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updated: 10/6/2013 8:57 PM

Grading the Bears: Week 5

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Game ball

Alshon Jeffery

OK, he's not Brandon Marshall. But he's not Mark Bradley, either. Alshon Jeffery just might be the best wide receiver the Bears have drafted since Marty Booker in 1999. Book this: Jeffery, the 6-foot-3 2012 second-rounder enjoyed his best day as a pro, catching 10 passes for a franchise-record 218 yards and a touchdown. For the season, he has 28 receptions for 429 yards (15.3 ypc). He had 24 grabs (10 games) in an injury-plagued rookie campaign.

Quarterback

4 footballs

The fumble at his own 13 was too reminiscent of Detroit last Sunday and Minnesota (Week 2), but it was Jay Cutler's only turnover. If Earl Bennett doesn't whiff on a fourth-and-2 pass, maybe Mr. Fourth Quarter pulls off late-game heroics again. Regardless, Cutler completed 24 of 33 passes for 358 yards, his most since he put up 372 yards against Detroit in the 2010 season opener. His 128.1 rating was actually better than Drew Brees' (120.0).

Running backs

2 1/2 footballs

Matt Forte plain dropped Jay Cutler's pitch on the game's first snap and it seemed to set the tone for the offense. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry but rushed only 12 times (55 yards). He also caught 4 passes for 40 yards, but he also missed an over-the-middle ball that he needs to catch. All that said, he needs more touches.

Receivers

4 footballs

If not for Alshon Jeffery's franchise-record 218 receiving yards and 10 catches, this grade drops at least one football. Saints DC Rob Ryan took away Brandon Marshall in the red zone. Earl Bennett's fourth-quarter drop on fourth-and-2 is something we rarely see from No. 80. Martellus Bennett caught an 18-yard pass, got upended and landed on the crown of his helmet. Later, on a similar sideline play, the tight end raced out of bounds.

Offensive line

2 1/2 footballs

The unit allowed 3 sacks on 3 blitzes in the first half, but the Bears finally figured things out and didn't allow another sack. For the most part, Jay Cutler had ample time in the pocket. The mic'ed-up ref kept saying "62 is eligible." No. 62 is meaty backup OL Eben Britton (6-6, 308), who was employed for extra protection, not to catch screen passes.

Defensive line

2 footballs

Where's All-Vowel member Matt Toeaina or Spice Adams? With Nate Collins, who had a sack, going down with a knee, and Henry Melton already done for 2013 with a knee, the Bears need DTs. Landon Cohen, who was recently unemployed, was getting regular snaps after Collins went out. Too many guys limping and too many guys not making plays.

Linebackers

2 1/2 footballs

Lance Briggs had good moments, especially against the run, and earned credit for a sack. But his neutral-zone infraction on fourth-and-inches in the fourth with the Bears trailing 23-10 was, well, not Lance Briggs-like.

Defensive backs

2 1/2 footballs

Charles Tillman punched out another football, which the Saints recovered, and continues to be a warrior. But Chris Conte and Major Wright need to do a lot more. Drew Brees did what Drew Brees does (29 of 35, 288 yards, 2 TDs). Ditto for monster TE Jimmy Graham (10 catches, 135 yards).

Special teams

3 footballs

Adam Podlesh averaged 45.3 yards on 4 punts and had a much-needed good day after the Bears had more kickers at practice than the Rockettes do at an audition. Devin Hester didn't seem too interested in returning kickoffs.

Coaching

2 1/2 footballs

Marc Trestman is a smart football man, but he's no Sean Payton. The Bears started slowly again -- they need to stop that -- and still haven't had a game where they played four consistently good quarters of ball.

-- Joe Aguilar

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