The Bears first team offense came firing on all cylinders tonight. The first drive, an 82 yard beauty marked by the first Cutler-Marshall bomb in a Bears uniform and two more great throws to Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery, ended in a TD, as did the third drive following an Israel Idonije strip sack. All told, Cutler and company racked up 17 points before exiting the game with over 6 minutes left in the first half.
On the other side, the first team defense looked equally crisp, with the defensive line getting consistent pressure and RGIII having very little room to do much of anything. They held the Redskins first unit to just 3 points on their first four drives.
That about sums up the relevant (well, as relevant as any preseason game gets) part of the night, so onto the individuals:
Jay Cutler: God's it's good to see him again, isn't it? Cutler came out very sharp and completed 5 of his first 6 passes for 99 yds. He threw a beautiful deep ball to Marshall on the first play, but was most impressive with his quick decisions and the darts that he threw in the intermediate game (20 yds to Marshall, 16 yards on a skinny post to Jeffery, an 18 yard laser to Hester after avoiding the rush). He misfired high to Bennett, and had one near-interception, but also had another deep ball to Marshall that could very well have been a TD that Marshall was unable to catch after he stopped his route too soon. Cutler also ran for another first down. All in all a very good night for #6 in his return.
Brandon Marshall: He started with a 41 catch on the first play and followed up with a 20 yard catch and run where he actually muscled over a CB for more yards, becoming the first Bears wideout to do so since, well, ever.
Alshon Jeffery: Confession. I'm totally writing this in the 2nd quarter because there's no way I'll watch this whole game. As I write, however, Jeffery just picked up a 34 yard reception on a beautiful catch and run. He has 3 catches for 62 yards, following his strong performance last week. The sudden surplus of talent at wide receiver for the Bears is startling and glorious.
The rest of the receivers: Earl Bennett and Hester added 3 catches for 41 yards from Cutler. Suddenly this is the most dangerous looking unit on the team.
Michael Bush: 5 rushes for 21 yds and 2 TDs in his role as red zone battering ram. Hopefully he's finally the answer to their #2 runningback woes.
The Defensive Line: Israel Idonije isn't quite ready to give up his starting job to Shea McClellin. The always underrated Izzy had 2.5 sacks and played well against the run. I love how they're rolling him inside to DT with McClellin at end to add more speed to their nickel pass rush.
The rest of the line played very well, though, as well. Toeaina added half a sack. Price and Melton made some nice plays against the run. Peppers recovered a fumble forced by Idonije. McClellin forced RGIII outside the pocket twice.
Updated for the second half:
Robbie Gould: He was 4-4 on field goals, including a 57 yard game winner. I love Robbie.
Eric Weems: Had a couple of nice returns and a great 33 yard catch and run.
Evan Rodriguez: the rookie has some nice moves and great hands. He had 3 catches for 49 yds.
Jason Campbell: True, it's only the second quarter but good heavens, that guy holds the ball FOREVER. Cutler was rushed a few times, but got made good decisions and avoided sacks. Campbell's been sacked three times and it's not even halftime. (Update: okay, he finished 9/15, 141 YDs with a 91.3 rating, but those sacks were awful).
Replacement Refs: They called pass interference on Charles Tillman on a ball that was uncatchable. Oh, and the receiver was out of bounds. But yeah, totally pass interference.
Sam Rosen: Apparently Gabe Carimi is actually named Ben, and Blake Costanzo is named Matt. Oh, and it's Jake Campbell. Somebody get this drunken bore a program.
That's all for now. The Bears got everything they could have hoped for out of their starters tonight. Hopefully that improve the narrative somewhat after the DOOM of Urlacher's minor surgery. At the very least it's only increased my excitement for the opener. Football, folks. It's back.