Don’t panic Bears fans. So the debut of the Jay Cutler Show wasn’t great. It’s OK. Did you ever see the first episode of Seinfeld? Not so good either, but that show turned into one of the most successful and beloved of all time.
The Bears lost their 2009 preseason opener to the Buffalo Bills 27-20. Jay Cutler’s debut was probably not what anyone outside of Denver had been hoping for. It’s not nearly as bad as the 3 INT night that Kyle Orton threw in his Broncos debut, but it leaves plenty of room for improvement. Cutler went 5/10 for 64 yards and an ill-advised, off-the-back-foot Grossman-esque INT on an attempt to Devin Hester. There’s some debate about how that play ended up, according to ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson but I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience for a QB anxious to make a big play.
Lovie Smith must have spent a high pick on Matt Forte in his fantasy league, because he didn’t want to risk injury to the second year running back. Meanwhile, Greg Olsen’s been nursing a sore hip, so he say out too. Without two of his key weapons, Jay Cutler struggled a bit. Even though he targeted Devin Hester a few times in his ten attempts, the only big play came when Cutler hooked up with tight end Desmond Clark for a nice play down the seam for a 20+ yard gain. The wide receivers were otherwise invisible. So much for Brandon Rideau and Devin Aromashodu making their cases for a coveted roster spot.
The Bears first team defense looked decent in their play into the 2nd quarter, letting up only a field goal before most of the regulars took to the bench. A major concern has to be the Bears secondary. The banged up unit, playing without starters Peanut Tillman and Danieal Manning and emerging cornerback Zack Bowman really struggled. Buffalo quarterbacks completed 29-34 passes with a late interception by their third string QB. They seemed to move the ball at will and carved the Bears defense up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Can you imagine if TO had played?
Despite the poor outings by Cutler and the secondary, the Bears were in the game until Brett Basanez entered the game in the fourth quarter. In case you’re wondering, Basanez is French for Grossman. Although his first INT wasn’t really his fault, his turnovers led directly to 14 fourth quarter points by the Bills.
Caleb Hanie looked sharp in his time in the game and picked up right where he left off last preseason. This time, instead of fighting his way onto the roster, Hanie was the backup and rested most of the fourth quarter. His pocket presence and mobility make him a nice backup. Oh wait, he just fumbled. Still, better than Grossman, don’t ya think? Now let’s hope we don’t have to use him.
A few more loose ends:
- Al Afalava made the most of his opportunities. He made some nice plays in run support and seemed to be Johnny-on-the-spot much of the evening. Hope he can do something in coverage because the Bears need some help in that area.
- Dusty Dvoracek – nice energy and motor, but HORRIBLE late hit that costs the Bears 15 yards. Not smart for someone that will be fighting for a roster spot.
- If Henry Melton is returning kicks in the regular season, we’re in trouble.
- Mark Anderson, who is supposedly having a great camp, cannot blow containment on that fourth and one bootleg by Trent Edwards. That’s the time to get your defense off the field and make a big play.
- Nice TD catch by Juaquin Iglesias in the back of the endzone. One of the few bright spots for Bears receivers.
The most important thing that came out of Saturday’s loss: it appears that the Bears made it through relatively injury- free. The next game comes as Cutler and the Bears make their 2009 home debut next Saturday against the Giants.
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