NFL Preseason 2012: Bears Defeat Redskins 33-31, 10 Things We Learned
The game was a nail-biter with the Bears blowing a 24-10 lead to go down 31-30 late in the fourth quarter. The Bears, however, came back strong on the effort of the fourth string QB and pulled out the 33-31 victory.
We saw some things on offense that we haven't ever seen before, and play on defense that showed quick flashes on why this team could be special in 2012.
In this slideshow we take a look at ten things the Bears did well and need to work on to improve upon.
Mike Tice Is Not Going to Be Afraid to Air It out on Offense
In the first half, Bears QBs Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell combined to go 13 out of 23 for 224 yards, with the Bears offense scoring 20 points. The Bears came up short on TD passes, but ended up with two short yardage touchdown runs from Michael Bush.
The Bears racked up 262 yards in the first half and showed all the balance that was expected in Tice’s scheme.
Campbell finished 9 out of 15 for 141 yards, and for the first time looked comfortable going down the field. It's this type of effort from Campbell that makes you comfortable with him as the backup to Cutler.
The Bears pounded the football with inside zone and outside power looks between Forte and Bush and then went play action with Cutler. If this game is an example of how the Bears offense will look this season, they will live up to the high expectations this season.
Jay Cutler Got into a Rhythm Early and Made Big, Confident Throws to His Receivers
On the Bears' opening touchdown drive of the game, the Bears threw five straight passes. Cutler was 4 out of 5 for 81 yards with big completions to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Marshall caught two passes for 61 yards on the drive, and Jeffery wound up with a 16-yard catch on the opening drive: it was a thing of beauty between Cutler and his receivers, something we’ve never seen before.
Alshon Jeffery Is Going to Be a Playmaker in This Offense
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I repeat: Jeffery should start ahead of Devin Hester.
Jeffery had three catches for 62 yards in this game. He was physical, breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards down the sideline. A good comeback route and a skinny post showed signs of a receiver that will make some big plays for the Bears.
Another game, another boost of confidence for the rookie. I don’t know how the Bears keep him off the field and don’t give him more targets. The Bears’ offensive success and how good it can be may be directly tied to how big of a rookie season Jeffery has.
Jeffery may not need to have a rookie-of-the-year type of season; but if he’s a strong number two option, the Bears will score a lot of points on offense.
If Jeffery is Rookie of the Year, then this offense will leave Bears fans in awe of its accomplishments.
Sticking with the Rookies
Shea McClellin showed that he is a pure pass-rusher for the second straight game. He got pressure off the edge early and set up the LT with a dynamic spin move to the outside in the second half. Brandon Hardin went hard outside, then stepped a fake inside to get leverage, and then spun quickly back to the outside for the QB hit.
It was a thing of beauty, and shows quickly why McClellin is starting to improve. He has shown quickly that he was, in fact, thinking during the first week and a half of practice. Rather than rushing, he was thinking about being blocked and, in turn, was getting blocked. Now, he's just going to get to the QB and let his talent take over.
The Bears Depth at Safety Is Tenuous at Best
Chris Conte went down with a stinger, and Brandon Hardin suffered a neck injury we hope is not serious. Hardin was carted off on a stretcher after tackling the TE by leading with his head.
The replay showed Hardin’s neck contorting in an extremely awkward manner. He had movement in all of his extremities at the hospital.
If Hardin is out for any length of time, the Bears are going to have to scour around to find a safety—a player on the waiver wire or a veteran on the street. They already traded away two 2013 draft picks: one in the Brandon Marshall deal and the other for Brian Price.
Improvement for Blake Constanzo
Blake Costanzo played well tonight, a big improvement over last week. Contanzo looked lost as a linebacker against the Broncos, but his reps as the middle linebacker tonight were good.
He shot through gaps, attacked downhill and played the edge well. Overall, he was much improved against the run compared to his effort last week against the Broncos.
Costanzo is trying to make the roster as a special teams player, but will help his cause by playing well as a linebacker when he’s out there.
Defensive Tackle Depth No Longer a Concern
After veteran minicamp, the defensive tackle position was a position of concern, yet a little over a month later and the position is arguably a strength. The trade for Brian Price was a stroke of genius: he showed how strong he is at the point of attack, and that he is quick enough to get gap penetration.
Nate Collins looks like he’s only going to get better, again showing strength to shed blocks and make plays. Combine that with his speed, and you could argue he could start and he would produce at a competent level. The talent around him is great, but his presence will help the Bears win games late in the fourth quarter.
Young CBs Aren't Very Good
Jonathan Wilhite is enjoying his last few snaps in the NFL. Wilhite was a one-year free agent pickup who was expected to come in and compete for a backup CB role. He is now heading towards the unemployment line with his second consecutive bad game.
Greg McCoy and Isaiah Frey were equally as bad, contributing to the Redskins' late-game heroics that led to the 31-30 lead with less than two minutes to play.
Blown coverages, missed tackles, you name it—these three defensive backs produced it in a bad way.
Chris Summers May Be Headed to the Practice Squad
At 6’5”, Summers is a big target with the ability to go up and get the football. He had two fade routes in the end zone and came up short on both efforts, but they were close.
Summers needs to be more physical with his size, and if he does, he could push for a roster spot in the future. He had a good catch and run, but lost the ball on a forced fumble play.
Summers also drew a pass interference call late in the game on a fly route.
He's raw, but there is talent there to work with. He must work hard in order to reach his full potential.
Evan Rodriguez Is Versatile
Evan Rodriguez showed up and played well: three catches for 49 yards, including two key receptions on the game-winning drive. He’s a matchup problem for defenses and could contribute as a rookie.
On one key reception, he lined up at fullback and ran a seam route past the linebacker and caught a pass over the head of the defender.
Tice will be able to use this rookie all over the field as a fullback, a tight end and split out wide like a receiver in four receiver sets. Rodriguez showed promise, displaying why the Bears spent a fourth round pick on him.