Well, Week 1 is in the books in Chicago. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t always pretty, but since when is that the primary way we bring W’s home in the Windy City? And in typical Bears fashion yesterday at Soldier Field, the Bears won with special teams (a 58 yard field goal by Robbie Gould, the best in the biz), take-aways (2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, one of which was recovered), and great offensive line play….wait….come again? You read that correctly. The Bears re-vamped offensive line allowed ZERO sacks. There was pressure and Cutler had to rely on his feet a few times, but for the first time in this Bears fan’s memory, Jay Cutler was able to stay off his back for an entire game. And in a game where Cincinnati appeared to be the better team for three quarters, the Bears hung in there long enough for Jay Cutler to lead the Bears back from 11 down in the second half.
A few highlights that give us something to be excited about:
-The O-Line looked really good, and will continue to get better. The Bears ran really well behind the rookie right side of Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, and Cutler got the ball out earlier than normal.
-Matt Forte played a big role and looked really good. 91 all purpose yards and a touchdown, and the Bears continued to go to him even when down, a credit to the play calling.
-Aside from a few bad drops early in the game, Jay Cutler’s weapons got opportunities and looked good. Brandon Marshall racked in over 100 yards and a TD, and newcomer Martellus Bennett reminded us that no, it is not scientifically impossible for a tight end in a Bears uniform to catch a pass. In fact, his touchdown catch in the back of the endzone was flat out stunning.
-The Bears D still knows how to take that ball away. The Bears corners picked up where they left off during last year’s “Pro Bowl” season, and in the first season without Brian Urlacher in the middle, the linebacking corps looked great, particularly James Anderson and Lance Briggs, who both made big plays.
But it was far from perfect. Like I said before, the Bengals played well and for most of the game seemed like the better team. A few bad penalties and some errant time out calls late in the game and the Bears don’t even get a shot to come back in this one. So, plenty to work on going into next week. Here are a few to keep an eye on.
-The defense had trouble getting off the field. The Bengals converted 7-11 third down conversions. The take aways were great, but they can’t continue to depend on them going forward. I was also underwhelmed by the D-Line, who did not apply enough pressure to Andy Dalton.
-Better corners will find their way to Brandon Marshall before long, and Alshon Jeffrey and Earl Bennett are going to need to get more involved and become bigger factors to draw attention from BMarsh. Everyone’s scouting report coming in will say that Cutler favors Marshall, and he did nothing to dispel that this week.
-Cutler’s high risk, pin point passes payed off this week, but they are risky. Plus he threw one right into the arms of Vontaze Burfict on an extremely important drive that could have cost them the game. He needs to improve his decision making.
-They need to get plays in faster and Jay needs to make quicker decisions at the line to avoid blown time outs. Too many bad time out calls that could have really hurt had a few other things not gone their way.
Up Next: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota D looked really bad against the Lions, giving up 34 points and almost 500 yards. Christian Ponder turned the ball over a lot and it won’t get any easier against the Bears “go get it” defensive mentality. The key, which is no secret, will be to stop AP. If this week was any indication, Peterson would run right over our defensive line. Need to see improvement there. But if the Bears offense continues to improve, as I believe it will under Trestman, they should be able to score early and often on their way to 2-0.