Chicago Bears’ Week 1 Game Balls
Chicago Bears Week 1 Game Balls
After overcoming an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chicago Bears head into their Week 2 match-up against the Minnesota Vikings riding a one-game winning streak and tied for the lead in the NFC North with the Detroit Lions. For many in the media (and even a few Chicagoans), there wasn't much hope given to the Bears with a new coaching staff and offensive playbook going into the season opener; and that's why they play the games. On paper the Bengals appeared to be the better team, but it was the on the field play of key members of both the Bears offensive and defensive units that helped the team to secure a win for Marc Trestman in his NFL head coaching debut.
Therefore, before the league week advances and the Bears must focus on next Sunday's match-up against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings, there were quite a few Bears players who need to be praised for their on the field performance in Week 1.
Although Jay Cutler is the straw that stirs the Bears' offensive drink, and his end of game stats—21-for-33 with 242 yards passing and two touchdowns—holds to be self evident, it is the other skill position players on the offensive side of the ball that made Cutler look as good as he did in Week 1. Besides, when teams win, the quarterback always receives a bulk of the praise, so for argument's sake let's shine some light on the other cogs that helped the Bears machine get an opening day victory.
First and foremost, one game ball needs to go out to the entirety of the offensive line. Coming off a 2012 season in which the Bears O line looked like Swiss Cheese, the 2013 version at this stage appears to be anything but. Having have to deal with the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive pressure, the remade O-line allowed a goose egg in sacks. Zero. Zilch. Nothing. That in it self is a step in the right direction for a unit (albeit four out of five of the linemen are new) that allowed 40 plus sacks a season ago.
With the Bears' offense coming out in the shotgun formation with three or sometimes four receivers accompanying Cutler on the field, out of all those skill position players lined up across the line of scrimmage it was second-year wide out Jeffery (aside from Brandon Marshall) who's looked to elevate his game (at least for a game) and take advantage of one-on-one coverage as well as his on the field connection with Cutler to the tune of five catches for 42 yards and an average of 8.4 yards per catch.
In one game it seems as if first-year Bears tight end Martellus Bennett has erased all memory of the poor level of play across the board from the TE position a season ago. So with three catches for 49 yards and a spectacular touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, Bennett (much like Jeffery) seems to have a level of trust with Cutler that will hopefully take some pressure off of the team's unquestioned number one receiver.
Okay. How did Charles Tillman make this list after getting torched to the tune of nine receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns by A.J. Green? Well, when Tillman still accounts for 66 percent of the turnovers (two interceptions) caused by the Bears D which helped to keep the team in the game until the offense caught fire, that's how the ball hawking cornerback receives a Week 1 game ball.
This game ball is for the patience and preparation of the Week 1 game plan, and also for the on the field awareness and time management that Trestman displayed. For those that thought Trestman may be over his head in Week 1 as he attempted to readjust from Canadian football back to the NFL, they thought wrong. The Bears' first-year head coach was such a calming influence that it appeared to have rubbed off on Cutler, which seemed more evident as the game progressed.