First Impressions: Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (L) looks to pass against San Diego Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett in the first quarter of their pre-season NFL football game in San Diego, California August 14, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers faced off Saturday night in a battle that should be very interesting to Oakland Raiders fan right now. The Raiders play the Bears next Saturday night and will face the Chargers twice during the regular season. Saturday will be the first time the Raiders offense gets to try their luck against a 4-3 defense. The Bears ended up losing the game 25-10. The following is my analysis of the game. 

The first thing that jumped out at me was how easily Phillip Rivers was able to just shred the Bears passing defense. The Bears are having injury issues with their safeties. Danieal Manning sat the game out with a tender hamstring. Two other safeties went down in the game against the Chargers. Major Wright suffered a finger injury and Craig Steltz suffered a leg injury on a kickoff return by the Chargers. Steltz’s injury appeared to be a little more serious. Only time will tell if any of these three guys will be active against the Raiders.

Jay Cutler and the offense looked sharp and crisp, but they only played one series. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense also only stayed on the field for one series. Very hard to judge either offensive unit based on their five minutes of playing time. However, the Bears scored a field goal on their opening drive and the Chargers answered with a touchdown.

Ryan Matthews, however, got more snaps than the rest of the offensive starters. Matthews ended up with nine carries for 50 yards and he looked really good doing it. Matthews is hard to bring down and a decent receiver out of the backfield where he dropped one pass but has two catches for 11 yards.

The Bears have three former NFL head coaches under Lovie Smith this year. Mike Martz will be the Bears’ offensive coordinator, a guy they settled for after Hue Jackson decided to take his services elsewhere. Martz is looking to put in certain packages of plays for individual players to get them involved and keep them involved in the game. Mike Tice will be the Bears’ offensive line coach this year and Rod Marinelli will be the defensive coordinator with an extra emphasis on his specialty, the defensive line.

The Chargers were able to shut Julius Peppers down even without Marcus McNeill. The rest of the defensive line did not look all that impressive either. The Bears will have to fix this issue because their scheme under Marinelli does not call for excessive blitzing, it is more like the Raiders scheme with the excessive pass coverage and relying on the front four guys to get pressure. Matt Toeaina, a defensive tackle, was the Bears’ leading defensive line tackler and had three tackles. The Bears only managed one sack, coming from outside linebacker Nick Roach.

On the offensive side, their back-up QB, Caleb Hanie, tends to throw balls long and off target. The Bears’ only offensive touchdown came on a seven yard pass from Hanie to WR Devin Aromashodu but, during the third quarter, Hanie suffered an injury to his throwing arm on a vicious hit where his throwing arm got sandwiched by two Chargers defenders and he ended up landing on the arm with a defender landing on top of him. Hanie was taken to the locker room with the training staff and his status for Saturday’s game against the Raiders is uncertain at this point in time.

The Bears wide receivers have good size, good hands, and are beginning to gain confidence working with Jay Cutler. Aromashodu had a really nice game catching four balls for 78 yards and a touchdown. Their running backs tell a different story, however. The Chargers only allowed 48 yards rushing on 21 carries. Garrett Wolfe was Chicago’s best overall running back on the day despite only having one carry for three yards. Wolfe also had one catch for three yards, but he looked really good in pass protection. He looked like a tough and mean player while the first and second string halfbacks just allowed themselves to get stuffed. Chester Taylor had six carries for ten yards and an awful fumble, while starter Matt Forte had four carries for seven yards.

Not very much went good for the Bears in San Diego. In the middle of the third quarter the Chargers sent in their third string quarterback, rookie Jonathan Crompton, to get some playing time. This move came on the ensuing possession following a safety scored on a blocked punt. Bears’ third string QB, rookie Dan Lefevour, was very accurate in his debut but the Bears’ wide receivers dropped many of the balls that Lefevour threw right on target.

The upcoming game should really tell the Raiders where they are at on offense, because even the Bears’ starting defense did not look good against the Chargers. The Raiders should have some good offensive production through the air in this game as well as on the ground. The Bears gave up far too many long third down conversions to the Chargers passing offense.

On the defensive side, this game will not be a good test for the Raiders run defense. The Bears’ running backs were absolutely atrocious and their offensive line play was highly questionable. The Raiders passing defense should be in for the toughest test out of any of the areas on the team as the Bears passed for 216 yards between their three quarterbacks. The Raiders should win this game easily unless the Bears pull out miracles in practice this week.

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