Chicago Bears Week 1: Takeaways
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
4.) Alan Ball was bad, but not terrible – I know he gave up two touchdowns and four catches for 51 yards, but for the most part his coverage was pretty solid. Ball was beat badly on the second TD he gave up, but on the first one he couldn’t have covered James Jones any better and he was also victimized by two great passes by Aaron Rodgers on the other two catches he gave up. He was solid against the run with three tackles and two stops near the line of scrimmage. Those fans clamoring for Tim Jennings need to be patient and give Ball a few games to prove himself. He was inches away from making two or three big plays, let’s see how he does against a QB that isn’t the best in the game.
5.) Kyle Long struggled in his first game at right tackle, but didn’t have much help – It’s understandable that Long would struggle after just being moved to a new position a few days before the game, plus he was tasked with blocking a rotating cast of Packers including elite pass rushers like Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews. For the most part Long held his own, but he was beaten badly on a sack by Peppers that almost resulted in a lost fumble. Long had little help around him as his replacement at RG, Vladimir Ducasse, was called for two penalties and had the worst overall grade from Pro Football Focus (-5.7) and center Will Montgomery had a negative grade (-2.4) as well. All three players gave up three QB hurries each and were often ineffective picking up the Packers blitz schemes.
6.) The left side of the O-line played much better – Jermon Bushrod was a disaster in limited snaps this preseason, but actually played really well on Sunday. He had the best PFF grade on the offense (2.3) and did a great job opening up holes for Matt Forte. At LG Matt Slauson was decent as well not giving up any QB hurries, hits, or sacks.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
7.) The Bears ILBs looked solid – Inside linebacker was a huge question mark coming into the season with annual failure Shea McClellin and undrafted 2nd-year player Christian Jones starting inside despite neither having any experience at the position. I feel a lot better about the Bears ILB situation after both players had good games on Sunday. Jones led the team in tackles with nine and was a consistent force against the run while McClellin was second with eight tackles and had the best overall defensive grade from PFF (2.5). Both players were dragged for a few yards at times by Eddie Lacy and neither guy had any tackles for loss, so there is still plenty of room for improvement.
8.) Rookie safety Adrian Amos played pretty well – The Bears have been throwing rookie safeties out there pretty much every season and they have all failed miserably, but Amos had a solid debut with five tackles, a tackle for loss on Eddie Lacy, no glaring mistakes in coverage, two other solid run stops near the line of scrimmage, and an overall positive grade from PFF (+.3). It was a promising start in a very tough matchup, but the Bears need someone in the secondary to step up and become an impact player. I think Amos has the potential to get there.
9.) Eddie Goldman and Will Sutton flashed – They weren’t consistent and didn’t make any huge plays, but both Goldman and Sutton had their moments. Goldman had a big stop on Lacy behind the line of scrimmage, had two QB hurries, and did a decent job of holding his ground on running plays, while Sutton was one of the only other players to get any pressure on Rodgers and changed a couple running plays with pressure in the backfield. They will both need to get better if the Bears D is going to be decent, but they showed the potential to be impact players on Sundays.
10.) Please no more Sherrick McManis covering Randall Cobb – That’s just not fair.
11.) The new coaching staff has already made an impact – The Packers had 10 penalties and the Bears had 6. That alone is a huge improvement over the last few seasons. Not only that, but the Bears looked like an actual professional team for the first time in years. There were no botched clock management, no too many players on the field penalties, competent play-calling, actual halftime adjustments were made, and the Bears didn’t fall apart after mistakes. I had less things to complain about than most Bear games I can remember. I’m glad to have coach Fox at the helm.
Next: Bears vs. Packers: What Was the Turning Point?