Preseason games may not tell a lot about a team. This one, a 33-28 Bears win, said a few things about the 2013 Bears at this point of the calendar, however:
The Bears’ starters put up 14 points in their first quarter of 15 total plays. But perhaps the more impressive piece was their picking themselves up after abysmal possessions and scoring touchdowns on the next times they touched the football.
The first possession consisted of two sacks in the first three plays. Martellus Bennett was completely handled by rush linebacker Jarrett Johnson for one sack and Jay Cutler held the ball long enough for the Chargers to loop around and come down from Milwaukee. That first possession consisted of plays netting minus-2, minus-2 and minus-5 yards.
[WATCH: How valuable is Jay Cutler?]
After the defense forced a punt, Cutler gave the ball to Matt Forte four times for 65 rushing yards and threw it to Brandon Marshall three times, the last for a five-yard TD.
Cutler, who threw all five of his passes to Marshall, threw an ill-advised one into double-coverage that was intercepted. After the defense got the ball back on a sack/forced fumble by Shea McClellin, Cutler threw once more to Marshall, then gave it to Forte the next three times from the San Diego 11 and Forte punched in for another “comeback” touchdown.
Stumbling and falling is not a character flaw. Getting up and doing something about it is the real point. The offense did not do that in Carolina; this was an upgrade. A big upgrade.
“We were three-and-out to start the game,” coach Marc Trestman said at halftime. “We didn’t look good. We got our composure; we came back and we got things in order.”
Feeling a rush
The No. 1 defensive line collected three sacks – one each by Nate Collins, Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton. After just one sack and one QB hit (both by Collins) at Carolina, the level of playmaking was part of why Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had a night of 5-for-9 passing and a 31.9 rating.
And this was with Julius Peppers held out again to give his suspect hamstring another week of no game action.
“We can come out here and get pressure and sacks,” Wootton said. “It is going to translate in the season. We did a great job so far getting to the quarterback and getting some turnovers.”
Wootton’s sack was an inside move against former Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker, the No. 12 pick of the 2013 draft. Fluker had his moments. Just not against Wootton.
The 2012 offense ran through Brandon Marshall but it didn’t run very far. Cutler throwing only to Marshall and forcing one ball into coverage for an interception is not a winning formula. If Marshall was the only one open or out on a pattern, OK. But...
Cutler’s exclusive targeting of Marshall can be overlooked as perhaps Cutler wanting to get his guy back in rhythm after missing so much time with his offseason hip procedure and rest.
But Marshall was targeted on 190 of Cutler’s 434 attempts last season (43.8 percent) and the offense was the worse for it. The organization gave Cutler weapons like Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery and an offensive line to give him time to find them. The expectation is that he use them.
Kyle Long had one of the most physically dominating first quarters of any rookie I have ever seen in 20 years of covering the Bears. Long was quick off the ball, decisive, got to the second level for blocks and was physical. His block was key in Matt Forte’s first-quarter TD run and he will be the Bears’ starting right guard Opening Day.
He may not be the only rookie lineman. Jordan Mills was solid at right tackle, made no egregious plays and stood up well to a 3-4 scheme that included Dwight Freeney coming at him in some alignments.
Jon Bostic may draw a fine for leading with his helmet but his closing speed from middle linebacker for a hit that separated receiver Mike Willie from the ball was astonishing. He was bulldozed by D.J. Fluker on the second-quarter San Diego touchdown run and failed on a coverage read that led to a TD pass but his overall was what his coaches want: play fast and we’ll fix the mistakes in the film room.