Chicago Bears Week 1: Takeaways

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

I’m still disgusted by the Bears opening week 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills. Not only was it a home game, but the Bears were favored by 7.5 and on paper this was the easiest game on a pretty challenging schedule. I was too despondent to write about it yesterday and I’m still not sure if I can do it objectively without any f-bombs, overly harsh criticism, or throwing up a little. I’ll do my best.

It’s hard to find any positives in a loss like that, but there were some things to be optimistic about and at the end of the day, it’s only one game. Things change fast in the NFL; Every year good teams from the year before regress and a couple of bad teams from last year make the playoffs. Maybe the Bills are one of those bad teams, or maybe the Bears are going to regress. After one game it’s too early to tell, let’s just hope the Bears fix their issues before Sunday night’s matchup against the Niners. Here are my takeaways from Sunday’s game:

1.) The Bears still suck against the run – The Bills have a solid offensive line and were 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards last season, but giving up 193 yards and 5.8 yards per carry is unacceptable. Especially to a team with an untested 2nd-year QB who has only completed a few passes during the preseason. If the Bears defense can’t stop the run against a team that can’t do anything else, how are they going to fare against balanced offenses that can do both? It could get ugly.

2.) DT Stephen Paea may be a bust – The former 2nd round pick in 2011 has struggled to stay healthy, so he’s been a bit of an unknown. Paea has shown flashes of being a run-stuffer the few times he’s actually played and like most fans I thought he could make an impact if healthy. Well he was healthy on Sunday, and he stunk. Paea got pushed around and consistently fell for misdirection and counter plays. Maybe it’s rust from not being on the field much the last two seasons or maybe he’s just not that good and a bust. The other starting DT, Jeremiah Ratliff, played well but Paea, the Bears NT, is supposed to be the run-stopping DT and he failed on Sunday. Rookie NT Ego Ferguson got 12 snaps and didn’t embarrass himself, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets twice as many snaps in week 2.

3.) Same ole Jay Cutler – There was a lot of talk about the more mature Jay Cutler, but Sunday was a typical Cutler performance. A couple amazing throws, like his bomb to Jeffery on the first drive, and a couple of terrible decisions like his 2nd interception (by a DT!). His first one looked like it may have been a mistake by one of the receivers in the area, but the second one with around 8 minutes to go in a close game was unacceptable. If Cutler doesn’t throw a pick there, the Bears probably win that game. Frustrating.

4.) Despite injuries, the Bears O-line played very well – The Bears lost both C Roberto Garza and LG Matt Slausen in the 1st half to high ankle sprains. They may be out for a couple of weeks, but their replacements C Brian de la Puente and rookie G Michael Ola stepped in and played very well. De la Puente led the Bears offense with a 3.2 grade from Pro Football Focus and Michael Ola was second at 2.8. The Bills have one of the better D-lines in football, so they fact that not just the replacements but the O-line as a whole played very well, is encouraging. They won’t get a break next week in San Fran so hopefully they can keep up their strong play.

5.) The play calling was obnoxious – The Bears ran the ball 18 times and threw 49 passes. I am fine with throwing the ball more than running it, this is a passing league now and the Bears have a lot of weapons. They had the 2nd best scoring offense in the league last year throwing it more than running, but had a 1.4-1 pass/run ratio which is nowhere near the 2.7-1 ratio they had on Sunday. The Bears averaged almost 5 yards per carry (4.8) and it was a close game throughout, they should have handed the ball Matt Forte more often. He’s arguably the Bears best player and deserves more than 17 carries.