The first thing I noticed was how good Jay Cutler can look when he is not running for his life and actually trusts his offensive line. Yes, Cutler started off slowly going 10/19 for 70 yards and a TD in the 1st half. But he came on in the 2nd half and was 11/14 for 172 yards a TD and an INT. He threw quite a few passes over the middle and attacked that part of the field with confidence like I haven’t seen him do since Greg Olsen was a Bear. His 1 INT was not good at all, but watching the replays; he was being grabbed and pulled backwards as he was throwing. Cutler looks good running around and making plays instead of trying not to get killed by the defense doesn’t he?
Another thing I noticed was the use of Matt Forte. Yes, I saw him drop passes, and yes I saw him get tackled behind the line of scrimmage a couple of times.
His stats were not all that impressive. He had 19 carries for 50 yards rushing and 1 TD. That is only a 2.6 yard per carry average. He also had 4 receptions for 41 yards; good enough for a 10.3 yards per reception average (he was targeted 6 times).
What stood out was where and how he was used. Lovie Smith seemed to think that Forte was not a goal line, between the tackles sort of running back. Forte was often taken out and replaced by guys like Marion Barber and more recently Michael Bush to get the tough yard or two needed for the first down or at the goal line.
Not this game.
New Head Coach Marc Trestman believes that Matt Forte can do it all; including getting those tough yards; both inside and outside the tackles.
Trestman called for Forte to run up the middle twice in a row near the goal line and was rewarded with a touchdown. Later in the 4th quarter, Trestman again called on number 22 on 4th and 1; only this time he had him run to the outside of the tackle box, and once again was rewarded; this time with a first down.
It is important to note that during training camp, there were questions as to whether there were enough balls to go around to all of the play makers Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, and Brandon Marshall; all four had their touches and three of them (Bennett, Marshall and Forte) scored a TD. I would say that is spreading the ball around.
Another thing I noticed was the excessive time out calling in the 1st quarter. That worried me, but just a little bit. I am hoping that is an exception rather than the rule going forward.
I don’t know if you caught it or not, but at the 0:50 mark left before halftime, broadcaster Phil Simms (whom I am not a big fan of) said something prophetic; he said:
The Bears… didn’t waste two time outs. In the 1st half you use em, and in the 2nd half you guard them like gold.
Low and behold, in the 2nd half, and in the 4th quarter no less, the Bengals wasted their final two time outs in three plays because they only had 10 men on the field, then came back with 12 men on the field.
I am a little concerned with the lack of pass rush from the D-Line. Based solely on the eye test; the only linemen who earned their paychecks were Stephen Paea and Shea McClellin but only because he had a sack late in the game at a crucial moment to help stall a drive. I don’t know what the deal was with the rest of the D-Line but something needs to change if the Bears want to continue to be successful going forward.
What do you think Bears fans? What did you see that made you sit up and take notice?