There were a lot of questions heading into Sunday’s game. No one really knew what to expect from Marc Trestman and his mysterious offense. Questions swirled around the defense and how they would look without former architect Lovie Smith and the man in the middle Brian Urlacher. Those questions were answered on Sunday.
The Bears managed to rally back against the Cincinnati Bengals facing a 21-10 3rd quarter deficit against one of the top defenses in the league. In seasons past, the Bears might have turtled and called it a day. The offense would have gotten very predictable and gone to a lot of deep drops while abandoning the running game. Instead, Marc Trestman’s Bears pulled themselves together on both sides of the ball, settled down and showed some poise. If that is any indication of what is to come in 2013, this Bears team could be special.
On the offensive side of the ball, Jay Cutler didn’t have a totally clean game, throwing the requisite interception, although he claimed it was because he couldn’t follow through and to gash the Bengals on a throw to Martellus Bennett. Cutler showed great pocket presence and moved well in the pocket. He didn’t get rattled and stood tall in the pocket. A lot of the credit for that goes to the offensive line.
Even though it was pointed out that the last time the Bears didn’t give up a sack was last December in the loss to Seattle, it certainly never felt like that. Aside from a few pressures and some nifty scrambles, Cutler got through the game with a relatively clean uniform.
Put yourself in the shoes of Jordan Mills and Kyle Long. On a critical 4th and 1 run late in the game with the Bears trailing, the play called is a Matt Forte sweep to the right side. Their side! Did the rookies crumble under pressure against the decorated Bengals defensive line? Hell no! They keyed the point of attack and Forte swept around right end for the 1st down.
In fact, you want to talk about poise for the rookies, just think about that closing drive. The Bears were committed to running out the clock, but Michael Bush was stopped short of the first down and the Bears were set to punt the ball back to Bengals for a shot to tie or win the game. Jordan Mills was playing until the whistle, finishing his block, but the veteran Rey Maualuga took offense and slammed Mills to the ground, drawing a penalty and giving the Bears the ball to run out the clock. Fade. To. Black.
Even on the defensive side of the ball, they showed great resolve and poise, bouncing back in the second half after giving up scoring drives of 97, 91 and 80 yards to go down 21-10. In the fourth quarter, when it mattered most, the Bears defense gave the Bengals six plays, a pair of three and outs. That’s in stark contrast to the 7 out of 9 third down conversions that they’d allowed leading up to the 4th.
Heck, even throw in Robbie Gould showing great poise, nailing a career long 58-yard field goal as time wound down to end the first half. That field goal made the difference.
Behind it all was another rookie, head coach Marc Trestman. This wasn’t Trestman’s first rodeo, far from it. But it was still his first time in charge of an NFL team. It would have been easy to panic or get an itchy trigger finger. Trestman kept his cool and made the adjustments that needed to be made. Amid the chaos, there was calm.
To emphasize the importance of poise, we dust off a favorite Seinfeld clip:
It’s early, so let’s not get out over our skis. It could end up that the Bengals aren’t all that good and we’ve all been blinded by the glare of the Hard Knocks TV cameras. It’s possible that the Bears could lose it next week to the Vikings and go back to square one. What I liked was that there was a calm in the storm. If this week was any indication, this Bears team could be poised for a special season in 2013.
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