Let me preface my comments on the first half of the Bears preseason opener vs the Denver Broncos that this is a preseason game and there is no reason to panic. A bunch of key starters for the Bears were on the sidelines including Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher. Other key starters took a couple of snaps and grabbed a ballcap. No sense putting your stars at risk on the rain soaked and crappy Soldier Field turf.
With all of that said, one of my biggest fears was realized – the Bears are SOFT up front.
The offensive line was not good to be kind and awful to be more truthful. J’Marcus Webb was in midseason form with a false start early and got blown up by Robert Ayers – while getting help from Kahlil Bell on a chip no less – to give up a sack. If you’re a member of J’Webb Nation, you might want to seek asylum elsewhere.
And it wasn’t just Webb who failed to ease my concerns. Usually reliable guys like Lance Louis and Chris Spencer also had their problems up front. In fact, Chris Spencer had a few moments where he looked like he was on roller skates, getting shoved into the backfield. On the bright side, they have nowhere to go but up.
The defensive line, vanilla as the scheme may be, didn’t look much better early. Yes, Julius Peppers didn’t play and that changes the scheme, but the front four failed to get pressure on Peyton Manning as he directed the Broncos offense down the field on 4 of 7 passing for 44 yards and one costly interception near the goal line that bailed out the Bears’ starting defense. The defensive line also looked sluggish against the run. Clearly, without Peppers and Urlacher, it’s a very different front 7, but there are still concerns.
There were some bright spots for the Bears. Rookie Shea McClellin showed some flashes of why the Bears invested a first round pick with a good motor and picking up his first sack. The race for the last DE spot could be heating up with guys like Cheta Ozugwu and Corey Wooten battling for a spot in the rotation.
Another rookie Alshon Jeffery got his feet wet and was able to show off those great hands in an otherwise flat offensive performance.
More to follow when the game (mercifully) wraps up.