Bears vs. Bengals: What We Learned About the Monsters of the Midway
It wasn’t exactly how the Chicago Bears planned to win, but they will take a comeback victory any day of the week. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in their season opener Sunday, Chicago faced a deficit heading into the fourth quarter and found a way to pull out the win.
In Marc Trestman’s debut as the new head coach in Chicago, the Bears’ offense showed plenty of potential. One of the biggest takeaways from the game, to begin with, was the play of tight end Martellus Bennett. Quarterback Jay Cutler must have forgotten what it was like to play with a tight end that could not only catch the ball, but hang onto it and make something happen after the catch.
Bennett looked quick, athletic and showed great hands. Having a big target like Bennett will surely open up the offense even further for Cutler. Speaking of opening up the offense, Cutler seems to be getting more comfortable throwing the ball to second year wideout Alshon Jeffery.
Now that Jeffery has a year under his belt and the Bears invested in protecting their quarterback, Cutler can progress through his reads with a bit more time and get the ball to his sophomore target. Jeffery looked fantastic on Sunday. Boasting a big body just like Brandon Marshall, Jeffery gives Cutler a second towering target to throw to.
Both Jeffery and Bennett will have big parts in this offense in 2013. Coach Trestman, for the most part, made solid play calling down the stretch and getting their ‘big three’ involved was certainly one of the biggest goals; ‘big three’ being Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett.
Another aspect of the win that Bears fans can be excited about is the fact that Cutler was not sacked once during Sunday’s victory. After the game, Cutler said that his line “won the game” for Chicago — did he ever say such a thing in past seasons with the Bears? If he did, it was far too long ago that I cannot remember those glorious words.
Rookies Jordan Mills and Kyle Long went the entire game without a penalty and played fairly well on most occasions. There were moments where the protection and/or blocking seemed to break down a bit on the right side, but as a whole their performance was very good; especially considering it to be their first NFL starts.
Defense wins championships, as we all know, and the Bears continued to do what they do best: Take the ball away on a consistent basis. Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings displayed why they were the first pair of teammates to start at corner in the Pro Bowl since 1939 as each of them were very active in going for the ball.
The kicker? Tillman posted two interceptions and Jennings forced two fumbles. Last year, you would have thought it’d be the other way around.
Overall, the Bears’ performance was no where near perfect. The running game could have been better. The defense could have been much better on third down. The pass rush could have been more present. But, in the end, Chicago got an season-opening win against a very good Bengals team. It’s a long season, and there will be time to shore up those areas of needed improvement.