Cutler-to-Marshall looking good; line coming together

Cutler-to-Marshall looking good; line coming together

August 16, 2013, 12:00 am
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The Chicago No. 1 offense scored 14 points in the first quarter of the Bears’ 33-28 win over the San Diego Chargers. The unit was on the field for four possessions, two very bad and two very good, 15 plays that produced 14 points.

And some interesting trend lines:


In two preseason games, seven series and 25 plays, Jay Cutler has completed 10 of 13 preseason passes for 94 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Cutler threw a costly interception after a San Diego turnover, forcing a pass toward Brandon Marshall despite double coverage – exactly the kind of 2012 play Cutler needs to avoid.….  Josh McCown was serviceable as not only Cutler’s relief, but also Matt Blanchard’s after Blanchard suffered a fractured knuckle that will force the Bears to bring in a No. 3 quarterback. McCown completed five of eight passes for 28 yards working with the No. 2 and No. 3 units.

Trending: The diversification of the offense is there in theory; Marshall was not the primary receiver on several of the plays on which Cutler threw to him. Until Cutler shows consistent willingness to look for someone other than Marshall under pressure, however, the offense is still just a modified version of the one that didn’t work all that well in 2012.

Running backs

Matt Forte had the kind of game running backs in Marc Trestman offenses have come to expect. He carried the ball eight times for 74 yards, 58 of those coming on one burst off his left side. Forte used his interference well throughout, cut back behind solid second-level blocking by his offensive line to exploit pursuit…. Michael Bush got in some physical work with 11 carries and 37 yards, one of them on his signatures: a goal-line burst for a touchdown.

[VIEW FROM THE MOON: What the Bears' win over San Diego means]

Michael Ford boosted his stock with strong kickoff returns, three for 163 yards, while Armando Allen was stuck on the bench with a hamstring injury that seriously undercuts his roster chances.

Trending: Marc Trestman said the Bears wanted to get the ball to Matt Forte more often and that was done. The Bears ran the ball by design 34 times vs. 20 pass plays. Balance has worked for the Bears in the past and Trestman is clearly a believer as well…. Ford has all but clinched the No. 3 running back spot.

Wide receivers

Brandon Marshall got in his first preseason game and caught four passes from Jay Cutler, the fifth being an interception of another Marshall “target” …. The offense was so pass-light that zero passes were thrown to Joe Anderson and Devin Aromashodu, two receivers competing for an important roster spot…. Eric Weems caught one of the two passes thrown to him.

Trending: Hard to draw trend lines from a total of 14 pass plays and none to a first-string receiver other than Marshall.

Tight ends

Martellus Bennett was not involved in the offense at Carolina and his early effort vs. San Diego was a disaster, beaten on an outside rush by LB Jarrett Johnson for a sack of Jay Cutler. The Bears lined Bennett and Steve Maneri as double-tights outside Jordan Mills but were beaten on their blocks.

What Bennett or any other tight end might do in this offense will have to wait another week to be revealed. “We had some plays for him early,” Cutler said. “We never got to him. I think we have a good idea of what he can do through practice… . We’re calling plays off of defenses, not for a specific player involved.”

Trending: Jay Cutler had an excellent connection with Greg Olsen (101 catches over two seasons) before Mike Martz effectively sent Olsen to Carolina. The Bears spent a lot of money on Bennett and not one pass has gone his way out of the 25 run by the No. 1 offense. It wasn’t supposed to work that way.

Offensive line

Kyle Long in his first start looked every bit the part of a No. 1 pick, with clear-out blocks, keeping his feet and controlling Chargers at the point of attack. His quickness getting to the second level was excellent and he was aggressive throughout….Jordan Mills was solid in his first start as well, standing up to the likes of ex-Colts sack leader Dwight Freeney. Sacks on two of the first three plays was a second straight inauspicious start but the O-line was not the problem.

[RELATED: Bostic lays out Chargers' wide receiver]

Eben Britton and J’Marcus Webb worked extensively at right and left tackles, respectively, and did not draw attention or flags or sacks, as they did at Carolina…. James Brown was beaten badly by rookie defensive tackle Kwame Geathers for a loss on a Michael Ford run.

Trending: Mills will need a meltdown to lose the starting right-tackle spot. The “loser” on Thursday was Jonathan Scott, who remains sidelined with a knee problem while Britton and Webb push for the swing-tackle job. Scott is expected back next week but his chances may be limited in game three with the starters playing into the third quarter.