That was the best opening day win the Bears have had in my lifetime. The Bears dominated in all three phases in one of their most impressive wins, period, in years, but one that looks especially good for an opener. There were some sloppy penalties, and the five sacks, while misleading, weren't great, but other than that this is going to be one happy breakdown:
-Jay Cutler: Given the painful memories we all had of the last time Jay Cutler played a meaningful game at Soldier Field, it seems fitting to put him first since had a spectacular game. There were some tipped passes, including the one that Bierrmann made an incredible play on for the INT TD, and he should have thrown the ball away on three of the five sacks he took, but outside of that he played one of his best games as a Bear, if not ever. For the day he finished 22/32 (68.8%) for 312 yds (9.8 YPA) 2 TDs, 1 INT, and a 107.8 rating. Those are stellar and they really showed just how comfortable he's getting in this offense and just how dangerous he can be downfield when he's got time to scan the field.
-Matt Forte: He had a tough going on the ground early on, but finished with a respectable 4.3 avg (16 rushes for 68 yds) but, much like last year's opener, made his big damage through the air with 5 receptions for 90 yds and a TD. I like this team's chances if he's going to put up 158 yards from scrimmage weekly.
-Roy Williams: Roy made the first catch of the game and finished with 4 catches for 55 yds. Not a dominating performance, but impressive in that all four catches were for big first downs. He doesn't have to get 1,000 yds to justify his status on this team, he just needs to be a target Cutler can find to move the chains consistently. He was today.
-Devin Hester: 3 catches for 60 yards, with one very long reception leading to a touchdown.
-Johnny Knox: Knox, like Hester, had 3 catches for 60 yds. Four different receivers had over 50 yards today, a good sign of the depth this team has and the weapons Jay can utilize if he has time.
-Brian Urlacher: Oh man, this is the kind of game that reminds us all just why I get so angry when people say Urlacher is overrated. 10 tackles, 1 INT, and a fumble returned for a TD that absolutely broke the Falcon's back. Stay healthy, Brian.
-Henry Melton: My pick for the most improved player on this defense has been Henry all offseason. He's a bit undersized for a DT, but he has a quickness and violence to him that reminds me of John Randle. He had 2 sacks today and was a total menace.
-Julius Peppers: You know all about this guy, of course. He only had 2 sacks, a pass deflection, and a fumble recovery. No big deal.
-The rest of the defensive line: 5 sacks on Matt Ryan. They had consistent gap penetration all game long. The Falcons run game was mostly held in check outside of the 53 yard run and Matt Ryan had one hell of a time once he was forced to drop back on every down. Some idiot will find a way to criticize all of the yards the defense gave up, but Lovie-ball worked to perfection and the only numbers I know the Bears or anyone should care about are the 5 sacks, the 3 turnovers, and the 6 points allowed by the defense.
-Charles Tillman: He takes a lot of shit from the fans for playing how he's supposed to play in this defense, but today they had him playing tight on Roddy White very early on and he fucking owned him holding him to 61 yds on the day (just 7.6 yards per catch) and he had yet another of his glorious punches to force a fumble. Someday, when P'nut is retired, they need to build a statue of him just punching a football through the air.
Penalties: Too damn many (eight), along with some missed tackles. Perfectly acceptable opening day mistakes, but they'd best tighten things up soon. Winning the turnover battle 3-1 really helps.
Webb/Carimi: They actually held their own pretty well against two very good edge rushers in John Abraham and Ray Edwards (21 combined sacks last yr), but there were enough breakdowns and two holding penalties that really hurt. As I said, Cutler should have thrown the ball away on two of his sacks as he had plenty of time, and on the last sack of the game Cutler simply slid on what wasn't really a sack so much as a run for no gain, so they really only allowed 2 bad sacks, but you have to hope for some improvement primarily in the penalty department.
Matt Ryan: That was the weakest 319 yard game I've ever seen. The Falcons got destroyed by the Packers passing game in the playoffs and apparently decided they needed to get Julio Jones to compensate. Ryan made that look even dumber but not even attempting to go downfield until the game was well out of hand. He finished with an average of 6.8 YPA and a rating of 76.5 on 47 attempts, but was sacked five times and had a fumble that led to a huge Bears score. I've been saying for awhile I didn't think he'd ever be much more than an overrated game manager. Today he sure didn't prove me wrong.
That's all for now. I haven't been this jazzed after an opener since 2006. Hopefully this season has even more fun in store for us than that one. You all have a good night. Go Bears.
Also, I'm not not one for moralizing here, so I'll just say on the 10th anniversary of that horrible day....God Bless America.