Bears Vs. Panthers: Which Offensive Players Helped Themselves Most?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears may have lost a preseason game, but how did the individual young players look? First, we're looking at the offensive players from Friday's game.

I didn't get a chance to watch last night's preseason action live, which marks probably the first time in four years I've had to miss live Bears action. Sucks, I know, you feel bad for me.

But, what that means is that since you didn't get a normal Notes piece for this game (and since I have the benefit of a tool never before available to me for some reason, DVR), I thought we'd dive a little deeper and highlight (and low-light!) some of the other players on each side of the ball as well. So, offensive Notes, then some player notes, and we'll look at the defense later tonight.

  • On the Cutler interception targeting Alshon Jeffery - Just a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver. Jeffery cut his slant route short, Jay Cutler assumed he was going to continue to wall off the defensive back, and things were bad from there. Protection isn't bad, but Greg Hardy gets around the left tackle Eben Britton and might be able to throw a hit on Cutler if Cutler doesn't get rid of it.
  • Three series for the first-string offense might be a little more than normal, but still, good to see the offense getting additional game reps.
  • Devin Hester returned the second kickoff of the game 23 yards. To the 14. If you're getting a ball nine yards deep in the end zone, and it's not a field goal attempt? Just take it.
  • They came right back to Jeffery on the second pass of the game. Note, expect them to like slants.
  • Lots of three-wide early, and good awareness by Cutler out of the shotgun (!) to roll left looking downfield, and then throw it away. Early usage of Eric Weems out of the slot, with Brandon Marshall out.
  • Joe Anderson can run that slant pattern too.
  • The sack: The announcers called out J'Marcus Webb for getting beat on this sack, and he totally did, but Britton didn't exactly lock his guy down either. James Brown got beat at right guard, Britton and Steve Maneri got beat on the left, and Webb was mauled on the right - Cutler has to step up and of course that'll be stepping up into a sack. This just in, Carolina's defensive line, pretty good.
  • The first sack on Josh McCown wasn't really one you could pin on a lineman - the line opened up trying to sell quick-play-action left and Chase Blackburn just found the open lane and bull-rushed in. Not much you can really do there.
  • Speaking off, that line in the second quarter featured only two guys that were on the squad last year (Brown and Edwin Williams).
  • The first sack on Blanchard - Britton (who's still in the game in the 3rd quarter, by the way) gets beat solidly, but Brown's a step or two away from getting blocked into Blanchard anyway. Heady play by Jordan Mills to pounce on the ball, even though it creates 3rd and 28.
  • Terrence Toliver found a way to get in on the slant party. These bottom of the roster receivers are going to be a good problem to have, aren't they.
  • Every year Harvey Unga keeps making me ask how he keeps getting preseason invites for the Bears. Then after getting tracked along the line for hardly any gain, he whips out a nasty hesitation step and snags a first down on a reception. I think I saw time dilation.
  • Delay of Game at 2:26 in the 3rd. I thought we were past this? Well, at least it's not a confusion timeout - wait, Blanchard had one of those too...
  • Not sure this Bears' line has seen a blitz before. Matt Blanchard sure got up close and personal with 'em.
  • Cory Brandon's probably not going to make the roster; I wouldn't be too upset over the sack he allowed. He makes Ford look tiny, though.
  • Small thing in preseason, but why a two-yard out with less than a minute and one timeout down by a touchdown? Aside from the "working on things" thing.

On the whole, the first-team offense looked about how you'd expect - a team missing its top wide receiver and top free-agent acquisition left tackle didn't look so great. Brandon Marshall missed because the team's being cautious with his hip. I feel pretty confident the offense will look a little better on Thursday - it can't look much worse than the first pass attempt.

Onto the player highlights:

Kyle Long: Long played on the second unit, and while he didn't set the world on fire, he wasn't horrible either. He still is what he is - raw, talented, with a lot of work to do. I like his power and athleticism, and plenty of both was on display on Friday.

Jordan Mills: Rough debut, but you can see why he was drafted. He's a developmental guy and can still make the roster.

Fendi Onobun: I'm making the McKayla Maroney "Not Impressed" face. I mean, I see why people are interested in him - he's big, he can run a bit - but there are reasons he hasn't stuck to a roster as Antonio Gates-lite. Yes, he had to stretch for the touchdown ball he dropped, but getting both hands on it, that shouldn't have been a drop. On Blanchard's interception later in the game, Onobun thought it was Aromashodu's ball - it may well have been, but not making the effort at all isn't good. You have to make the play on that ball in your vicinity instead of letting it go into the great unknown.

Marquess Wilson: The recipient of the pass on 3rd and 28. Made a couple good tough catches and displayed some nice burst when able to. The talent is definitely there, and well worth the flier pick, maybe even more. Wilson's going to play his way onto the roster if he keeps up all his work from the offseason. He got open down the middle on a deep in, but Blanchard made the throw with lots of great protection; the speed afterward was all Wilson. Needs to not step out of bounds next time.

Armando Allen: Eh... He's got some nice acceleration and hits the hole, plus plays special teams, but ball security isn't a thing and once he's hit, he's going down. Fumbles were a problem through camp, and they were still a problem Friday night.

Michael Ford: To me, this might be the number 3 back. Runs a little tougher than Allen with a little more ball security. Plus, I can't say I don't like the look of him as a returner. Knows where the first-down marker and goal line is and will get after it. He got juked badly on a linebacker blitz for a sack, so that hurts him pretty badly - but he's probably the third best pure rusher on the team with a little receiving ability. I know Ford was matched up against 3s and 4s, as opposed to Allen's 2s, but Ford was running pretty well, maybe he's earned some snaps against the 2s.

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