Bears Preseason Football – Nothing to get excited about or too overly upset with, no matter what the circumstances may reveal.
You can associate and separate this team by The Good (Defense, Special Teams), The Bad (Coaching, Missed Tackles) and The Ugly (Offensive Line, QB Controversy, Red Zone Offense).
Game 2 @ Seattle Notes, Grades, Recap: Defense – As a whole the unit looked more “alive” and got to the ball with more urgency. Their pursuit in forcing turnovers was clearly apparent, as the defense’s aggressiveness resulted in one touchdown, three interceptions, three sacks, and a forced fumble. Kevin Payne, who filled in for Brandon McGowan (ankle), left the game with a minor back injury after knocking the ball, along with the helmet of Julius Jones on a vicious hit. Payne, an instinctive ballhawking defensive back who can hit with the best of ’em, is my choice to be the starter next to Mike Brown at SS – now, if only he can stay healthy (missed 12 games due to hand injury as rookie last season). DT Israel Idonije showed why he can be a consistent force, as he displayed constant pressure (sack) and versatility (pass deflection), thus giving the team an important glimpse of his productivity. Israel has now positioned himself as the frontrunner to start next to Tommie Harris Week 1. He has both the size and strength to stop the run and rush the QB, he reminds of a bigger version of Trevor Pryce on the inside. Charles Tillman (INT) /Nate Vasher (PD, key red zone coverage) were both brilliant, and they may be the best CB duo in the NFL. Combine that with the improved play of Corey Graham (TD off INT), I like the team’s chances defending the other team’s best receivers. Graham has a good balance of size and speed, and blends it in with physical coverage like Tillman. Grade on Defense: B
Special Teams – Darrell McClover (punt block for safety) is all over the field, he will make up for the loss of former special teams ace Brendon Ayanbajdeo. I believe he will be a terror and force to be reckoned with rumbling down the field on ST’s. Earl Bennett raised eyebrows by taking a punt the distance, pedaling his way to pay dirt 75 yards in what was an impressive return. Robbie Gould missed a potential game-winning 47-yard FG at the end of regulation, a kick which was setup by a Mark Bradley punt block. A cause for concern – not really. The Windy City Flyer had one kickoff return of 33 yards. Brad Maynard was at his best, his excellent self like usual, pinning two punts inside the 20. Grade on ST: A- (Gould’s miss).
Offense – The OL was beaten plenty of times and looked unprepared against a fierce Seattle pass rush. The blitz proved to be too fast for the line to keep up with. Rex Grossman was thrown around like a rag doll at times and the pass protection was a mere image of last year’s debacle. The run blocking was no different, as Matt Forte (who by the way looks incredibly fluid, shifty) accumulated just 17 yards on 7 carries – that’s a dismal 2.4 yards per attempt. Forte has something too him, something different than most rookie RB’s, everything about him is fundamentally sound and he’s in great shape and is a true competitor out on the gridiron, an absolute threat with the rock in his hands. To eloborate, the more he plays and more the rave reviews he recieves- I don’t understand what his means – but is he being compared to Benson or is he really a solid back in the form of a Thomas Jones, albeit much bigger, faster, and stronger. Is everyone overhyping him? Or is the OL just going to cancel his skills/talent out? How good is he? He’s tough in between the tackles but does he have the extra gear, that extra step to get beyond the next level? How many runs of 20+ yards will we see in ’08? Over/Under is 7… I’ll take the under- definitely.
For sure, Forte can play, but again – will the OL allow him to reach his maximum ability this season? The WR’s looked less than stellar, just OK. Brandon Lloyd made some nifty grabs, Earl Bennett dropped a few more catchable passes, and Marty Booker finally got on the board with a reception. Hester caught 2 for 22 yards. Our best WR so far – by far, Rashied Davis missed the game (wife having a baby). Desmond Clark left the game with a right knee sprain. The injury suffered is said not to be serious by Coach Smith. I imagine if he misses any time – Mr. Forte will be upset (are only legit blocking TE for the time being). Kellen Davis was the MVP on offense, as he collected 3 passes, including a highlight reel one-handed haul in the end zone on 4th & 7 in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 26. Davis piled up 55 yards and I really expect him to develop into a major weapon in the red zone because of his size (6-foot 7) and pure athleticism, which may be enough to get him some valuable playing time.
As far for the QB play, no one really set themselves apart (let’s include Caleb Hanie) from the other. Orton distinguished himself because he was the only signal caller not to throw a pick, but his success was helped out by Brandon Lloyd. You cannot measure up the limited success he had with Rex’s play because of the different defenses they faced. Nonetheless, I believe Hanie is the darkhorse to get some time this season and he led the team to a game-tying TD late in the 4th. Grossman was subpar/mediocre, but he did stand in strong and took the hits. I say that it was impressive that he was not forced to leave the game due to all the pressure he dealt with from the Seahawks front seven (astounding). From mental and confidence standpoint, Rex did alright. But it’s the same old story with Rex/Kyle. I still want Grossman in as the starter because he brings more to the table, though the argument can be made for Orton because he’s had less opportunities and he throws less picks. With that being said, you don’t have to go out on limb to say that the Bears have THE WORST Offense in the National Football League. Grade on Offense: F.
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