There's plenty to be excited about and concerned about regarding yesterday's performance by the Bears. Given that this was a win, we'll start with the good:
1. The wide receivers. From Earl Bennetts 4 catch, 80 yd performance, to Hester's game winning td catch, to the fact that they were both in single coverage all day because Johnny Knox was drawing double coverage (and he punished them the one time they left him open with 7 yard td catch), this group of wideouts continues to progress every game. As of right now, and of course its early, Hester is on pace for a 997 yd, 10 td season, Bennett is on pace for 896 yards, and Knox is on pace for 848. Throw in Greg Olsen, who's become almost an afterthought after Hester's big game and Knox's earlier performances, and once again I have to state that this team has some serious weapons.
2. Jay Cutler. This guy, of course, is the offense's greatest weapon. For the second straight game he had a passer rating over a 100 (it was a whopping 126.4, actually). For the third straight game he drove the team down the field to put them ahead late. Sadly, thanks to Vasher, he was only rewarded for two of those. As much hand wringing as there was over his opening debut, is there any doubt now that Jay Cutler are who we thought he were?
3. Lance Briggs. This guy is holding the defense together right now and has finally emerged from Urlacher's shadow (well, at least to the point that it's getting noticed outside the organization. Most people who've watched the Bears closely would say Briggs has been the man since the 2007 season). His diving interception was a fantastic play and it came right at a time when the team desparately needed it.
4. Nick Roach. When Hunter Hillenmeyer went down I wondered how much worse things could get for the Bears at linebacker, and yet Roach stepped up and played a solid second half. He read and reacted perfectly to help break up that last pass by Seneca Wallace.
5. The defensive line. Yeah, Seneca Wallace did a good job of making plays on the run, but the defensive line still registered at least 2 sacks (they had 3 today, for 9 on the season) for the third straight game and there's no doubt several Wallace incompletions and the Briggs interception came from poor throws he made while flushed out of the pocket. Marinelli is paying off better than even Lovie predicted this offseason.
1. The secondary. Wallace didn't have the greatest of games, and I understand it's hard for corners and safeties to avoid breakdowns when a quarterback can scramble and buy as much time as Wallace did. The catches Nate Burleson made (9 catches for 109 yds) were just inexcusable. The tackling by the secondary was also poor, which sadly is unsurprising at this point. The Julius Jones touchdown reception was just brutal, especially when he got past Tillman, who swatted for the ball and tried to get a takeaway rather than just wrapping up and finishing the play.
2. The offensive line. The run blocking is just pathetic right now. The pass blocking has been somewhere around decent (though they did give up 2 sacks) since the Green Bay game, but not exceptional, but the run blocking has just been atrocious. They are not re-establishing the line of scrimmage at all, and the backfield penetration is concerning. Lovie is adamant that Pace and Omiyale are not likely to be benched any time soon, so any hope of Beekman and Shaffer helping out needs to put away for now. Its up to the guys that are out there to play better, and that includes the venerable Olin Kreutz. How many times do different Bears quarterbacks have to fumble the snap before someone, anyone, points out that the common denominator is Kreutz? I don't hold him blameless. This unit just needs to get its head of its collective ass and start pushing people back.
3. Jim Mora, Jr. This has nothing to do with the Bears, and he certainly helped them yesterday just by being out there, but I really just don't like that guy.
I realize a lot of people are mildly upset because they expected the Bears to beat up on a team that was missing some starters and was awful last year, but they need to realize that nothing is going to come all of that easy for these Bears. The offense is slowly getting there, but it's still a work in progress (you know, scoring points before half time would be progress), and this defense has actually performed admirably without Urlacher and with a patchwork secondary. As long as Cutler is back there under center and the defense continues to just hang in there, they'll have a chance at winning every ball game they play from here on out. They won't, of course, but I still think at the end of this regular season they'll have been on the right side enough times to get them into the playoffs.