CHI-SD Grades: Jay Cutler earns top grade of game
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Bears’ 22-19 victory over the Chargers:
San Diego Chargers
– If the Chargers could ask for one thing from Melvin Ingram (+3.4) it would surely be consistency. For the third time this season Ingram earned a pass rush grade of +1.0 or higher after racking up a sack and four hurries against the Bears last night. This, however, comes after a spell in which he earned a pass rush grade of -1.1 or worse in three straight games, recording just two hits and four hurries in three games from Week 5 to Week 7. Ingram at his best is a terrific pass rusher, but the Chargers need him playing at that level on a more consistent basis.
– Last night started well for right guard D.J. Fluker (-1.9), with a punishing second level block on Christian Jones (+1.8) on the Chargers’ first run of the game, but it ultimately ended in disappointment. His most memorable moment of the night was his illegal man downfield penalty, when he for some reason expected Philip Rivers to scramble against two unblocked Chicago defenders, costing Rivers and Gates a touchdown pass that would have given the Chargers a two-point lead. Fluker also struggled in pass protection, surrendering half a dozen hurries while earning a pass protection grade of -2.8, the third time he has earned a grade below -2.0 this season.
– A game of “nearly” and “might have been” for Philip Rivers (+1.4) last night, as he saw another receiver go down to injury, passes put on the ground, and a penalty call back a score, all of which saw the Chargers come up just shy of victory. Rivers exploited a coverage bust for his touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead (+0.3) and at the end of the game, was just a little unlucky with Dontrelle Inman (-3.6) dropping a pass on second-and-18, which would have set up a far more manageable third down, but instead left Lamarr Houston in a position to pin his ears back and make amends for his offsides on the very next play.
LG Kenny Wiggins (+4.0)
OLB Melvin Ingram (+3.4)
CB Jason Verrett (+1.5)
CB Brandon Flowers (+1.4)
QB Philip Rivers (+1.4)
– When Jay Cutler (+4.6) threw his pick-six early in the second quarter a third straight defeat seemed to be upcoming for the Bears, but their quarterback responded immediately and emphatically from that point on. Hooking up with Alshon Jeffery (+3.0) for a 47 yard gain on the next play, Cutler drove the Bears down the field for a score to balance his pick six and then proceeded to lead two lengthy second half touchdown drives to see Chicago to victory. Strong work in the intermediate range was Cutler’s calling card in this game going seven-for-nine for 95 yards, earning a +4.2 PFF passing grade on passes aimed 10-to-19 yards downfield.
– The Bears missed Matt Slauson (+2.8) badly last season after an impressive debut season for them in 2013, and he has proven his versatility in recent weeks with his performances stepping in at center from his customary spot at left guard. Slauson earned a positive grade as both a run blocker and pass protector in his third straight game after an inconsistent start to the season.
– There were question marks over the Bears’ rotation of outside linebackers entering this season, but last night proved to be a new high point for a group that is getting the job done regardless of doubts of whether all of them can “work” in a 3-4 defense. Star free agent signing Pernell McPhee (+0.3) was productive once again, with three hits and four hurries, while opposite him in the starting lineup, Willie Young (+3.4) turned in his best performance of the season with four hurries, a batted pass, and a pair of stops. The telling contribution, however, came from Lamarr Houston (+1.4 pass rush) who produced two pivotal sacks on the final drive to make his most memorable contribution in the game (rather than a pair of offsides penalties).
QB Jay Cutler (+4.6)
TE Martellus Bennett (+3.6)
OLB Willie Young (+3.4)
WR Alshon Jeffery (+3.0)
C Matt Slauson (+2.8)
To view all of game grade recaps from NFL Week 9, click here.