2013 NFL Grades, Week 9: Marc Trestman working magic in Chicago
2013 NFL Grades for every team from Week 9 of the NFL season. Let's talk about Rex Ryan and the Jets surprising 5-4 record.
The NFC North might've been thrown upside down on Monday night. The Packers looked like locks on Monday night with Jay Cutler out and suddenly there's a three way tie up top. At the center of the storm is first-year Bears head coach Marc Trestman, who doused Josh McCown in magic quarterback dust, waltzed into Lambeau Field, grabbed a victory and strolled out.
The pinnacle of Trestman's play-calling performance was a fourth-and-one situation in his own territory with the Bears up four points and just under 8 minutes remaining. Trestman saddled up, called a run to Matt Forte and picked up the first down easily. Punt there and Seneca Wallace and Eddie Lacy have a legitimate shot at moving down the field to win the game. Trestman didn't flinch and the result was a back-breaking, nine-plus minute drive for Chicago that essentially sealed the game.
Aaron Rodgers suffering an injury has a ton to do with the Bears succeeding, because their defense didn't do much. Shea McClellin had three sacks -- the same amount he had in his previous 20 career games -- including the takedown and knockout of Rodgers. Julius Peppers played well, including a pick of Wallace. But they got gashed by Lacy and James Starks on the ground game despite no threat of the pass.
Ultimately it was McCown, working under Trestman's tutelage, that really pushed the Bears to this victory. He only completed 53.7 percent of his passes and he only averaged 6.63 yards per attempt, but he didn't make a single major mistake and he threw a pair of absolute darts for touchdowns.
He spoke after the game about the "man with a plan" and how Trestman's approach to the Bears offensive gameplan changed things for him and the rest of the offense.
"It goes back to when he interviewed for the job. He had it planned out to the Super Bowl parade. You can imagine what our quarterbacks meetings are like," McCown said Monday night. "That's a man with a plan. When we're going through our reads if we miss a word -- if it's supposed to be either/or and we say and/or -- he'll say can you do that again please. Very politely, can you do that again. We're always nailing it down. Very precise. And he never lets off of that.
"That's the toughest thing in sports. It's not about if you have a plan, it's doing your plan."
Trestman's plan is working wonders. The Bears haven't been perfect and their defense isn't a legendary Chicago unit that you'd expect based on the team they trotted out the last 10 years. But this team can score, man. Adding Kyle Long and Jordan Mills in the draft and generally rebuilding the line, finally setting Matt Forte free and doing his quarterback-whispering thing has revitalized the Bears offensive identity.
It's possible Cutler could return next week and that's something that McCown would embrace. Obviously.
"Hopefully Jay comes back. This is Jay's team. This is his job. My job on this team is the backup quarterback," McCown said. "And what you want when your backup quarterback to do is step in and lead your team to wins, put them in position to win ballgames. And we got one. Hopefully Jay will be back."
Not that it would really matter. The way Trestman's got this team rolling on offense, there's a pretty good chance they'd remain afloat even if Cutler had to miss a few more weeks.
|Packers 27, Bears 20|
|A-||They did it against the Packers backup after Aaron Rodgers went down and Seneca Wallace came in, but the Bears won in Lambeau. And they did it with their backup Josh McCown, playing about as well as you could imagine. Matt Forte was electric as well. The defense made plays but wasn't exactly dominant.|
|C+||Brutal loss if Aaron Rodgers is out for any lengthy period of time. Eddie Lacy and James Starks looked fabulous and the offensive line did a fantastic job blocking. Seneca Wallace did about as well as he could. The defense simply couldn't stop the Bears when it mattered.|
|Colts 27, Texans 24|
|B+||What a stunning win. Colts were done at halftime and then the Andrew Luck-T.Y. Hilton connection got cranked up. The result was three touchdowns and a crushing comeback.|
|B-||Case Keenum's coming-out party got wrecked by Indianapolis. He and Andre Johnson were on the same page all first half and exploded in a big way.|
|Eagles 49, Raiders 20|
|A||The degree of difficulty because it's the Raiders certainly minimizes the Eagles victory. But you can't take away Nick Foles being -- quite literally -- perfect on Sunday. He threw seven touchdown passes and absolutely shredded the Raiders.|
|F||Blown out at home by a guy that everyone was burying is a horrible look. I get the Raiders aren't supposed to be particularly good but that was embarrassing. Foles carved them up and their offense continues to look boring and predictable with Terrelle Pryor.|
|Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24|
|C||BRUTAL loss. There's no moral victory by going into Seattle and getting out to a 21-0 lead when they cough up that lead and lose in overtime. You could see it coming and it still stings. Very nice game for Mike Glennon in the early going. Tough defensive effort in the second half.|
|C+||Monster comeback win to keep Russell Wilson undefeated at home in his career. But how did they get in that hole in the first place? Maybe they overlooked the Buccaneers but the run defense (Mike James shredded them) and lack of preparation for a winless Bucs team should be a concern.|
|Browns 24, Ravens 18|
|D+||Joe Flacco had almost as many rushing yards as Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined. That's not good. This defense didn't have an answer for the Browns passing attack. Also not good.|
|B+||Jason Campbell is ... good? He threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens. Greg Little was all over the place and the Browns completely bottled up the Ravens running game.|
|Patriots 55, Steelers 31|
|F||The Steelers gave up 55 points on Sunday, the most points allowed in a single game in their franchise history. That about sums it up.|
|A||They didn't need this win but it gets the critics off Tom Brady's back. Massive game for him and having Rob Gronkowski back helps a ton. We spend way too much time trying to bury Brady and the Pats.|
|Panthers 34, Falcons 10|
|D+||Another week, another bad performance from Matt Ryan. He threw three interceptions against a banged-up Panthers secondary as the Falcons continue to slide into the basement.|
|B+||Carolina's on an absolute tear right now, dismantling opponents each week. That they won big without Cam Newton being perfect is a good sign for the Panthers, especially against a division opponent. They're +72 in point differential over the last four weeks.|
|Cowboys 27, Vikings 23|
|C+||Good job, good effort for the Vikes, who nearly pulled off a stunning upset. Adrian Peterson was an absolute beast on Sunday and the defense did a good job mauling the Cowboys offensive line.|
|B-||Tony Romo shook off the narrative to march the Cowboys down the field for a game-winning touchdown. There are serious concerns with the Cowboys (offensive line, the defense) but if they lost that game the proverbial mess would've hit the fan all week with Romo and Dez Bryant. Again.|
|Jets 26, Saints 20|
|C-||Drew Brees was battered and bruised all day and still managed to throw for 382 yards. Jimmy Graham is a total freakshow. But the running game didn't get going and the defense -- particularly against the run -- was a nightmare. Tough loss. New Orleans doesn't play that well outdoors.|
|B+||Huge win for the up-and-down Jets who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. That sounds really bizarre, but Rex Ryan's doing a heck of a job coaching up this team of overachievers.|
|Titans 28, Rams 21|
|B+||Who would've thought Chris Johnson might show up and dominate? (Answer: no one.) He did on Sunday and posted a monster game -- 23 carries, 150 yards, two scores -- that helped the Titans push themselves into the playoff conversation.|
|B+||Zac Stacy was great again this week and keeps looking like a silver lining for the Rams in a brutal season. Kellen Clemens wasn't that bad. The Rams secondary did good work against Jake Locker but the Titans couldn't slow down Chris Johnson at all.|
|Chiefs 23, Bills 13|
|C+||No idea how the Chiefs even won by double digits. Alex Smith threw for 124 yards on 29 attempts and Jamaal Charles didn't top 100 total yards. This was their third-straight game against a third-string quarterback. But it was also their third-straight win.|
|C-||Valiant effort from Jeff Tuel, who gave the Bills a fighting chance. C.J. Spiller actually looked like C.J. Spiller and that was fun. A disastrous 100-yard pick-six ultimately sealed the deal for the Bills loss.|
|Redskins 30, Chargers 24|
|C+||Brutal set of goal-line playcalls from the Chargers to close out regulation. They had to kick and ultimately lost. Philip Rivers looked good and Keenan Allen straight-up dominated David Amerson at times. Tough loss on the East Coast.|
|B-||Alfred Morris ran really well, Darrel Young emerged as a short-yardage option and Robert Griffin III made it out of Sunday alive. All good things. The Redskins secondary got shredded, but what's new? Pierre Garcon with a monster game. Washington has the same record as this time last year.|
|Dolphins 22, Bengals 20|
|D+||It's easy to feel sympathetic for the Bengals here, but they played poorly and let the Dolphins back in the game. The defense didn't hold up after Geno Atkins went down. Andy Dalton made some really bad throws. Gio Bernard is special but BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn't. A.J. Green dropped balls. It just feels like a nightmare.|
|C+||Not a season-saving game by any stretch but Miami's got to be pumped about this win. Walking off -- even in safety-sack fashion -- is huge. Mike Wallace was involved. Lamar Miller ran well. Ryan Tannehill had some franchise quarterback moments. Cameron Wake saved the day. It all shifted very quickly.|
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