I haven't seen too many people overreacting to a 41-13 preseason blowout (a somewhat misleading score, since the Bears racked up a healthy 414 yards of offense and had the edge in time of possession), so I'm happy about that, although maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. There were some interesting things to take out of the first half, however (where the score was 13-6 before the starting defense, which was without Lance Briggs to begin with, left the game). Here's my observations:
- Matt Forte didn't carry the ball much, since the team seems interested in protecting him from injury with the contract dispute still up in the air, but he looked very effective in the screen game, a huge component of what Martz likes to do to negate the pass rush.
-Earl Bennett (The Black Bobby Engram). 'Nuff said.
-The First-Team Defense: They forced three and outs on the Giants first two drives and held the Giants to 13 pts despite being victimized by poor field position (especially after a 73 yard kickoff return that preceded the only TD they allowed. They held Eli Manning to 78 yards on 16 attempts for a meager 4.9 YPA. All in all, good work by the first team unit, which is good, since the second team unit spent 2 1/2 quarters shitting all over themselves.
- Jay Cutler: 12 of 21 for 171 yards in one half (8.1 YPA, 14.5 YPC) is pretty solid for an exhibition game where Martz was clearly testing his ability to work the 7 step route tree against a tough pass rush, but the numbers are actually even better when you consider he suffered from four dropped passes (one of which cost him a TD pass) and Hester also fell down on what would have been a wide-open TD pass. The one sack of the game was his fault and he needs to do a better job of throwing the ball away, but I was very pleased with the vast improvement from last week.
- The offensive line: 1 sack (that wasn't even their fault). Very promising. The two false starts and the hold were concerning, but that'll happen given the youth on the line. The important thing is that they kept Cutler clean. If mental mistakes are the biggest problem, this line is definitely improved from last year.
- Roy Williams: I'm willing to give the Roy Williams Experiment some time, especially since Johnny Knox is still there in the wings as insurance, but man, Roy did himself no favors last night. He dropped two third down passes from Cutler, looked terrible blocking for Forte on the screen and seemed to be lagging behind elsewhere. Good luck, Roy, because the fans are out for blood in Chicago.
-The Second-String Defense: Well, that was hideous. Oh well. You can only hope to contain David Carr, not stop him.
-The Special Teams: Very rare to see a Dave Toub unit get torched like this. A 73 yard kick return and a blocked punt? Surprising, but such a rarity that I wouldn't be concerned, although it did contribute to the misleadingly-lopsided score.
-Eli Manning: I just don't like looking at him.
That's all for now. See ya Saturday night. Go Bears.