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Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down: Preseason Week 1, Broncos Edition

Aug 09, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive back Major Wright (21) intercepts a pass from Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (not pictured) in the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 09, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive back Major Wright (21) intercepts a pass from Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (not pictured) in the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

As I feel like we've mentioned over and over and over again, this is only preseason, so some of what lower-string players do is colored by the fact they're playing other backups, but that being said, we finally have some legit game film to compare with.

  • Right away let's get into the offensive line. As a run-blocking unit... They were getting completely destroyed a majority of the night, not many running lanes available for Michael Bush, Kahlil Bell, or Armando Allen. In pass protection, they were largely more serviceable. There was one sack out of the three in the first half that I would attribute to the offensive line. One was on a Jason Campbell scramble and the other was a borderline coverage sack - Robert Ayers beat J'Marcus Webb, but McCown had the ball for four full seconds before he was taken down. The third is squarely on Chris Spencer, as he did everything but escort the defensive tackle to McCown. Of course, after that, the second half was a free-for-all.
  • Webb actually didn't look completely incompetent this game. He had his customary false start, yes. That aside, I did like some of what I saw in his pass protection, and I do think the offensive adjustments are going to help Webb's game. But what I didn't like about Webb was that he seemed tentative and afraid to make and maintain contact with the defensive end. He's definitely not using much technique, something you'd think would have at least begun developing already - just seems content to try to get in the way. Most of the other linemen were done by the half, but Webb took snaps deep into the fourth quarter. He was replaced by James Brown, and the line promptly gave up another pair of sacks on Matt Blanchard.
  • I thought Shea McClellin had an outstanding rookie debut. He provided exactly what he was drafted for - rotational explosiveness, pressure on the quarterback, and outstanding closing speed. He was easily swallowed up on the run plays, but that's why at this point he's a rotational pass rusher. Hopefully he'll develop that strength to maintain his position in the run game. When I look at McClellin, I don't see the linebacker that so many seem to, though. I see a speed rusher who has his eyes on the quarterback.
  • So where the flip did all the run-stuffing go? The Broncos were running at will with Lance Ball.
  • Corey Wootton wasn't bad at all either - he had a couple nice pass-rush penetrations where he displayed a beautiful swim and rip to get inside the engaged tackle and push through.
  • That being said, the defensive line and pass rush are still going to be major question marks until we get to the regular season. One sequence in the first quarter, there may as well have not been a defensive line out there at all. And on another sequence, it was third and 17. Peyton Manning delivered a perfect 19-yard strike. The problem? He had a perfect pocket. And I mean "perfect" - you could have drawn a perfect semi-circle in there and not have touched a Bear.
  • Let's touch on the play-calling. I understand why Mike Tice wanted to keep the playcalls vanilla, so the team doesn't tip off everything they have in the arsenal. But I have a hard time believing any pass was called for longer than five yards. Jason Campbell had three completions on one set of "first-and-ten", took no penalties, and the Bears still had to punt. How many times does that happen?
  • Speaking of Campbell, he seemed too happy to hit his checkdowns without the play really doing much to develop.
  • The replacement refs were... um, not as good as regular refs, but they at least were semi-passable. (Defensive pass interference on Isaiah Frey - called #15?) That being said... Can we get some replacement announcers? I know I've voiced my displeasure at listening to Sam Rosen before, but jeez, this game, he was unbearable.
  • Speaking of unbearable, am I the only one who thought Dom DiCicco had a horrible game?
  • As a proud Chicago Bears fan, let me put my twenty-six years of fandom to use, and all that that time has taught me about quarterback play, to express the following expert opinion on quarterback play, as having witnessed so many quarterbacks pass through the Chicago Bears roster and being familiar with what constitutes such play, I certainly feel qualified to say the following: Caleb Hanie is a bad quarterback.
  • Dane Sanzenbacher made a really nice catch on a slant route, which got me to wondering - as expressed above, Hanie's not the most accurate nor the best quarterback we've ever seen - and Sanz did have a reputation for having good hands coming out of Ohio State. Don't believe me? So a quick thought as the game score was going away... Did Hanie and McCown make Sanzenbacher look worse than he actually is?
  • Alshon Jeffery continued a strong camp with a pretty good game. I'd like to see what happens as the playbook opens up.
  • Not sure that anything really happened to radically alter the defensive-back landscape of the team. Isaiah Frey made a nice play or two, but given the mountain he has to climb to get playing time, not sure it made much of a dent.
  • Major Wright actually looked moderately okay for a bit, picking up a tipped interception. Then he got hurt.
  • Okay, impressions on Peyton Manning's "return" - He's still Peyton Manning, but just not as sharp. I'm not sure if two years ago he throws that ball behind the tight end so that it deflects and pops into Wright's hands.
  • Matt Blanchard looks like a perfect practice squad candidate. A flash or two that there might be something there, a whole lot that says he's not quite ready yet. So what's that say his snaps were the most productive of the night?
  • I liked Nate Collins and Geno Hayes.
  • Hey, UDFA Jordan Miller made an appearance in the backfield!
  • Chris Summers had a real nice leaping grab, shielding a defender.
  • It probably should be noted this game was played without Jay Cutler for his six snaps or so, Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers. Some of the backups, particularly at linebacker, really struggled - Pat Trahan didn't have a good game, Dom DiCicco I mentioned, Campbell and McCown didn't really show a lot except willingness to scramble.
  • Above all, it's only preseason, there's plenty to work on.

What stood out to you?