Deep. Breath. In. Out. This is not the time to panic. Yes, the Bears lost in convincing if not embarrassing fashion on Thursday night in their exhibition opener to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Yes, the defense was without Brian Urlacher, who couldn’t find his way to Soldier Field on a rain soaked night for more “personal reasons.” Yes, newest “Papa Bear” Jay Cutler was trying to get tips for how to avoid changing diapers on the sidelines rather than risking a misstep on the swamp known as the Soldier Field turf. All of these are true, including the standard “we don’t scheme or game plan at this stage excuse. That’s all good and fine. But there are reasons for concern. Hit the jump to see a few of mine.
The Offensive Line
J’Webb Nation was working overtime on Thursday night. Like way overtime. While just about all the starters were onto their second bag of sunflower seeds, J’Webb was still in the the game struggling to block Broncos 2nd and 3rd teamers. He added a false start for good measure. Even guys that we’ve come to view as reliable like Chris Spencer and and Lance Louis had their troubles. This will continue to be an area of concern until it’s proven not to be. I just know I wouldn’t want to be in the film room on Friday with the offensive line.
Yeah, About that New Offense
When your biggest stars, namely Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, are sitting out, expectations are immediately lessened. But the offense looked really disjointed and out of sync. I don’t know if it’s because Mike Tice was calling his first game as OC or if they were just going pure vanilla, but whatever they were doing, it wasn’t working. Jason Cambell and Michael Bush looked like Caleb Hanie and Marion Barber 2.0 on their blown pitch that led to an early Broncos score.
3rd down Defense
I know that in preseason, there is no game plan and everything is pretty plain. But the Broncos ended the night converting 50% of their 3rd downs. It felt worse when watching the first half with more of the top flight guys in the game. Peyton Manning didn’t show too much rust as he marched the Broncos down the field in his first and only drive, only to have it stall on a Major Wright interception. That was classic Lovie Smith defense; give up a ton of yards to get bailed out by a takeaway. I know it’s early, but keep an eye on the third down D.
Where are the Tight Ends?
It seems like just yesterday I was reading how Mike Tice, as a former tight end, was going to get the Bears tight ends more involved in the offense. Oh yeah, that’s because it was just yesterday. But where were the TE’s on Thursday night? They caught 2 of the 16 pass completions on the night. When struggling against a Broncos rush, the TE’s would have served as a valuable aspect to the offense. It never materialized. Let’s not go all “Mike Martz” with this offense.
From all I could dig up as of this writing, the Bears only had Major Wright come up lame with a hamstring. Let’s hope it’s not too serious and he’s back on the field sooner rather than later.
The Damned Turf
Just a week ago, everyone was heaping praise on the Soldier Field turf at Family Night. I’m not so sure how long ’til they need to re-sod after Thursday night. Even with the rain, the turf was coming up in chunks. There were more than a handful of slips that were just maddening. If they can’t figure out how to grow good turf, it’s time to get a decent playing surface.