CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears rolls out to look for a receiver against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
There were lots of good things to take from such a game as yesterday's; there was also plenty of room to improve. Let's just get to the bullets...
- Right to the main area of concern, the offensive line and its four sacks allowed. Two of those were Cutler holding the ball long enough to warm up Nathan Enderle for a hundred-yard dash, one of them was on Cutler's little rollout to the sideline before he was tackled, and one he just had no chance on.
- That being said, the line looked fairly average - which is a major improvement from last season. Carimi got beat quite a few times in pass protection, but of course he's a rookie and still learning that part. Webb was being beat fairly soundly by Abraham, who picked up two of the sacks. Williams still has that one play per game that makes you wonder just what the hell was that, when he did everything short of wrap up Forte himself to have him tackled for a loss. And Louis left with an injury. Garza and Spencer were fairly solid as a guard/center combo... only with Spencer as the guard and Garza at the center.
- Blocking in general was overall solid, especially in space. Helps that the Bears have the playmakers they do, but the Forte screen and Hester screen never go for touchdowns (or close, in Hester's case) without the blocking they used with great effectiveness.
- As long as I'm talking about Hester, the only way he's not a receiver is if the definition involves being a number one receiver. As a playmaker, he's unbelievable. As a receiver, for a guy still rough at the aspects of the position, his speed and moves make up for a lot of it.
- Forte clearly wants to get paid. Pay him before his price skyrockets.
- The game was a textbook on how to play the Cover 2 - pressure with the front four, keep the play in front of you and limit the yardage, and force turnovers. The Falcons won the yardage battle - 386 net yards to 377 - and only managed six points.
- Speaking of turnovers, Cutler had one of the best games of his career and hopefully a performance we can expect more of later in the year. I'm not even going to hold that INT against him; not many times does a ball get batted twice and still picked up.
- And speaking of front four pressure, very few times did the Bears need to blitz to get pressure. Once, DJ Moore broke for a corner blitz, almost reached Ryan as he threw the ball. That ball was caught by Brian Urlacher. I also need to give a shout-out to Nick Reed - for a guy that didn't play last year, he looked very good in his refresher duties. And as long as we're giving shout-outs, Tyler Clutts had a few good blocks out there. Now can we just get him a better name?
- The newfound interior looks very solid as well - Melton and Okoye combined for three sacks, and the entire line was penetrating all day. Very nice to see anything out of the spot Tommie Harris held for so long.
- Webb, between you and me, those holding penalties? Please stop that.
- Spaeth looks every bit what Manumaleuna was supposed to be - solid blocking and a decent receiving option when needed, even though it's easy to catch something when there's no one breathing down your neck. Now if only we had that play to start last season...
- As long as we're talking about things that need to stop, um, Martz? That reverse you ran with Sanzenbacher? It didn't work in the postseason, it didn't work in preseason, it didn't work Sunday. I think it might be time to retire that. Just saying, plays that result in negative yardage usually mean they aren't working.
- ... Can someone explain to me how Cutler misses Kellen Davis on that comeback throw to the flat?
- Roy Williams had a modest stat-line, but I think we'd be generally okay with 64 receptions, 880 yards - which is what his 4 for 55 extrapolates to. Now if only he stopped with that first down gesture, I think we'd generally be okay with him too.
Injuries, Roy Williams left with a groin strain and Lance Louis had an ankle injury.
That's all I've got. Anything you noticed?