What fans and experts agreed looked good on paper appeared equally impressive at Soldier Field this past Sunday as the Bears won their season opener against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. It's official; the Chicago Bears have a dangerous passing game, and if we see similar performances throughout the season, the Bears stand every chance of making the playoffs.
Let's just say that Jay Cutler throwing the ball to Brandon Marshall works. After a shaky (that's being kind) start from Cutler, he settled down and turned in a great performance against the Colts. Credit has to go to the offensive line, who, under constant scrutiny this off-season, looked good and gave Cutler the time and protection to do what he does best.
Cutler completed 21 of 35 passes, finishing the game with 333 yards passing and one touchdown. He did throw one interception that was returned for a TD, but let's forget about that for now, shall we?
Only Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees threw for more yards than Cutler this week, and the Bears passer also finished eighth amongst quarterbacks with 9.81 yards per pass attempt. I haven't always been the most vocal in my support of Cutler, but I have to say that I enjoyed watching him play and the Bears should feel fortunate to have one of the league's better passers on their team. I have always said that when given the correct pass protection, as he was afforded for much of Sunday, he is one of the most dangerous QBs in the league.
How exciting was it to see Brandon Marshall do his thing out there against the Colts? I thought he was one of the best receivers of the week, and had an excellent game. Granted, the Colts defense might not be the strongest, but never the less, Marshall was in the top three of wide outs with 119 receiving yards on nine receptions.
Marshall was Cutler's favorite weapon by a long way, being targeted 15 times, and finishing his first game as a Bear with 13.2 yards per reception and one touchdown. A really good regular season debut and if it continues, Marshall will move even higher up the rankings in terms of elite receivers.
Along with Marshall, rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery showed that his performances in training camp and in the pre season were no fluke. He caught three passes for 80 yards including a 42 yard Cutler bomb for a touchdown.
Jeffery is a big target, has excellent hands and is someone who Cutler has spoken very highly of. He is quickly becoming a name that seems to be getting mentioned more and more around the league.
With Earl Bennett still providing something of a security blanket for Cutler, and Hester and Forte being additional receiving options, the Bears have a very potent passing attack. I got to thinking about Johnny Knox today, and found it hard to work out where he would fit in with the current receiving corps. He's definitely be another weapon that would make the Bears offense one of the most improved.
I think there's a lot of reasons for the Bears putting up the type of numbers they did, and the passing game being so good. Obviously Chicago have a new offensive coordinator in Mike Tice, and by all accounts, Cutler has had a much bigger say in terms of game plan than he did under Mike Martz. Couple this with the fact that Cutler looks to be calling audibles a lot more, and you have a more dynamic offense, capable of reacting to opposing defenses, perhaps more than it used to be able to do.
Yes, it's only week one, and maybe we should all hold our horses a little bit, but the fact remains that the Bears passing game looked good out there against the Colts. The true test will come against tougher defenses, but for now, the Bears and its fans have a lot to be excited about.