Well, it was like watching a different team this Saturday against Washington, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The scoreline made it seem a closer game than it really was, but I think Chicago was the better team, and thanks to a huge field goal from Robbie 'good as' Gould, the Bears got the victory they deserved. But let's take a closer look at the game, and discuss five things we learned from the Bears' second preseason game.
1. Forget everything negative I said about Jay Cutler. Well, nearly everything. You must understand I can't go full circle in case anything bad happens. But he looked great out there. He played 24 snaps and finished the game 7 out of 13 for 122 yards. It was great to see that first play going from Cutler to Brandon Marshall, as if to say 'this is a sign of things to come'.
He showed what I have always said about him. Given the right protection and time in the pocket, he can tear apart any NFL secondary. He looked calm and composed and in control of the offense, and at times reminded us what a mobile quarterback he is, on top of his great arm strength.
So, am I back on the Cutler bandwagon? Come on; I'd never really fallen off. Shame we didn't see Grossman, though.
2. Alshon Jeffery continues impress. The rookie wide receiver continues to demonstrate why the Bears used a second round pick on him in this year's draft. Like Marshall, he is a big target who showed good hands in Saturday's victory.
He co-lead the team with three receptions for 62 yards, averaging 20.7 yards per catch. Pretty good going, if you ask me. Jeffery said:
"Whatever the situation is, I just try to go out and play my game. Whatever it takes to do that, it doesn't matter. I would say practice is really tough. So in a game it comes easier.
Coach Tice always talks about being explosive, so we try to make explosive plays; try to be one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history."
I like that kind of positivity from the big man. Let's hope he's right, and let's hope he carries on his good preseason play into the regular season. Marshall and Jeffery could turn into a nice looking tandem.
3. Michael Bush looks to be a goal line TD vulture. Not that I'm complaining. Bush averaged 4.2 yards a carry, and scored 2 touchdowns from short yardage. I think the main thing to take from this is the impact it has on Forte's fantasy value. It's one of the reasons people might be reluctant to draft him as high as he possibly deserves to go. But heck, this is 'real' football we are talking about here. And I don't care if they let Melton smash it in from the 1 yard line, as long as it's six points on the board.
All joking aside, Bush looked good and showed that he has good feet and athletic ability and is more than the battering ram that some seem to think he is.
4. Israel Idonijie is the real deal. Often overlooked by those outside of the Bears radar. But we all know how good a football player Izzy is. Capable of playing anywhere on the line, he looked impressive against Washington, racking up 2.5 sacks, 5 tackles and causing Griffin to fumble the ball.
Idonije can bring a veteran leadership to the team, along with players such as Julius Peppers, and this will no doubt aid in the development of rookie defensive end Shea McLellin, who showed some positive sparks again this week.
Rest assured, when Idonije is on the field, he gives 100 per cent on every play. A hard working defensive lineman who remains underrated in the NFL.
5. Apparently it's only Jay Cutler that the offensive line wants to protect. I realize that there was a lot of rotation on the line as the game went on, but Cutler came out of it unscathed. He was offered more than adequate pass protection by an offensive line that is under constant scrutiny.
Then it seemed like they went to sleep for a bit. Josh McCown was sacked once and Jason Campbell was taken down three times as the line began to show cracks again.
It remains worrying that the Bears have yet to really settle on a solid combination up front. They seems to be testing people out at nearly every position on the offensive line, and it's something that needs clarity; and quickly. Like I said, Cutler showed what type of QB he is when he has the time to set his feet in the pocket, without fear of it collapsing all around him.
If you asked most fans and pundits what scared you the most about the Bears this year, the answer would still be the offensive line. Everything else is falling into place and it's time for the o-line to follow suit.
Other things that spiked my interest. Anyone else see that Washington fan clapping all alone amongst many Bears supporters after the punt return? It still baffles me that fans of opposite teams just sit with each other and there appears to be no animosity. It's pleasantly surprising in one way, but baffling in another.
Hester showed good hands and route running. Perhaps this is the year he convinces everyone that he can be a legitimate NFL wide receiver.
Defensive tackle Brian Price looked huge! Much larger than the 303 lbs I have seen him listed at. Could be a decent little pick up, though.
Evan Rodriguez had a couple of nice plays. Led the team (along with Jeffery) with three receptions, averaging 16.3 yards a catch. He looked pretty good out there.
Is Kirk Cousins better than RG3? Slightly rhetorical question, with most people screaming 'heck, no', but Washington's 'other' rookie quarterback looked good against Chicago. He finished the game 18 out of 23 for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Showed some nice poise and a good arm. Obviously Griffin will get the starts, but Cousins showed he's no joke.
So, overall a much better offensive performance from the Bears. Shame the defense allowed so many points, but let's just put it down to preseason, shall we? The Giants are up next and should prove a stiff opponent, and the Bears edge ever closer to the regular season opener against Indianapolis.
Did I mention it was a shame we didn't see Rex Grossman?