Like I've been saying any time I talk about these preseason games, that's all they are, preseason. Or as Allen Iverson might say, "Practice." You get guys that look good later in a game, but we have to remember they're playing against other third stringers or camp bodies, and just because a first string player or unit looks awful doesn't mean he/it'll be awful when the games matter. That being said, let's take a look at some of the things I liked, then the things I didn't...
- Thought the Bears had some very good run blocking at times. The game in general was an offensive cluster, which we could have anticipated given the shortened practice time, but there were some nice runs being ripped off.
- Barber and Unga both played like true traditional power backs. Barber mowed down several Bills second-stringers that got in his way and continually got decent yardage, and Unga had a nice 27-yard run, a couple other nice runs, and his performance culminated in a five-yard complete pile-push to get a first down, which no Bills player wanted a part of. Kahlil Bell ran very well himself. Against third stringers, sure, but he definitely showed a bit more than before.
- Quarterback play was pretty strong when it got a chance. When you're collectively sacked nine times, you don't have many chances, but the quarterbacks generally took the chances they had. Hanie's touchdown was a very nice point, and Enderle displayed a decent deep ball on a couple of occasions, once to Kris Adams and again to Dane Sanzenbacher, which led to a defensive pass interference call. Enderle misread how open Kyle Adams (the tight end) was and waited too late to throw the ball too hard, leading to the tipped then caught interception. One criticism pointed out was Hanie seemed to be holding onto the ball too long.
- Defense as a whole held the Bills to just 190 yards of offense, though how much of that was just sloppy disorganized play and how much was actual Bears defense is up to discussion. Constant overthrows, balls off hands...
- Special Teams, however, definitely special. Knox had a seventy yard kick return and another decent punt return. Dane Sanzenbacher was back returning punts for a while and had a decent return. Craig Steltz recovered a fumble on a kickoff return, which was negated by that new "five yards back" rule. Sorry, Dane.
- We didn't really learn as much about the receivers as we'd hoped to because of how often the quarterbacks got planted, but Kris Adams stood out pretty well, appearing to be Enderle's favorite target. Sanzenbacher had one target with no completions, and Andy Fantuz got nothing thrown his way.
- Nice work by Tim Jennings drawing an OPI against Steve Johnson.
- Dez Clark had a catch. Remember him?
- I know it's against third stringers, but watching Bell run for the first down on 4th and 1 was well executed. - patient and taking the first opportunity.
- The interior line had a very good game. Melton made a nice run-stuff on the first drive, Okoye had a pair of sacks, Paea had a pressure. Not much noise out of the ends, but so it goes.
On to the dislikes...
- Right out of the box, pass protection. As I said on Wednesday, the Bills are moving to a more-aggressive blitzing 3-4 defense. What do the Packers have? Blitzing 3-4 defense. What gives the Bears trouble? Blitzes and any kind of line rush. Several times the interior line was just obliterated. One of Shawne Merriman's two sacks came right through the middle, and NT Marcel Dareus picked up a sack. One snap looked like the offensive line was drowned in a sea of white.
- Webb was called for holding on Merriman on Dareus' sack, a correction from when I claimed the hold was on one of Merriman's sacks.
- For every first down Barber and Unga make, Chester Taylor's bus ticket will they eventually take. For Taylor's limited time, he looked just as miserable as he was most of last season. I can't see a way that he sticks on the final roster.
- Minor quibble - linebackers, please be able to pick up CJ Spiller receiving out of the backfield. That first down was too easily allowed.
- Nothing out of big free agent acquisition Roy Williams.
- Nathan, please don't try to outrun anybody here. It was painfully aware that you can't. Speaking of running quarterbacks, they seemed to be the best quarterback performances of the first half, between Cutler, Thigpen and Smith running for first downs and Hanie's touchdown run.
- And speaking of runs... The Bears got gashed pretty good on the ground - four different rushers, including Brad Smith and Tyler Thigpen, had carries of ten yards or more.
Other things... Didn't mind Gould being sent out for the 56-yarder at the end of the first half, and it didn't miss by much. Seems like Podlesh is effectively replacing Maynard as a decent holder. Spencer Lanning's hold didn't look right immediately to me, but maybe the rewatch tonight will show me something I missed.
On a random note, why would the Bears' PA announcer announce how many tickets weren't used?
In grass issues, according to Biggs, the turf held up just fine last night. Not sure if that's "Just fine" as in literally fine, or "Just fine" as in "It'll resemble whatever it was last year."
To paraphrase Johnny Knox during his interview yesterday mid-game, he said regarding Roy Williams "Without competition, you don't get better." He seems to be handling his demotion just fine.
According to the broadcast team, Frank Omiyale's nickname is Inspector Gadget. What, no "Go Go Gadget Good Lineman?"
Didn't see anything wrong with choosing to kick from the 30 on the open. How can you test special teams coverage when there's no return? Rather that be done in the preseason than against Atlanta or New Orleans.
Injury news... Corey Wootton left after the opening kickoff with a knee injury and did not return, though Sean Jensen says Wootton looked fine leaving the locker room. Zack Bowman left the game with a head injury in the second quarter and did not return. Can't find any reports on him and he was yukking it up on the sidelines, so I think we can assume precautionary, but he's okay.
Also, as I mentioned last night in the recap and alluded to above, the game will be re-aired on NFL Network at 7 PM ET/ 6 PM CT.
Anything else you noticed from last night's game? Let's talk about it!