I know it’s cliche to say but… It’s only the preseason.
As I watched and re-watched the Bears game against the NCAA Division I (or BCS) Oakland Raiders, my coaching eyes were looking for rhythm and my fan eyes were looking for points and big plays.
I saw both. I saw the offense moving the chains, extending drives and scoring touchdowns, and I saw the defense swarming to the ball, creating pressure and getting turnovers.
I loved to see 3rd down conversions (3/6 by the 1st team offense in the 1st half) and I loved watching the offense eating up big chunks of yards per play and putting up points. The 1st team offense looked smooth and comfortable. More importantly; they looked like a real NFL offense. That is something not seen in Chicago in a long time. The defense played like the Chicago Bears defense plays; get after the QB, create pressure and take the ball away from the other team.
I didn’t love all of the dropped passes.
Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett are going to be fine; they’ve been in the league for a few years and know what they are doing. I chalk up the stone hands as having a bad day; it happens to the best of us. Fendi Onobun intrigues and scares me. By all accounts Onobun has been a solid player in practice and the coaching staff seems to be enamored with his up-side, which is very high; the question becomes: how long do you keep working with a player with a huge up-side that is not producing right now?
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy answer.
On one hand, the coaches and players see what a player like Onobun is capable of doing during practice and are more than willing to keep working with him to try to pull the player from the abyss known as “potential” to the land of promise known as “production”. This effort can only go on for so long before it is time to move on. Kellen Davis was an freakish athletic specimen but never matched his production with his potential, and now, is no longer with the team.
If there is a silver lining to all of the dropped and incomplete passes (and there is), it’s that Jay Cutler is making better decisions. Cutler either threw to an open receiver or threw the ball away. That is an exciting prospect.
The Bears did what all good teams try to do in the preseason: learn and get better (and stay healthy; I’m looking at you Rex Ryan and the JETS).
They are not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination but they got better and that is what the preseason is about.