What We Learned from the Chicago Bears’ Week One Win Against the Cincinnati Bengals
The Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals faced off in an exciting week one matchup that was all it was hyped up to be. Both teams played extremely well, and either team could have won it had a few things gone differently. Regardless, the Bears came away with the win, and they have a lot to feel good about. The Bengals too should have some things to build from, but also some things to work on. There is much to be learned from every game, and this one had quite a bit. As Marc Trestman’s first game as head coach of the Bears, it was the first look at just how the Bears will be run this season. Here is what we learned from the Bears’ week one win against the Bengals.
Trestman knows how to keep Jay Cutler safe.
From the get-go, Trestman came out with quick passes. Jay Cutler rarely held the ball for more than a few seconds on any play in the first few drives. This kept Jay from being hit while jump-starting the offense. After he got the quick passes going, Trestman dialed up the running game, keeping the Bengals’ defense honest and getting Matt Forte involved. This allowed the play-action game to work very well, and both were the main reasons that Cutler was not sacked the entire game. This, and a strong performance from the offensive line.
The offensive line is improving but still has things to work on.
Cutler was clean for most of the game and took very few hits. Kyle Long had an excellent game at right guard in both the running and passing game, and fellow rookie Jordan Mills was solid next to him. Bushrod had a pretty good opener, keeping Cutler’s blindside well protected. Roberto Garza struggled at times on both runs and passes, but overall he was not awful. He did have a lot of high snaps on shotgun plays though. Slauson too had some issues, mostly on runs, but the group was very good overall. The rookies seemed to out-play the veterans in this one. The running game is where the group needs the most improvement, with both Bears’ running backs averaging around 2.5 yards per carry.
Cutler trusts his receivers.
Brandon Marshall led the team with 10 targets, as expected, but the ball would see five other receivers. Alshon Jeffery was second with eight targets and made some crucial plays down the stretch. Forte and Martellus Bennett tied with six targets each, and Cutler looked to them often when he was in a bind. Jay quickly forgot about Bennett’s first quarter drop and found him in the endzone. Earl Bennett and Michael Bush were both targeted once, but it shows that Cutler isn’t just looking for his top receivers. It is worth noting that Kyle Adams saw significant playing time out at wide receiver, although he did not receive a target.
The offense flows through Matt Forte.
Forte had 19 carries for only 50 yards and a touchdown, but his impact was still felt, forcing the defense to respect the run. He also had four catches for 41 yards, including a 24 yard catch in the beginning of the fourth quarter. He was all over the field for the Bears, and the Bengals’ defense had to account for him at all times. Backup runningback Michael Bush didn’t see the field until 2there were two minutes and 43 seconds left in the first quarter, and he didn’t carry the ball until the fourth quarter. Forte was a workhorse out there and he should be a big part of the offense the whole season
The defense is a little rusty.
While Charles Tillman was able to make a key interception early on, the defense struggled for most of the game. They were sloppy with their tackles, often requiring two or three players to get to the ball carrier before they could bring him down. They struggled to put pressure on Andy Dalton, a big reason for the Bengals’ early success. They didn’t get a sack until there were less than eight minutes left in the game, and they only hit the quarterback once. The group stepped up when it counted though, forcing a fumble that initiated the comeback drive and making a critical third down stop in the fourth quarter. Those were credited to Tim Jennings and James Anderson, respectively. It was only one game, so it is too early to tell whether more struggles are in the future or if they will get it together and be ready for the Vikings week two.
The Bears’ special teams are still special.
Adam Podlesh had an excellent game punting, pinning the Bengals behind their 15 yard line three times and averaging 46.4 yards per punt. Robbie Gould set a Bears’ record for longest field goal with his 58-yard hit at the end of the first half, and he is showing everyone that he is has a powerful boot. Teams still fear Devin Hester despite his recent struggles, as the Bengals constantly punted away from him and sent every kickoff out of the back of the endzone to prevent him from having a change to return.
Phil Emery knows what he is doing.
The Bears’ new additions had great games. Martellus Bennett had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Bushrod, Long, and Mills all had good games protecting Cutler, while new linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson were excellent in coverage. Even Khaseem Greene was able to contribute with a special teams tackle. Many fans questioned some of Emery’s decisions this offseason, but he proved them why he did what he did. Bears fans should be happy to have him.
The Bears can stay with good teams.
The Bears were down 11 mid-way through the third quarter to a Cincinnati Bengals team that was 10-6 last season and in the playoffs. They are one of the top defenses in the league and have a plethora of a number of offensive weapons to go with a strong offensive line. Yet, the Bears kept their cool, kept running the ball, and scored 14 unanswered points to win the game. This was the Bears’ first real game with the new coaching staff and they pulled off a game-winning drive against the Bengals that many expect to win their division. This was a huge win for the Chicago Bears, and their confidence should be sky high.