@ Green Bay (L 15-21)
I was only a little worried after watching Cutler in the 1st half of the game. Did we trade for another Rick Mirer? Would we start wondering what team Grossman wandered off to or if he was still on waivers? Nope. As the Bears moved into the 2nd half of the game, I started learning how it was to have a real Pro Bowl QB. Good footwork, mobile in the pocket and a rocket arm. Overall, the offense wasn’t smooth… The WRs looked inexperienced cutting off routes and Cutler could have thrown a few more interceptions with some of the passes he attempted and Matt Forte didn’t find much running room. After the first game, it wasn’t clear whether the Bears have a poor offensive line or our top 5 fantasy running back had lost a step or two. On the defensive side, the Bears gave up some big plays and had some trouble getting off the field on 3rd down which didn’t seem much different than last year. Urlacher was lost for the season but there had already been questions of his impact to the team as he has gotten older. The next couple games would tell us how much or little he would be missed. The defensive line looked pretty good but that may have been due to a poor Right Tackle for the Packers. As for our new defensive play caller, Lovie Smith seems even more aggressive than Bob Babich was last year but only time will tell how well that will work. Though it always hurts to lose to Green Bay there was hope after watching Cutler’s 2nd half performance. I came away feeling like we had a solid team to compete in the NFC North as long as the QB and wideouts could gel after a few games.
vs Pittsburg (W 17-14)
A hard fought defensive battle and some solid offensive drives made this an overall good game for the Bears. Matt Forte was quiet again but he’ll start getting yards as the offensive line gets more familiar with one another. There are 3 new starters on the line this year so I don’t expect it to be fluid after only a couple games. Chris Williams is essentially a rookie and Orlando Pace is a few steps slower so the chemistry will take time. Cutler found open receivers when needed and minimized his mistakes to help keep the Bears in the game. He moved well around the pocket while under heavy pressure, finding check down receivers which he seemed to ignore in the first game. And Knox had another strong game, showing he might become a weekly contributor for the offense, if not a #3 fantasy receiver by the end of the year. The defense played well enough and did well harassing Big Ben who is one of the hardest QBs to get down. I have high hopes for the defensive ends Alex Brown (unspectacular but solid) and Ogunleye (playing for a new contract) and if any defensive line coach can really make a difference, it seems Rod Marinelli can. You’ll take a 3 point win against the world champs any week of the year. I almost forgot… thank goodness for bad kickers!
@ Seattle (W 25-19)
As this game went on I couldn’t believe how well Seneca Wallace picked apart the Bears defense. He moved well in the pocket and seemed to find Nate Burleson on every play to the tune of 100+ yards. And who knew Julius Jones was decent running back. Aside from those thought, my biggest takeaway from this game was how ugly those Seahawk jerseys were… Cutler looked pretty good again and seems to be picking up Ron Turner’s west coast offense very well. In lieu of the run, he made quick, short passes to move the ball down field. The Bears offensive faired pretty well in a hostile environment where road teams typically struggle. My final impression of this game is maybe Jerry Angelo does know how to draft on offense. The receivers are looking better and better as the weeks progress but it begs the question: Do the receivers make the quarterback or the quarterback make the receivers. At this point I’d go with the latter but there is certainly more talent then I expected in this receiver group. And I almost forgot again… thank goodness for bad kickers!
vs Detroit (W 48-24)
Jay Cutler spinning as he leaped into the end zone and Matt Forte cutting and running for a few big runs makes me excited about this Bears offense. Because they started with good field position, they didn’t pile on the yards but did put up enough points to decisively beat a bad Lions team. We did get a look at a true #1 wide receiver, though, as Megatron was open all day. One day we can hopefully find one of those to go along with our #1 QB. Matthew Stafford looks like the real deal and should grow into the first solid QB the Lions have seen since Rodney Peete (?)… Sorry Joey Harrington. The 2nd half started with more electricity by Knox as he returned the kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. It seems the Bears special teams can make anyone a kickoff superstar as we’ve seen success from Hester, Manning and Knox over the past several years. This is a team the Bears should have beat demonstratively and they did despite a slow first half.
The NFC North will be a tough division with the Vikings and Packers and Bears doing well but it might be good enough to have 2 teams make the playoffs. After a strong first quarter, the Bears have a real chance to be one of those teams. Bring on the Falcons!