Last night the Chicago Bears played their first preseason game at Soldier field, A nice 34- 28 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Preseason games are full of miscues and mistakes and Friday night was no exception. Viewers were treated to some extra pixels courtesy of the FOX Sports feed from Soldier field. Most of the first quarter was essentially unviewable due to this error. Seems like everybody, even the broadcast network, were in preseason mode.
The Bears first team offense looked sharp after shaking of some early jitters and rust from last season. On their second drive with Jay Cutler at the helm they were able to move the ball effectively down the field. Jay Cutler was 9-13 for the game and 8-11 on his lone score drive. He hit Zach Miller for one of his two scores on a nice back shoulder throw to open the scoring for the Bears. The first team offense was able to protect Cutler well even without Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. Micheal Ola and Dennis Roland filled in well for the missing starters.
Zach Miller was the star of the night and loudly proclaimed why he should make this year’s roster. He has performed well in training camp to date but last night he was a man on fire. Miller caught 6 balls for a total of 2 touchdowns and he showed an ability to run after the catch, an invaluable attribute in this offense. He showed off some nifty moves after the catch and on several occasions was able to make the first tackler miss and gain extra yards,
The third wide receiver position is still wide open with the injury to Marquess Wilson. Chris Williams burned the Philadelphia defense on a nice 73 yard strike down the right sideline, beating the corner and safety with pure speed and a nice throw by Jimmy Clausen. Micheal Spulock and Josh Morgan played well with Spurlock grabbing 4 balls for 56 yards to pace the second group of receivers.
The defensive line looked impressive even without Jared Allen. Lamarr Houston, Stephen Paea, Jerimiah Ratliff and Willie Young put constant pressure on Nick Foles forcing him into two interceptions. Preliminary analysis of the defense is this year is the line is fixed, and this defense will pressure offenses all season long. The second year unit under Mel Tucker forced 4 turnovers and might have had a fifth if first year cornerback Al Louis-Jean had been able to corral his second pick of the night.
The jury is still out on the Shea McClellin project. He played in quite a few snaps and got the nod at starting strong side linebacker, but his unofficial numbers showed only 2 tackles. It was remarked by fans during training camp that McClellin was on the field a lot but you hardly noticed him. Friday was no different as he played quite a few snaps but made little impact in the game or the stat line. He needs to make an impact in order to earn the starting spot alongside Briggs and Williams
The lessons learned from last night’s contest are many but here are a few of the standouts. The tight end position is deeper than expected with Zach Miller and Donte Rosario both performing well. The defensive line is explosive and will be trouble for opposing offenses with or without Jared Allen. Finally, Jordan Palmer got the chance to earn the back up quarterback spot and after a shaky start recovered nicely with an 8 of 11 performance. Next week at camp will be interesting to see who gets more reps with the first team on both sides of the ball. Bear DOWN!