It's time at last. It's time at last. Thank Ditka and Halas it's preseason time at last. We've waited, we've prognosticated, we've pumped up players that might not even make the roster, and we've downplayed guys that may end up being diamonds in the rough. All statements about players could and might generally end as soon as those cleats hit the live field; and while the first game of the preseason is too soon for doomsaying, it's certainly not too soon for rays of beautiful orange and blue sunshine.
There were plenty of things to be worried about coming into the first game, and just as much to be excited about as well. Both statements are still true, but hilariously, most of what the national outlets wanted to worry about and focus on ended up being non-factors. On the flip side of that coin, the vast majority of what the fans wanted to focus on ended up being front and center. Let's stay as excited as we were before this game about the rest of the season, and I'll do my best below the fold to give you some reasons why that excitement should be overflowing after what some deemed an underwhelming performance.
1. The second play from scrimmage of the game...
I know what you're thinking, or more like what you weren't thinking. It's extremely tough to remember the minutia of a game a few days out, but with the magic of replays you can go back and see something very similar to what I saw then and now. First things first, yes Harris and Adams were doing nothing on this play. A shame to be sure, but what was fantastic to see was the immense amount of pressure coming from Peppers on the left side, and a surprising amount of effort from Anderson on the right as well. Anderson gets driven to the ground about a yard from the QB, Peppers is absolutely dominating whoever they have at LT. An already designed quick pass is forced off even faster than normal, the LT is driven into the QB and that slight bit of extra pressure is enough to get an errant throw that was a bit more focused away from being a pick six.
2. The blocking was nowhere near as bad as I'd feared.
It sounds strange to say, but the blocking from the first team offensive line was nowhere near as bad as I had thought when watching the game live. The sack on the first series was an absolutely abysmal block by Forte, but if someone is blocking abysmally I'd rather it be a normally good blocking running back than someone we're going to be relying on to protect our franchise quarterback. The pressure on the next play that ended the series was also somewhat of a concern on my first viewing, but on a second look it was the rookie Lance Louis showing growing pains by losing control of his guy and Olson just getting absolutely surprised and then waylaid. Again, not something you love to see, but we all knew that Louis was going to have a lot of growing pains being a rookie conversion product in a non-gelled line, and Olsen is Olsen. His blocking technique has improved, but at the end of the day blocking just is never the foremost thought on his mind.
So there were faults, but there were less of them than I was thinking we'd see, and quite a few were by non-linesmen. There were good things to be found on the line as well. Kreutz was without a doubt moving a lot better than last year. In fact, I'd like to call attention to the outside running play from the first series. Not only does Kreutz get out to block, but Omiyale pancakes the lightning bolt off of some Charger on the play, and had Kreutz squared up just a bit more Forte would have had an easy eight or nine yard gain. I'd love to see the line gel a lot faster, and I'd love to see the line get a lot more push on the inside runs, but it already looks better than last year.
3. Major Wright looks to have been a very good pick.
I'm not going to call for him to immediately be named a starter, but he really did make the case for the Bears making the right call by drafting him. He was all over the field, and was taking great paths to the ball the whole time he was in the game. Incredibly sound tackling one on one to top it all off, I would love to see him taking over at FS and moving Chris Harris up to SS at some point this year without a doubt, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to get enough reps before the season starts.
4. D.J Moore has finally got the right mindset for an NFL player.
D.J. actually looked pretty good in the game, but above all else he seems to have finally adopted a bit more of a hard-nosed approach to the game and the way he plays it. You could tell he had a lot more fire in the playing time he received, and was looking to prove he belonged on the field. While Moore is going to find it extremely difficult to break the starting lineup as anything more than a nickel right now, his continued improvement will give the Bears an immense amount of depth amongst the defensive backs.
5. The Wide Receivers made the case that many of us thought they would.
The moves Johnny Knox put on the Chargers defense were fantastic, and the only thing better than the moves were the way he was coming down with the ball like he had velcro on his hands. The fantastic leaping catch that really showed of his athleticism on the second throw proved to me that he is definitely the wide receiver of the present and future for the Chicago Bears. Devin Aromashodu definitely continued where he left off, even taking into account that he was playing against the second string defense at times, he looked extremely fluid and is going to put up some great numbers this year. Even the Droppapotamus rose from the ashes to put up a solid effort, and generally gave me warm fuzzies about our entire receiving group. I can barely wait to see Earl Bennett back on the field and working the middle as well, or a bit more usage of the tight ends like we've seen in camp.
So what about you? What did you see in the game that filled your sails until next week? Who did I leave out that really made a good impression on you during the game?