So watching the first half of tonight’s game, I ran the gamut of emotions. But I’ll break down my thoughts. First, special teams. No worries here, though it’d be nice if the Bears had a backup long snapper.
Offense. Clearly the pass-blocking is going to be the focal point of this performance, with Lance Louis being blown off the ball by Tommy Kelly and Chris Williams looking like he’d never played left tackle before. (I’d be surprised if Louis is the starter next week.) I will be cautious with my overall negativity as I just don’t see the Bears using the formations you saw tonight as frequently as you saw them tonight. And if the Bears have struggled to block early, they’ve always been quick to add help to a side of the line.
An issue that has now emerged in two consecutive games is Jay Cutler’s tossing the ball well over the head of Johnny Knox on both complete and incomplete passes. If Knox is going to be the #1 guy, Cutty is going to need to get the ball down. On the flipside, the receivers need to catch the ball. Olsen and Hester both had silly drops that could have resulted in big gains.
The positive notes? Jay Cutler has the best scrambling ability we’ve ever seen in navy and orange. And the running game looks in midseason form, with the addition of the Chester Taylor screen pass bringing a much-needed dimension to the offense. I’d like to see Matt Forte cut more balls to the outside but he looked like the forte of 2008 tonight.
Defense. Ugh. I’ll start with the positives. I liked Julius Peppers’ work against the run. I liked our linebackers very much, especially after Brian Urlacher took to the bench. Nick Roach has become a real player. I liked seeing Chris Harris, a safety, coming up to make hard hits.
I didn’t like much else. The plague of the Lovie Deuce was on display tonight. A lack of pass rush. Wide open tight ends over the middle. Screens going for distance. Failure to get off the field on third-and-long. Danieal Manning trying to tackle professional football players. On and on and on. This defense has a lot of work to do to keep the offense from needing thirty a game to win every week.
Overall. Still a glorified practice but the pressure escalates next week against the Cardinals. (Side note: the last Bears v. Cardinals third preseason game was that which spawned Denny Green’s brilliant midseason rant.)