In the five drives this preseason in which the Bears first team has been on the field they've nabbed two interceptions, allowed two field goals, and given up one touchdown on a drive where they started backed up at their own 18 thanks to a fumble (oh, and they forced a 3rd down sack and killed that drive, yet it was overturned by a bullshit "point of emphasis" defensive holding call). They've allowed just one run longer than seven yards on those drives after being #32 in run defense last year.
Have their been moments of ugliness? Sure. The pressure failed to get home on a few third downs tonight and Chad Henne made them pay. The Bears were playing a vanilla two deep safety concept and there was space underneath. It happens. It's been happening for 10 years now. Ryan Mundy followed up a pretty good start against Philadelphia with a pretty crappy game tonight. I have the same concerns everyone has, but of course there's more panic than necessary because they gave up a bunch of passing yards in the first half of a preseason game.
My point? It's finally Bears season, and Bears fans are back in force. Love y'all.
Jay Cutler: One benefit to the Bears running attack being ass so far this preseason has been that Jay has mostly worked on 3rd and Long passing and he's been very impressive in less than easy situations. He was pretty successful in that scenario last season as well. It's a welcome change from the Martzian days where anything longer than 3rd and 5 probably meant Jay was destined for pain. Jay was 7 of 9 for 75 yards and a TD tonight. So far in the preseason he's 16-22 for 160 yds, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, and a 123 rating. Most importantly he's yet to take a sack. Stay healthy, Jaiy. This is going to be fun.
Pass Protection: The Jaguars defensive line isn't world-class by any measure, but Sen'Derrick Marks, Chris Clemons, and Red Bryant are not a bad group, and they destroyed poor Josh McCown last week, so it was nice to see Jay have all of the time he could want.
Linebackers: They were atrocious last week, and weren't perfect this week, but Bostic and McClellin deserve a nod for making some plays in the backfield. Bostic in particular obliterated Luke Joeckel to blow up a Toby Gerhart run on 3rd down and force a field goal. I was heartened somewhat by their efforts, at least.
Jeremiah Ratliff: He's been in the backfield a lot so far. It's nice to see. Of all of the terrible things that befell the defense last year, having no presence at under-tackle was the worst. If Ratliff can fix that, good things will follow.
Sherrick McManis: He's always been solid on special teams, but Sherrick really impressed at corner tonight, breaking up one TD pass and being in on several other plays. I wonder if he's putting heat on Kelvin Hayden, who did not impress tonight at all.
Josh Morgan: Unless Eric Weems walks on water during practices, I don't see why the hell he should get another chance to run with the ones. Morgan caught all three of his targets for 41 yards, with one very impressive leaping grab. He's got by far the best NFL track record of any of the candidates, and it's not even close.
Blake Bortles: I'm sure Ron Hyperbole Jaworski will have Bortles in the hall of fame by tomorrow if he thinks Logan f*&king Thomas is a Pro Bowler, but Bortles made some very nice throws tonight. I was impressed.
Safeties: They were bad. Specifically Mundy, who was out of place on the only long run the first team D allowed and on one of the third down conversions as well.
Kelvin Hayden: I'm glad to hear Kyle Fuller is fine, because Hayden does not appear improved from his year off. Marqise Lee abused him twice. The penalty on him was bullshit, but, oh well. Kelvin Hayden sucks. This is not news.
Eric Weems: I've said it three goddamn years in a row. What purpose does this man serve? He was terrible on all three kick returns he got, fumbled to set up a TD, and I am not at all surprised his "great camp" hasn't translated to anything in games because when a man's best season (11 catches for 90 yards) is a bad game for Brandon Marshall that person does not usually break out in year eight. I saw the better version of this movie when it was called Devin Hester, and this direct-to-video sequel sucks. Get him off the field.
Injuries: Kyle Fuller left after the first play of the game, which cost him some useful developmental time. Fortunately X-rays on his ankle are negative and he said he should be fine. The Zach Miller injury sounds much worse, and that's sad. Miller clearly has the talent, but unfortunately health sometimes is a skill, too, and he doesn't appear to have that.
That's all for now. I saw nothing that will cause me to panic yet, but I didn't exactly expect the defense to dominate overnight, either. Next week will be a very interesting test. I'm sure the response to that will be perfectly measured, regardless of what happens.