As we all know and are so happy to proclaim, the pre-season has kicked off! Now I know that many people have varying opinions about the pre-season and its significance, but I think that it is fun and useful. Granted, we are not going to see any tricks, lots of action from Hester, or major usage of our offensive weapons or options that John Clayton has drooled over. However, in the first couple of series when the starters are out we can glean some gems of information about different players and how they are performing. I am an eternal optimist and that will really come out in these pre-season stories. I think it is really hard to pin down guys who are "bad" in the preseason, but it sure is fun to get excited about players when they succeed!
I will really highlight the starters, but also take a look at anyone else who makes noise.
First things first, the Special Teams didn't do anything special, and I completely expected that. Davis and Wolfe brought in most of the catches. Wolfe showed some flashes of speed. I, for one, am beyond thankful for Adrian Peterson and his ST skills as he made a great tackle to prevent a runback for a TD; kudos to Robbie Gould for the same. Furthermore, Gould came out and does what Gould is supposed to do. Aside from missing a 50 yard prayer in the 1st he did his job.
In our first series the O started out crisp. Grossman looked like was having fun and was on point throughout the first two drives. He found Olson a couple of times; once with a guy glued to his back and once on the second read wide open about 12 yards out. Grossman believes that Olson is going to be an impact guy right away I concur, and some people are thinking along similar lines. Rexy had one play that really impressed me. On the second play of the first drive he found Moose on his 4th read along the sideline, oh boy was that a near perfect throw. Bernard Berrian made an appearance, and hauled in a good catch while being tightly covered on a slant pattern. There were several times when Grossman was facing pressure and he found Benson in the middle. I was really pleased with the last play of there first drive when he evaded a hit and stepped up before finding Benson in the middle again. It is hard to infer too much from two series, but I was happy with what Grossman is giving us. He did miss two guys on the second series, but overall I was happy.
Benson looks like he is going to be a great back if he can make it through the year. I liked the limited running I saw and he made some catches which show that he can do what Jones did last year in receiving. He didn't show too much to frown at except for getting baptized by a Texan safety. However, he redeemed himself on the second series when he ran up the middle, sized up the guy, lowered his shoulder and just plowed the guy (I think the same one) over and kept running for more yards. Bill Simmons recently dubbed this as one of the manliest moves in sports. I was happy to see it and can't wait to see more from him during the year.
We didn't see much Devin Hester action as I expected, and as we were all warned. He did make an appearance with the second team and made one good 13 yard catch for the first down.
I didn't like the penalties on the O-line, but again, its the pre-season so we can't get too jumpy.
I was also happy with our defense and what they brought to the table. I'm not gonna lie, I love the Bears defense. I am borderline crestfallen that I do not yet get to watch Harris and Urlacher wreak havoc, but I will settle for what I got. You got to love the fact that they opened with a 3 and out. The third play was great, because there was pressure on the QB by Adam Archuleta and Tillman broke up the pass. It looked like a strip and turnover, but it was ruled incomplete. Archuleta got pressure on the QB a couple of times and made some plays against the run. Jamar Williams had an appearance in some plays and almost got a pick towards the end of the second quarter.
Overall I was very impressed with two defensive guys. Mark Anderson and Trumaine McBride really made some good plays. With Anderson, I was so happy to see him active against the run. He made one good play in getting to the RB, and on 3 separate plays (the box score credited him with two tackles, but I counted four) Anderson beat his man and got to the RB from behind at or near the line of scrimmage. I was blown away by this. I know this guy is a freak of an athlete, but I never expected him to be as fast as he was. I can't wait to see him and Harris chasing guys in the backfield. Again, Anderson is freaky fast and made it known on the field.
Trumaine McBride also showed some promise. This guy is good and has a knack for making plays. He covered well and made a good ST hit. I know he is the fourth CB, but he has been touted as the star of training camp and it is easy to see why.
After a Griese pick on a bad read the Bears left their first team D in. I know that they are more protective of the high profile offensive guys, but it was interesting to me that they were left in for a third series. However, they came up with the goal line stand and kept the game in reach. As meaningless as some say Pre-season games are I was glad to see a commitment to winning.
Griese did alright in his appearance. As I said before, made a bad read and threw a pick, but redeemed himself with his 6 other passed which were all completions and one being a TD. Orton also came in an engineered the win against the Texans 3rd team proving once and for all who had the best 3rd stringer QB in this contest. However, I have one major reservation about Orton. No neck beard! I heard that it as gone, but when I saw it I felt robbed. I am convinced that it was his source of power last year and I suddenly feel sad and disappointed all at the same time... but in all seriousness he played well and I was happy to see him perform. All in all, our QB's did well and put on a good show.
In other second team news Mark Bradley made some good catches. I think Bradley will have a good year for this team. I was also happy to see John Gilmore make some 7-10 yard catches. He was golden for a couple of touchdowns last year and fits well into his role as a short yardage TE. I was pleased with his performance on the second team along with Peterson, and Hester.
Again, I know this is the Pre-Season and that it hard to infer too much, but I think that we can at least say that the team was sharp and focused. I don't think we can immediately predict a fantastic 7-0 start like last year, but it was starting out on the right foot. I am excited for the next couple of games, and I am giddy for our defense to have a chance to knock Peyton Manning on his butt next week.