So, pretty much last night's game sucked for us Bears fans, going down 31-3 in the pre-season opener against the Broncos, yet there is far more to be optimistic about than what meets the eye. Thanks to David Taylor's link, I was able to watch the game online, and even as painful as the final score was, some light was shown. Let's see what Optimist Prime can find, shall we?
1) Immediate Impact From Rookies - Shea McClellin looked rather fantastic in his debut, dropping Caleb Hanie for a 10 yard sack (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and picking up a few more tackles as he showed flashes of excellence at such a young age. He looked exactly what we need as a true pass rushing specialist at DE. He does need to improve against the run, but he did show potential on a few plays. And, he's got such a high motor and passion to sniff out the ball-carrier. Alshon Jeffery made some good, tough catches a pro receiver is expected to make, using his body to shield off defenders while demonstrating good hands. He does show problems against press coverage, but again that will be remedied with more playing time. His superb hands and route running will help him quite a bit in his immediate future. Everyone else, from Brandon Hardin and Greg McCoy making plays in the secondary, to Evan Rodriguez looking solid, all showed potential, in what was a great first impression by Phil Emery's draft class.
2) Flashes of Pass Protection From Offensive Line - Yes, I said it, pass protection. The Offensive Line still had a poor showing (especially Chris Spencer), but there were times where the QB had time and a pocket to throw from against an incredibly talented pass rush. The game plan was very "vanilla" where Jason Campbell wasn't being asked to take shots down the field, perhaps because he is coming off of a shoulder injury and the game plan was designed to have a slow and easy transition, instead of throwing the book at them. It was boring, and not much was accomplished, but the OL did show a few nuggets (Chilo Rachal looked solid IMO) against a Jack Del Rio coached Front 7. They still need a ton of work done on the OL before Cutler and Forte line-up with them next Saturday, but there's some hope. I honestly think most of these sacks surrendered from the 1st offense came from good coverage and poor timing from the QBs, not necessarily the OL by itself.
3) Solid Pass Rush From Defensive Line - With Julius Peppers sitting the game out, I really wondered how the pass rush would be effected with his absence. Not only did Shea McClellin churn out a great performance, but so did the majority of the DL. Corey Wootton turned a lot of skeptics, into potential believers, with him showing he can constantly beat his guy one-on-one and get in the QB's face. Nate Collins played rather well at DT, treating the opposing QB like a rag doll. Cheta Ozougwu, a previously and completely unknown rookie from Rice, blew everyone out of the stadium with his pass rush. Shoot, my guy Brian Price got in the action at times, along with DeMario Pressley at DT. Pretty much every single DL on this roster made plays and rushed the passer, a very good sign since Julius Peppers wasn't even playing last night. If they could rush the passer like they did without Julius Peppers last night, just imagine what will happen once he comes into the line-up?
There are plenty of other positives to take from the game, from solid secondary play, to seeing a lot of the new additions making plays, but those were the 3 main ones I noticed last night. Yes Bears fans, J'Marcus Webb is still J'Marcus Webb, and there are still issues that need to be addressed, but there are signs that we all should be encouraged from after last night. Bear Down, and Sound Off!