MIN-CHI grades: Jordan Howard leads Bears offense to victory

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Chicago’s victory over Minnesota.

| 8 months ago
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

MIN-CHI grades: Jordan Howard leads Bears offense to victory

Chicago Bears 20, Minnesota Vikings 10

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Chicago’s victory over Minnesota.

Chicago Bears

Quarterback grade: Jay Cutler, 66.7

Cutler does enough to get the job done in return

Whether it was a little bit of rust, or just Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler, thing’s didn’t look so hot early on for the veteran QB. On Chicago’s first drive of the game he overthrew an open Alshon Jeffery in the end zone, which led to the Bears settling for a field goal. On the second drive of the game Cutler tossed a throw on third down that he was fortunate wasn’t intercepted – and possibly returned for a touchdown – by Xavier Rhodes along the sidelines. After that though he settled down and played well enough to lead the Bears to victory behind a strong rushing attack. When Cutler was allowed to throw from a clean pocket he was very efficient — his adjusted completion percentage (which accounts for things like dropped passes) from a clean pocket was 89.5 percent, which was the fourth-best among QBs in Week 8. Unfortunately for Cutler though, he didn’t have the luxury of throwing from a clean pocket all night long as he was pressured on 42.4 percent of his throws, the sixth-highest rate among QBs in Week 8. Under pressure Cutler’s accuracy percentage dropped to 36.4, which was the second-lowest rate among all QBs this week; his passer rating dropped from 124.8 when kept clean to 53.1 while under pressure.


Top offensive grades 

TE Zach Miller, 83.2
HB Jordan Howard, 81.9
RT Bobby Massie, 80.1
WR Alshon Jeffery, 66.1
G Ted Larsen, 61.5 

Big game by Jordan Howard leads Bears offense to victory

Jordan Howard got off to a fast start with a 69-yard run on Chicago’s third offensive play in the game, setting them up for a field goal to take an early lead, and from there they just continued to ride their rookie HB all the way to a win. At PFF we have a statistic called elusive rating, which is a formula that attempts to distill the impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking in front of him. Howard finished MNF with an elusive rating of 92.3, which ranked fourth this week among all HBs who saw at least 10 carries. Howard forced five missed tackles on his 26 carries (plus another one on a reception) and averaged 4.62 yards per carry after contact, which trailed only Mike Gillislee in Week 8. Despite Howard’s very impressive performance it was TE Zach Miller who led the offense in terms of overall grade. Miller hauled in seven of his ten targets for 88 yards, with four of those seven catches resulting in a Bears first down.

Top defensive grades

DE Akiem Hicks, 88.8
ILB Jerrell Freeman, 88.4
OLB Willie Young, 83.5
S Adrian Amos, 82.3
DE Cornelius Washington, 81.0

Front seven shuts down Vikings’ offense

There were a few standout performances on the Bears defense, and no one made more of an impact down the stretch than Akiem Hicks. In the fourth quarter Hicks had a sack and four hurries on 11 pass rushes. Pernell McPhee, Cornelius Washington, and Willie Young each also had four pressures of their own on the night. Jerrell Freeman had six defensive stops, with four coming in coverage as he allowed four catches for just 26 yards. Safety Adrian Amos also played well in coverage, allowing three catches for a total of ten yards.

 Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback grade: Sam Bradford, 67.9

Bradford can’t overcome pressure

It was a tough night for the Vikings offense all around. Bradford completed three of eight passes targeted 10-plus yards downfield, including two off-target misses on deep balls. In what may seem surprising, Bradford was pressured on only 16 of 42 dropbacks on the night (plus another that was nullified by a holding penalty). But when he was pressured, it often came quick, from multiple directions and the effects were major. On those 16 dropbacks, he was sacked five times and completed just four passes for 67 yards.


Highest offensive grades

C Joe Berger, 80.7
LG Alex Boone, 76.5
WR Stefon Diggs, 73.5
LT Jake Long, 72.7
WR Adam Thielen, 69.2

Mixed performance from offensive line 

It certainly wasn’t a great outing upfront by the Vikings, but the performances across the line were not all bad. Center Joe Berger gave up one pressure — a sack — on 43 snaps in pass protection, and had a couple nice blocks in the run game. Alex Boone didn’t yield a single pressure in 32 pass block snaps before leaving the game. The biggest issue was the right side of the line. RT T.J. Clemmings allowed eight total pressures and had another play where he was called for holding that nullified his ninth pressure from being counted. Clemmings also directly gave up three run stops. It was a tale of two halves for RG Brandon Fusco, who didn’t allow a pressure in the first half, but gave up five in the second. Maybe the most concerning aspect of the night for the Vikings though, was the Bears’ ability to generate pressure despite blitzing only twice in the game.

Highest defensive grades

DT Linval Joseph, 88.3
DE Everson Griffen, 79.1
S Anthony Harris, 75.6
CB Captain Munnerlyn, 75.5
LB Eric Kendriks, 73.3

Linval Joseph shines despite Vikings loss 

Linval Joseph was a force for Minnesota on Monday night, leading the defense with an 86.8 run defense grade while gaining four total pressures on 20 pass rush attempts. Chicago may have had success running the football against their division rival, but it didn’t usually come where Joseph was. The Bears ran the ball 15 times between the inside shoulders of their guards, on those runs they averaged 3.1 yards per carry; they had 13 runs that went to the outside of their guards, on those runs they averaged 8.5 yards per carry. On the back end of the defense, this was not a good game for CB Xavier Rhodes, who only “allowed” four catches on ten targets for 61 yards (while also breaking up a pass) but was fortunate to have not given up more. Cutler’s overthrow to Jeffery in the end-zone on Chicago’s opening drive came after Jeffery beat Rhodes on a move to the outside; and Jeffery later dropped a would-be touchdown in the endzone also while Rhodes was on him in coverage.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Jordan Howard 

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Thinkaboutit

    Mandarin Chinese
    Rocket science
    Why my girl is mad at me this time

    All things that I’ll understand before I can find out why t.j. clemmings is starting. How can this dude be so bad?

    • Craig W.

      Amen brother

      • cka2nd

        And why is Sirles sitting?

    • Joe Doe

      Cleveland is selling. But how high is the price for Joe Thomas?

  • dlund6cutler

    Man if the Bears worked on there secondary we might have a top ten Defense.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Fans of several other teams are probably thinking the same thing. All Chicago fans care about right now is getting two more wins from the Cubs.

  • Vitor

    I know that 82 is a great grade in PFF metric, but I still think it’s low for what Howard did yesterday (92.3 elusive rating against a top 5 defense). Some hint on why it wasn’t higher? He didn’t fumble (which usually brings the grade a lot down) or did anything wrong (at least it’s what I saw).

    • Phil

      Running back is one of the positions where their PFF grade is always generally lower than other positions. The top 4 overall graded RB’s currently are Bell, D. Johnson, Elliot & Ajayi. None of them are graded above an 82. I think an 82 grade for a game then is extremely good for a RB.


    Not sure how they come up with their results, but I know John “Chucky” Gruden would argue in disagreement with the results.

    *Mixed performance from offensive line

    It certainly wasn’t a great outing upfront by the Vikings, but the performances across the line were not all bad*