The Chicago Bears gave their fans exactly what they were looking for in their home opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Jay Cutler made it interesting, early on, by throwing an interception that was returned 5 yards for a touchdown (on an attempted screen pass to Matt Forte) but that was the closest the BEARS came to being threatened. Cutler got off to one of his roughest starts as a BEARS QB completing just 1 of his first 12 passes but shook off the horrid start to finish the game 21 of 35 (60%) for 333 yards, 2 touchdown passes (3yds to Brandon Marshall and 42 yds to Alshon Jeffery) and the one interception. Newly acquired Brandon Marshall was targeted 15 times and finished the day with 9 catches for 119 yds and a TD and rookie Alshon Jeffery snagged 3 passes for 80 yds and a TD (a 42 yd beauty deep from Cutler). Marshall, oddly enough, dropped 2 potential TD passes so he could've had an even BIGGER game than he turned in.
Matt Forte (16 rushes for 80 yds and TD & 3 catches for 40 yds) and newcomer Michael Bush ( 12 carries 42 yds 2 TDs) combined to rush for 122 yards on 28 carries and 3 TDs. The BEARS offensive line rebounded from a shaky start (2 sacks allowed) to open up lanes in the run game and gave Cutler adequate time to make plays downfield in the passing game. Cutler looked sharp, after the shaky start, and looked to have command of the offense as he audibled quite a bit to put his team in better position to execute.This was a far cry from what we saw under the Martz regime where Cutler was forced to eat the ball on plays that were absolutely doomed from the snap. The good news is this offense should only get better and more explosive as the season progresses. The bad news is the BEARS don't play the re-tooled, struggling Indianapolis Colts every week.
|BEARS QB Jay Cutler leading the offense against the Colts|
The BEARS defense had it's "day in the sun", as well, forcing 4 turnovers (3 Ints and a forced fumble) against rookie sensation and #1 pick Andrew Luck (23/45, 309 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT). The rookie QB had his moments both good and bad. The good was his tremendous rapport with veteran WR Reggie Wayne (9 catches for 135 yds) and former college teammate TE Coby Fleener (8 catches for 82 yds). The bad, of course, were the turnovers 3 interceptions (2 on spectacular plays by former Colt CB Tim Jennings) and a sack fumble forced by DE Corey Wootton. The Colts didn't do their rookie QB any favors by running the ball just 11 times (2 attempts by Luck) and the defense wasn't able to answer the bell against a BEARS team that turned a 7-0 deficit into a 41-21 trouncing. Former Colt CB Kelvin Hayden was pressed into action when starting CB Charles Tillman excited the game with a lower leg injury (not deemed serious) and played well (7 tackles). Brian Urlacher (seeing his first LIVE game action of the year) was pulled early in the 3rd quarter as a precaution more than anything and hopes to be ready to go against arch nemesis Green Bay on Thursday Night. The Packers are coming off a tough home loss to NFC juggernaut San Fransisco are looking to avoid an (0-2) start.
The BEARS (1-0) have a prime opportunity to go up 2 games on their division foe, to start the season, and have lost 4 straight to the Packers. Jay Cutler has struggled against Green Bay's defense but hasn't had two WRs over 6'3" that can beat press coverage and go up and make a play for him in 1 on 1 situations either (in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery). This is as good a test as the BEARS can ask for to see if they are as good as their acquisitions and change in offensive philosophy (under Mike Tice and Jeremy Bates) say they are. The BEARS can also attack Green Bay with the 2-headed rushing monster of Matt Forte and Michael Bush. The BEARS defense will be faced the task of keeping reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packer's offense under control so their offense's run game can stay relevant. The Packers may be 2 seasons removed from a Super Bowl and 1 season removed from a (15-1) regular season but they are far from "teflon" and have some areas that can be exposed (defensive struggles against the run and pass and lack of a true rushing attack to complement Rodgers). Let's just see if the BEARS coaching staff can draw up the game plan to get that done and can Jay Cutler "slay a dragon" that's gotten the best of him since becoming a BEAR.
JerzeeWorld is Sports Director of www.sportzfam.com and can be followed on twitter @NiceTheGr34t