Why only the first half? Because it took long enough to dissuade me from doing the second half.
I realize this is a day late, but I wasn't able to get the game until this past evening. I watched the first half all the way through like normal. I then went back and spent a couple hours going play by play with rewind, slow-mo, and all that good stuff. DVR's are awesome. This is nothing mind-shattering by any stretch, but just what I was able to pick up. Let me preface this review by saying that this is of course a pre-season game, therefore none of this should be construed as me writing off the season or pencilling in a trip to Miami. I'll start with the offense.
Not a whole lot to say here. Cutler looked sharp. There were definitely a couple forced throws on the second drive, but nothing to be overly concerned about. The shot he fired off to Hester (which he under-ran) on the third drive was impressive. That ball had a lot of heat on it, and he threw it without his feet set, leaning on one leg. That was the kind of throw that a certain quarterback whose name makes me sick used to make back when he was tearing us up year after year. Hanie looked solid, and looks like he may be a serviceable back-up. I'd rather not find out, but it's still somewhat reassuring.
They looked surprisingly good. I've not been a big believer in the "we're happy with what we've got" line from management, but I feel a little better after tonight. Earl Bennett really impressed me tonight. He made a beautiful grab on the first drive that I thought for sure was going to end up in the dirt. Had a couple other nice grabs as well, and also looked solid in the return game. Devin Aromasomethingsomething had an outstanding catch as well, getting them down inside the 5. Rideau looked decent too, though he didn't come in until late in the half. Hester did nothing to convince me that he is going to be a #1 (or X or flanker or whatever you want to call it). He had a couple receptions and he did make a couple of nice blocks, but that was about it. He let up on the bomb that Cutler put down field to him (so now he's not a go-and-get-it guy in addition to not being a come-back-and-get-it guy), and it looked like he ran an in route instead of an out route leading to an incompletion on another play. The main issue seems to me to be an overall lack of awareness. It just looks like he doesn't always quite know what's going on. I guess that's Miami for you.
Good all around.
Prince Adam Olsen looked good despite a drop, and Des Clark was solid as usual. I didn't notice any obvious blown blocking assignments, but I wasn't overly focused on it either. Kellen Davis seems to be progressing well.
Forte looked outstanding. He was quick, he hit the holes decisively, and he ran strong and hard. There seemed to be no lingering issue from the hamstring tweak during OTA's, and I don't see a sophomore slump in the works. Kevin Jones had one nice hard run, and then he coughed it up the next time he touched the ball. If I remember correctly, he had some fumble issues in Detroit as well. Let's hope this was a fluke. Similar thoughts on Wolfe. He had a couple nice plays, but had a costly fumble that should have been an easy three for Gould at the end of the half.
This was another area I was concerned with, but the starters looked pretty good. Omiyale blew an assignment early on, but he's at a new position in a new system. It's going to happen from time to time. Pace, Kreutz, and Beekman's World all played well. Chris Williams looked decent, but did get beat a couple times. On the Cutler roll-out on the second drive (completion to Bennett), he got put flat on his ass. On a couple other plays he either got beat or got close to it. I also saw him let up on a couple plays, which didn't impress me. It's one thing to ease off when the play is already down the field. When the receiver is 4 yards in front of you, you need to be trucking upfield, not standing there like a 5 year old kid in right field. That being said, he's young and it's his first real action, so hopefully we'll see an improvement.
When the back-ups started coming in, I quickly stopped trying to keep notes. It wasn't pretty. The interior line looked ok, but the rookie at RT, Balogh, was not so hot. He was beaten by his man on the Hanie sack although his guy didn't actually make the play. He was beaten a couple plays later and was flagged for a fairly blatant holding call, where he damn near locked up and dry-humped the DE that went around him. Apparently that's not acceptable. Kevin Shaffer wasn't quite as bad at the LT, but he didn't impress me by any stretch.
What can I say? It's the Bears special team squad, and they were good as we've come to expect. Looks like we've got some nice options in the return game as well. Bennett and Knox both had a couple nice returns. Nothing even needs to be said about Gould. As long as he doesn't go all Vanderjagt on us, I think we're set for a long time at kicker. On to the defense.
I didn't find myself doing any happy-dances over their play, but I also wasn't horrified like I expected to be. I can't say anyone really stood out as great or terrible. There were some nice hits made, and it seems that Vasher remembered how to tackle, how to not fall on his ass, and how to keep his man in front of him. It may not be a return to Pro-Bowl form, but it's an improvement. Nice sack made on a blitz by Payne (Or maybe Steltz. I'm too tired of rewinding to check).
Briggs was Briggs. Tinoisamoa looked damn good, and I think he will be a big upgrade over Hillenmeyer. Hunter seems like a good guy, and he's a hustle guy which I respect the hell out of, but he doesn't have the talent that PT has. Urlacher seemed to come on later in the half, but he did not look good early on. He got flat out trucked by Jacobs a few times. He was not getting nearly low enough. If you don't get lower than the RB, especially one as big as Jacobs, you're not going to win that battle. It's a matter of leverage plain and simple. Another play that stood out was one of the blitzes that he was on. He came across the line with a full head of steam. He was then promptly stood up and brought to a dead stop by a stationary guard. As I said, he did seem to pick it up as the game went on, so I don't want to read too much into it.
The Ends played fairly well. Brown and Ogunleye both looked pretty good. Wale seems to have picked his game up some, and hopefully it will continue. AB looked good as always, though I did see him over-run a couple plays.
The one area of this team that really concerned me was the DT rotation. Most of my focus on the defensive drives was on the line, and I found nothing to feel confident about. The nose-tackle rotation was mediocre enough that I really didn't even notice who was in at any given time.
As far as the undertackle, well, some guy with a 91 jersey was on the field. It supposedly was Tommie Harris, but he sure as hell could have fooled me. I don't want to sound like an alarmist because again, this is preseason. That being said, Harris looked flat out bad. I don't mean bad for Harris, I mean straight out bad, shouldn't be a starter bad, why is he on the team bad. He disrupted the backfield a grand total of zero times. He was really, really slow getting off the snap. On one particular play, the o-line had all come out of their stances, and the rest of the defense had all fired off before Harris even had his hand off the ground. He was stood straight up by the lineman across from him on nearly every single play. That really wasn't much of a compliment for the Giants line, being that Tommie came out of his stance and stood straight up on his own on probably half the plays. Either his knees are completely shot, or he's terribly rusty and horribly out of shape. I'm absolutely praying that it's the latter because if it's not, then I think he's done, and I have yet to see anyone on our roster capable of doing what he used to do. If his knees are actually in that bad of shape, I think the best bet would be to put him on IR and hope like hell that a full season off is enough to heal him and allow him to be productive again. I know that sounds a little reactionary, but if he continues to play as bad as he did last night, he's not going to do us any good by being on the field. Let's all hope he was just feeling off and needs to get in game shape.
Overall, I was impressed with what I saw. There was some negative, but it was far outweighed by the positive. It left me feeling hopeful for this season, albeit concerned about the DT positions. One thing I noticed with the defense was how successfully they blitzed. It only resulted in one sack I believe, but it caused a lot of disruption and broken plays. The Giants have a pretty solid offensive line, so it was good to see them getting across and causing some havoc in the backfield. They did a lot of blitzing last year, but it was mostly ineffective.
The offense looked incredible. I've not see a Chicago offense look that sharp in a long time, except for the first half of '06, before Rexy had a complete psychological breakdown, but we don't need to revisit that again. We've played it out in our tortured minds over and over again enough times to last a lifetime. Please feel free to let me know if you agree with my assessment or not. After all, I don't do this for a living...