fourth straight game after being outgained the previous four games. They even topped their feeble 16-point scoring average. They just haven't figured out how to  keep from giving the ball to opponents.

Their defense struggled for weeks trying to stop opponents with the game on the line and no one can be sure if they've figured it out because on Sunday the game was never on the line.

Here are the grades for a Bears game when they couldn't hang onto the ball, but did discover they know how to play with walkie talkies.

Running Game: B

The problems the Bears experienced over the last two years trying to run when they had a less mobile quarterback to deflect attention away from the backs seem to be gone, as David Montgomery gained 90 yards. This is an indication of an offensive line that has built some cohesion in the run-blocking scheme and explains why Nagy said after the game again that there are no plans to bring Teven Jenkins onto the field when they have five starters who are getting the job done. Khalil Herbert even resurfaced after several weeks of inactivity or gaining a few inches per game. When he isn't tip-toeing into the line, Herbert is nearly as effective as Montgomery.

Passing Game: F

Averaging 5.6 yards a pass attempt is rather miserable in and of itself, but when the results of four attempts are interceptions and the opponent comes away with 121 return yards on them to set up easy scores, they probably would have been better off using quick kicks. At least they wouldn't have been hurting their own defense. Andy Dalton probably could be blamed for two of the picks: the first one and the screen at the end. The first one was poorly thrown and Jakeem Grant thew a hand up trying to field it, which also was a mistake. The receivers reacted much of the day like they hadn't played in the rain. Arizona's didn't, but the cold weather-loving Bears did. Really, could Justin Fields have done any worse with broken ribs?

Run Defense: C-

The Cardinals running attack is a rather unusual one as they try to isolate backs in sections of the field with few defenders. James Conner was held to 3.8 yards an attempt and the Bears didn't get hurt by the end around the Cardinals are so fond of. Roquan Smith played a strong game chasing down Kyler Murray scrambles despite a hamstring injury. However, what the defense didn't do was contain Murray on zone-read runs, scrambles out of RPOs or out of dropback passes. He had 59 yards on 10 attempts with two rushing TDs.

Pass Defense B-

They held DeAndre Hopkins in check with 32 yards on just two receptions and the only receivers with catches 20 yards or longer were Hopkins and Conner on a screen. The Cardinals had their second-lowest passing total of the year at 120 yards as the Bears did exactly what Carolina did to Arizona defensively and also with their own running game. They just turned the ball over, and you can't play ball-control by turning over the ball.

Special Teams: C+

Aside from Jakeem Grant failing to field one punt in the rain to leave the Bears backed up on their own 2, the special teams had a solid enough day. Pat O'Donnell showed he could take a fall like the best Hollywood stunt men, Vlade Divac or every professional soccer player on the planet when he drew a roughing-the-kicker penalty. It was a very difficult day to do plenty of things weather-wise and special teams was one of them.

Coaching: C+

Matt Nagy didn't coach Cole Kmet to lose the football on a throw in the red zone that went for a game-changing interception, and he didn't throw the screen Andy Dalton threw for a pick. The coaching staff did what it could with a ridiculous headset situation. The McCaskeys need to run over to Best Buy and purchase these people a communications system that works. It's happened far to often in the past two years. The game plan on offense was an actual thing of beauty as they tried to do everything which causes the Cardinals problems from running up the middle, to using backs in the receiving game, as well as tight ends. The coaches couldn't catch the football for them.

Overall: C

An average day won't beat the team with the NFL's best record. The Bears are at a point where they need to be exceptional throughout the remaining games if they're going to save jobs, and there is no guarantee they will even if they manage this.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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