I wrote this paragraph once already. It was about how it was more of the same, blah blah blah, woe is us as Bears fans and then I remembered, it's the preseason. This game is a diagnostic, but it's not necessarily prognostic; that is, not winning your first preseason game doesn't mean you're doomed and you don't get to go to the Super Bowl (See: 2006 Colts, 2007 Giants.) It does, however, mean you've got some work to do, and that's exactly what this team is looking at.
It's obvious the Bears weren't taking this one particularly seriously, and the Chargers kind of were. Which is fine, and it's fair to feel how you like, but we'll start seeing some game-planning next week, and to a more extreme level in week 3. Let's save our big judgments for then.
-Cutler's decision making looked smart. Obviously wasn't in the game long, but strong footwork, and saw the field well. He also had a solid scramble on a 3rd and long that I think would probably have been him forcing a pass last year.
-Knox looks like a real-deal receiver out there. On his first reception, he put a move on Quentin Jammer, sold him on the inside route, and brought it back outside for the big 33 yard gain. It should be noted, too, that on that play Matt Forte picked up the blitzing safety and pushed him about five yards behind Cutler, giving him plenty of room to step up and time for Knox's route to develop. On his second reception, Cutler gets great protection from the line, but Cutler leaves the ball a little high, setting Knox to take a hit that he shouldn't necessarily need to take on the sideline.
-Forte had a pretty underwhelming game overall, the previously mentioned block not withstanding, on the first series, they tried to run it right several times. That would be between the two big question marks on the line, so it's likely these calls were to test out and see what they had, but it didn't work. Additionally, Forte threw out an absolutely terrible block on a DB blitz, giving up the sack on Cutler. This sack stalled the entire drive.
-The Offensive Line in the first series looked solid enough, but its play seemed to go downhill as the Chargers continued to throw looks at them. They'll probably want to start analyzing and coming up with ways to block 3-4 defenses, because they'll see them a lot this year.
-I've seen a lot saying the defense didn't show up, etc, etc, but to be fair to them, their first appearance was a 3 and out. Much like the O-Line, though, their performance seemed to get worse through the night. Tackling, which is something we've discussed ad nauseum here, was poor. The big one that comes to mind to me is when Briggs could have had the stop for a loss right near the sideline, but Mathews bounced off him and extended it to the first down.
-Major Wright is going to be a starting safety by the beginning of the season.
-Urlacher looks like he's back. Speed looks good, movement seems fluid. Healthy-looking.
-Not too much Peppers to be seen, but give it time.
-Tight Ends. Supposedly there were tight ends for the Bears in this game--I didn't really see them a whole lot, which is odd given the emphasis we saw on them in camp.
-Hanie was reasonably solid, if unspectacular. Spent time running for his life, and finally succumbed to the constant pressure when he got injured in the third quarter. I'm not sold he can be the backup for an extended period, but I think he could make it happen for a game or so.
-Aromashodu is back to his old tricks---I'd like to see him get some more time with Cutler this preseason.
-Cornerbacks' play leaves something to be desired still, but that could be sorted out by the more consistent pass rush that we're looking for.
-The first Chargers TD was the classic set of a CB getting beat, and the safety biting on a pump fake. (No offense, Mr. Harris). It's those kinds of breakdowns in coverage that they absolutely have to avoid, and would've been helped by consistent pass rush.
-Injuries to Hanie, Mannelly, Wright, Hillenmeyer, and more are very disconcerting in Game 1.
-To me, at least, Al Afalava was playing like he doesn't want to be on the team. His pick late in the preseason game really doesn't make up for what appeared to be totally blown blocking on the punt play, nearly getting Brad Maynard killed, and forcing Maynard to fight for the safety versus a sure TD.
So yeah... some good, some bad... I believe if you take them both you have the Facts of Life. We'll talk about it some more this week, and we'll start looking forward to next Saturday. Immediately.