Tonight the Bears first-team offense came in with a lot to prove, if you're Hub Arkush, and were otherwise playing in a meaningless game according to everyone sane. Nonetheless, they performed well, with a few rather glaring mistakes in the form of two sacks and a brutal INT. Despite those hiccups that ruined two drives, two other drives ended with touchdowns thanks to a combination of some excellent run-blocking and a Chargers defense courteous enough to leave Marshall single-covered on four of his five targets (guess which one was the interception!). Trestman decided to pull the starters on a high note, so their night ended after four drives.
On defense, turnovers are still the story, with the team generating eight of them so far this preseason along with four sacks. The usual caveat that the preseason means nothing aside, this still looks like a Lovie Smith defense.
Finally, the big story of the night was the two rookies on the right side of the offensive line, and they certainly impressed. I'll discuss this more in the breakdown, so onto the specifics:
Kyle Long: Holy shit, this kid is strong. He'll make his fair share of mistakes this year, and his technique is raw, but you saw tonight why Emery believes in him so strongly: he's a goddamn animal. He was demolishing in both pass protection and the run game, and paved the way for much of the Bears success to his side of the field. He finished last week against Carolina with a +2.3 grade from Pro Football Focus and a nice spot at the top of the depth chart, tonight he showed everyone he's here to stay.
Jordan Mills: He wasn't as dominant as Long, and Long certainly seemed to be the greater contributor in the run game, but Mills held his own in pass protection, got some push in the run game, and made no mistakes. If he can repeat this performance next week he'll for sure be the guy in week one, and J'Marcus Webb should be very, very frightened.
Brandon Marshall: He missed last week, but his presence was impossible to ignore this week as he caught a pass to convert a 3rd down on the Bears second drive, then followed it up with a TD reception where he schooled an over-matched DB.
Matt Forte: He can still scoot. He got two great blocks from Jeffery and Bushrod to spring him on his 58 yard run, but he still gets credit for turning on the second gear and bolting away. As long as the offense starts with him, run or pass, good things will happen.
Jon Bostic: He's still making plays. He absolutely killed a man to break up a pass (and it probably should have been ruled a fumble), and he's done nothing to give anyone doubts about starting him week one. He got turned around on a touchdown pass again, but overall he's farther along than we could have expected. It was a good night for Phil Emery's 2013 draft class.
Marc Trestman: I assume we'll probably see a few attempts at going deep in game 3, or maybe he's saving those for the real deal, but so far I am pleased with the vanilla version of his offense. They led with the run tonight, moved the ball with bootlegs and controlled passes, and attacked all sides of the field. Still, I'd like to see them work in Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery more next week.
That Interception: I'm not putting Jay entirely in the bad category, he was 4/5 and had a TD pass and a 98.3 rating (so far this preseason he's 10/13, so, ACCURACY ISSUES TOTALLY FIXED GUYS), and even though some have criticized him for over-targeting Marshall, he was right to do so on the four completions, because Marshall was single covered. On the interception, however, he overreacted to pressure and forced it into double coverage to Marshall. It was exactly the kind of thing you'd hope to see him avoid, considering he's supposed to have other guys he can look to when he's under pressure this year. Last week's INT wasn't on him, but this one was entirely his fault. He also held onto the ball too long on the second sack of the night, but it was 3rd and 18 so he didn't exactly screw anyone but himself by taking a sack instead of throwing it away. Play smarter, Jay.
That's really all I have in the negative column. I was pleased with tonight's performance, mostly because no one got hurt. The only real takeaway that matters is that Mills and Long did nothing to dissuade Trestman from giving them another week in the starting lineup. Wouldn't it just be the damnedest thing if the Bears drafted not one, but TWO competent linemen? Oh, what a fevered dream that is.
That's all for now. Go Bears.