Rookie guard Kyle Long started his first NFL game today.
CHICAGO- In the Bears 24-21 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013 season opener today, we got a solid answer to one of the major question marks hovering over the Bears all offseason. Today, we got to see the rebuilt offensive line in action. We finally got to see Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, and rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills play a full four quarters today.
On this day, the guys up front were expected to face a major challenge with the Bengals defensive line. Led by defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the Bengals were picked by many to test the new line and give Jay Cutler a hard time. Many had also predicted that Long and Mills would get their official welcome into the National Football League.
Instead, the rookies would have their breakout game, while the veterans proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. Cincinnati used five defensive linemen today…. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko, Michael Johnson and Brandon Thompson all lined up against the Bears at Solider Field.
They only combined for 10 of the Bengals 54 total tackles today, Geno Atkins did not have a single one of them. Another player that was supposed to be problematic was trash talking, rule breaking linebacker James Harrison. In 60 minutes of football today, no. 92 only had one lousy tackle to his name.
The Bears offense did get off to a slow start, and they did have to overcome an 11-point second half deficit, but Aaron Kromer’s offensive line was not intimidated. Jay Cutler got the best protection to date in a Bears uniform today. He did get hit four times, but that is an improvement from previous years.
The best stat was the number of sacks Cutler took today, zero. The line did an excellent job of keeping Cutler upright this afternoon. And because of their efforts, the outspoken QB threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with a 93.2 passer rating.
Cutler showed today that when he does have the ideal pass protection, he can make great things happen with the passing game. He was able to release the ball quickly, most of his passes were accurate and he had more time to make decisions. The Bears only had 81 rushing yards on the day, but most of those came in the second half.
The o-line’s best moment came in the fourth quarter during the 11 play, 41 yard drive that ate the final 6 minutes and 38 seconds of the game clock. The Bears ran the ball for 13 of those 41 yards. The Bengals front seven was pushed around on every play of that drive which allowed the Bears to run out the clock.
At the end of the day, the Cincinnati defense was tired and out of breath. They eventually couldn’t keep up with the Bears and the Monsters of the Midway took advantage of the situation. The end result is…… Jay Cutler being an effective passer, the running game getting just enough production, and the offensive line showing some much needed improvement.
Next week the Bears have a chance to do the same to their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82