Chicago Sun-Times

Random thoughts after preseason opener

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I got home from vacation (it was booked before I was assigned to the Bears) last night just in time to turn on the Chargers game. I've been gone for two weeks, and therefore my observations may not be much more informed than your own.

That said, here is what struck me while watching the Bears fall to the Chargers 25-10 in a preseason opener that revealed little.

The inability to run the ball and rush the passer were two huge weaknesses last season. Based on Saturday night's performance, there's no reason to think they have dramatically improved. Again, preseason games are often a mirage. Don't read to much into a glorified scrimmage. But the offensive line didn't get a push and the defensive line didn't get consistent pressure, even though Philip Rivers throwing quick passes early in the game was one of the reasons for that.

I liked Henry Melton's motor. The second-year defensive tackle impressed me with his will to get to the quarterback. After being sidelined because of an injury as a rookie, Melton seems to be coming on strong. That's a good sign for a defensive line that needs he and Jarron Gilbert to step up and make an impact.

I, like everyone else, liked what I saw from Major Wright. The rookie safety brings a bite to the back end of the Bears' D that is much needed.

Brian Urlacher looked like Brian Urlacher, which is another good sign. It didn't look like he had a lost a step at all as he ranged from sideline to sideline on the first few series.

Matt Mayberry impressed me as well. The rookie free-agent linebacker whiffed on a sack opportunity but always seemed to be in the right place making the right play. I didn't think he had a chance to make a roster deep at linebacker but now I'm not so sure. The kid has the look of somebody who might have a longer-than-expected career --- if not here, than elsewhere.

The first-team offense really showed some explosiveness and big-play ability, which could be what separates this Bears team from any in recent memory. The offense needs to be special to make up for question marks in other areas. In the short time the first unit was on the field, it proved that it has that potential.

The first exhibition game hadn't even ended and already it appears the Bears made a mistake by not signing a veteran backup quarterback. Nothing against Caleb Hanie, who left the game after injuring his shoulder in the third quarter, but the Bears have an inexperienced undrafted free agent and a sixth-round draft pick backing up the most important position on the field. The extent of Hanie's injury is not yet known, and likely won't be announced today, according to a team spokesperson. However, if it's serious, the Bears could be in big trouble. Rookie Dan LeFevour is clearly a long-term project who is not ready to be pressed into duty, which leaves exactly ... no one ... to step up if Cutler is injured. More and more, not signing a veteran backup looks like a HUGE oversight.

I thought Kahlil Bell took an early and decisive lead over Garrett Wolfe in the battle to be the third running back. Wolfe is a good special teams player, though, which counts for a lot.

The special teams were horrid against the Chargers. Don't worry. They'll improve. They always do under Dave Toub.

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20 Comments

Neil, welcome back.

I agree about rookie linebacker Matt Mayberry, I liked him coming out of college. I thought Chicago was gonna draft him, turns out they didn't even have to, they got him as a rookie free agent. I thought linebacker Kevin Malast, another young linebacker, looked pretty good also. As far as the vets, Nick Roach continues to make plays having the nights lone sack for Chicago, he was pretty active.

Major Wright does look like the real deal, but what worries me is he might be a player that has trouble staying on the field. Wright's durability may be a concern.

If Hanie is down for awhile or has to go on IR, they need to bring in McCown, McCown at the very least is familiar with Martz's scheme, I'd bring him in. In the end, I'd rather be worried about who is gonna be the backup vs who is gonna be the starter. For the first time in I don't how long we know who the clear cut starting QB is in Chicago, Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler is gonna put up 4000 yards this season on his way to becoming a member of the Kevin Armstead Beast squad. Again, I'd rather be worried about who the #2 is gonna be at this time of year vs who is gonna be the starter like a lot of other clubs who unlike Chicago, don't have a clear cut starter GO BEARS!!

Wait Kevin did you say Jay Cutler is not on your total Beast squad yet? Please do the rest of us Bear fans a favor and don;t put him on that list. We don;t need the Kevin Armstead total beast curse killing our QB. Everyone on that list either gets hurt or is bad. You already have Dan Leflavor on that list, Hanie too. Steltz, Chris Williams, Dusty, Beekman, Hester etc... Please for the love of god do not put Jay on that list. You already have the entire O-line and both starting backs on that list. You add Cutler to that list and he is going to get killed.

Oh and Thanks for the insight on Cutler throwing for 4000 yards this year. Congrads he can now join Jon Kitna in the Martz HOF. Really a QB in the Martz offense throws for 4000 yards not much of a stretch. What next a reciever will have a 1000 yard season in the Martz offense. Considering Furrey, Williams, and McDonald all did it for Martz in Detroit I am pretty sure just about any reciever can do it. Didn't Bruce have almost a 1000 yards for Martz in 2008 with the 9ers, that was his 15th season. Why don;t you let us know who will be the 1400 yard rusher, with an average of 4 yards or better per carry.

Neil I didn;t see Melton play against the Chargers first team offense so I can't say with him.

I am not that worried about the pass rush, I don't think it will be great, but I don't think it will be bad. The Bears did not run any stunts last night and you know Peppers was not going full go. But the run defense really worries me. Wright did a nice job in run support but if I am not mistaken he was cleaning up some D-Line mistakes here and there and got hurt because he cleaned up another players mistake. By the way he looks more like a SS than a FS.

I totally agree on signing a Vet backup. Huge mistake and we all know Martz wanted a vet too.

Well bring on Oakland. They are not very good and the Bears should look better against them.

Kevin you say Cutler will have 4000 yards. Fine he and the rest of the Martz QB's. But you don;t say how many TD'S, INT'S, sacks, pressures, hits you think he will have.

Do yards win a football game? Or do points. At the end of the day it's and offense that gives up sacks and hits, and tends to throw a lot of picks. It's also not a great Red Zone offesne without Faulk. In fact it is better at scoring outside the 20.

So what does 4000 yards mean/ Does it mean he is joins 10-15 other QB's in the nfl. Dude has already passed for 4500 yards in a season and didn't see the playoffs. So 500 yards less than that means what?

@Kevin- Why are so worried who's the #2 if Jay is in your Beast squad by throwing 4k yards? The guy is tough as nails, so it's possible he makes it through the season. Like you said, McCown should be picked up immediately, cause at least he has a chance to "manage" the team to a win if JC is out for a game or two.

Kevin,
Making sure you have a legitimate back up is very much a part of the team concept. When Brady went down, Cassell came in and played well. They didn't make the playoffs but he performed well.clear starter or not, if they go down and there's no replacement the season is gone. Successful teams have made it a point to have one. No one knows his yardage total because they didn't play long enough for anyone to gather alot of info from it. Defenses work on different situations in the preseason so the coverage will be tighter once the season comes. He occupies one spot and is not a savior. If the team is not well built then it will show up. Starter or nor they need quality backups. Depth separates teams. You don't wait until someone goes down to decide that you want a quality backup because they are probably all gone. You always prepare for the future by taking care of business today.

Lovie and the other coaches need to pick it up!!!!!

ahhh...teh only thouhgts taht matter are MINE loosers. from waht i saw this team is heeded NOWhere!! all tehse loosers are BUSTYS!

majore wrtight like is aid is a MAJOR BUST!!

steltz...hahhaaha..no no icant even...hahahahah..amother angelo speical

the hole line sucks. both lines taht is. just like i ve been saying sense last century.

bowman??? more like BUSTMAN!!!! hahha i am so awsome somtimes. no wait, all teh time.

hanie BUST, lefever BUST, wooten BUST, wolfe BUST, Bell BUST, man i ams on a roll. sombody stop me. oh wait you cant.

man it feels so good tobe write every single dsay of every sigle year. getr used to it loosers for i am the king of kings.

aww hey their kevin BUMsted...still cheering for teh team taht you love? hahahahah!!! waht a looser. why canut you be more like me ans HATE everyone ans everything? makes me feel betters abot my low self esteem.

but ou guys now me old crap-ton...justy trying to be posatuive

ps MOM! MEATLOAF!! F###!

Garrett Wolfe is a solid special teams player, but he is also an explosive offensive tool which the bears have failed to utilize. He hasn't gotten the touches he deserved in the past. The Bears need to hold onto Garrett Wolfe

Neil,

The bears not going after a seasoned QB is not abnormal for this team. Angelo is always a dollar short when it comes to good football decisions. That is why he has to go. He can't draft either. Until the motley crew at the top is gone, this team is going nowhere.

The Chargers didn't even have all of their starters in the game saturday and had no problem dealing with the bears. Even their second string looked much better than ours. How many stupid penalties did the chargers make in the game? And they still had no problem destroying the bears. But it was the first game for the bears and so it was for the chargers. Chargers are a playoff team and they showed that difference in saturdays game. Anyone thinking the bears can be respectable this season is out of their mind. They have the toughess schedule they have had in a few years in front of them and so much to fix on this club. Time is running out for angelo and lovie and I hope that day is this coming january if not sooner. Only then does this team even have a chance to get better (down the road that is). Just too much to fix and we need some very good draft picks to fix this club.

Neil,

What is this Matt Mayberry love? Are we talking about the same Matt Mayberry that was there to give the Chargers' ball carrier a hug after he crossed the goal line for a touchdown? The same Matt Mayberry who, as you mentioned, whiffed on a sack opportunity? There's a reason why he and Kevin Malast, who I thought looked good last year but looked bad in the opener Saturday, were always around the ball and that's because the Chargers' backup quarterbacks were shredding the middle of the field where those two had coverage responsibilities.

Yep. Bears are gonna suck. Now and Forever. Creighton and Val said so.

Who cares who the backup QB is? If Cutler goes down, season over. You can say that for just about any team. If Rodgers goes down in GB, season over.

And even if the Bears do suck, don't count on both Angelo and Smith being gone. Smith probably would be, but Angelo still has till 2013 till his contract is up. You really think McCaskey is gonna eat millions to can Angelo early, and then spend millions more to hire a new awesome GM? NO. If Angelo is fired, then he will go cheap again, and skim for some flash in the pan GM again.

Neil,

Welcome back to civilization. I just watched the game for the first time last night @ 10:00 P.M. Eastern time. That's how the NFL network does it. I did listen to the game live on satelite radio and have a few observations.
Maybe Matt Forte's injury from last year was more a figment of the coaching staff's imagination than an actual injury. Wouldn't be the first time a football team would do something like that. Maybe his performance was a reflection of the ineptitude of the offensive line and the coaches didn't want to put the blame there. And yes, it was the first preseason game, but football techniques and fundamentals stay the same. If you can't move someone out of a space, then when a rb tries to move through that space, he is doomed to fail. This OL can't move anyone. Why the Frank Omiyale experiment is still going on is beyond me. He was a backup in Carolina, and it's not like there is a ton of $$$ wrapped up in him.
Jay Cutler should have played more, but I understand why he didn't. Not only can't this OL not run block, but they're not good at pass protection either. And the blitz recognition by the whole offense was horrible. If there was even a call at the line, the receivers didn't hear or didn't know what the terminology meant and the RB's left unblocked guys coming in all evening. Jay needed all the snaps he could get. He's the most important piece of the puzzle, but if you can't protect him, it doesn't matter anyway.
Johnny Knox looks like a seasoned vet after 1 year. His demeanor is completely different than last year. I am very impressed. He and DA should be the starters. And if you want to know the infuence of Lovie & Jerry on a particular situation, look at the WR's. If I am not mistaken, when Martz was hired one of his first observations {and written about in both newspapers} was that Hester should be in the slot to take advantage of the miss matches and {I hate this term} get him in space. That died on the vine, huh? Never heard anything more about that and not one question has been asked about that from the Chicago print, radio, or TV media. That is a shame.
Before we enshrine Dave Toub into Canton as the first Special Teams coach to be inducted, the long kickoff returns against the Bear's happened several times last year and at times that just sent a dagger through the heart.
One last observation and once again, I know it was the first preseason game, but wouldn't you think that Peppers would have made a bigger splash than a pebble thrown in the Pacific? The Charger's starting LT was out and I would think that after all the ??'s that Peppers took about the perception that he takes plays off, he would have come out like an animal. Hey, I am a Chicagoan and a Bear's fan, it's not like we/I haven't had our hearts crushed before.


My thoughts pretty much mirror yours, Neil. I watched the first half again last night on the NFL channel just to see the Bears play winning football.I skipped the second half for a good book.I again wondered what happened to Peppers. He seemed to disappear except for a couple of plays. Surely short passes and drops by the quarterback should not make that much difference. Is the Charger offensive line that good? I still do not like McNown.

Rivera is still mad and came after Cutler-- who all the Chargers still hate from his Denver days-- with a series of blitzes that most teams wouldn't use in preseason game 1. This was done just to stick it to Lovie. It was done with Norv Turner's blessing after Lovie also fired his brother. Lovie countered by pulling Cutler and feeding Hanie to the wolves. Ditka or Buddy Ryan would have blitzed him right back. That's the problem. The Bears are pushovers. Every team knows it. On the bright side, Major Wright is a poor mans' Bob Sanders. Sure hope he can stay healthy-- Sanders hasn't done so hot at that part of it.

Peppers will show up when the bell rings! The O line is brand new at three positions, there is going to be some real issues for awhile, probably into the mid part of the season, no excuses for running backs blocking on blitzes though.

Toub's team will excel and probably will give up a few big plays as all special team do. Special teams will still be special.

QB backup is of concern, I hope Caleb is ok.

I couldn't watch the first preseason game because of prior commitments. However, then when I saw the results and read some of the comments, I said to myself...I am glad I did not watch. What is intriguing is the way Bears management looks at their defensive line. Lacking in size is pretty obvious and has been for the last five years. What is bothersome especially to Bears fans is the way Bears management looks at obvious things and their lack of understanding that the key to a good line is for the defensive line to be massive, like the Minnesotta Vikings for example. Let us just hope and pray that these two massive defensive linemen, aka Williams Wall or any other defensive guys overrun the pathetic offensive line and hurt Jay Cutler. Because if Cutler is injured, then the season is over!

I couldn't watch the first preseason game because of prior commitments. However, then when I saw the results and read some of the comments, I said to myself...I am glad I did not watch. What is intriguing is the way Bears management looks at their defensive line. Lacking in size is pretty obvious and has been for the last five years. What is bothersome especially to Bears fans is the way Bears management looks at obvious things and their lack of understanding that the key to a good line is for the defensive line to be massive, like the Minnesotta Vikings for example. Let us just hope and pray that these two massive defensive linemen, aka Williams Wall or any other defensive guys overrun the pathetic offensive line and hurt Jay Cutler. Because if Cutler is injured, then the season is over!

Corrected submittal!

I couldn't watch the first preseason game because of prior commitments. However, then when I saw the results and read some of the comments, I said to myself...I am glad I did not watch. What is intriguing is the way Bears management looks at their defensive line. Lacking in size is pretty obvious and has been for the last five years. What is bothersome especially to Bears fans is the way Bears management looks at obvious things and their lack of understanding that the key to a good line is for the defensive line to be massive, like the Minnesotta Vikings for example. Let us just hope and pray that these two massive defensive linemen, aka Williams Wall or any other defensive guys do not overrun the pathetic offensive line and hurt Jay Cutler. Because if Cutler is injured, then the season is over!

Paul Manter,

You said "Is the Charger offensive line that good?"

YOu have been sold a bill of goods stating that the bears should make the playoffs.
Saturday night, you saw a playoff team and it wasn't the bears.
Now you know how far the bears have to go just to be a playoff team.
The chargers didn't even play all of their starters. Their secondary looked better than ours. Lots of penalties by the chargers but they seemed to manage to destroy the bears anyway.
That is the difference.
Wait till next year.


Ryan,
Thanks for the accolades

Your argument on angelo doesn't make sense. The Mccashkies are not getting their money's worth on the players and that cost is 120 Million per year. Salary for angelo is peanuts in comparison.

They destroy the Bears, Paul? That my friend was a joke. It's preseason, son. you can win every preseason game and not win a game in regular season. You should be looking for improvement, adjustment, talent level going upward, what are they working on. that's preseason. The very things u look for on a regular 9-5. What the Chargers did was by all means odd by blitzing from the very start of the game [preseason, mind you] like they needed a win more then checking out their personel. A team that blitzes that much will get burn alot, and cutler did burn them and we did not even game plan for them. The only thing I'am concern with is better tackling.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on August 15, 2010 12:24 PM.

With Hanie's status unclear, what QBs are out there? was the previous entry in this blog.

Hanie isn't worried about shoulder injury is the next entry in this blog.

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