Chicago Bears: Top 5 Performers in Friday's Preseason Victory Against Oakland
The Chicago Bears picked up their second preseason victory against the Oakland Raiders on Friday night.
The final score of 34-26 doesn't even begin to tell the story. Sure, the Raiders will more than likely be contending for a top draft pick next spring. But we did learn a lot about the 2013 Chicago Bears. The offense put up it's best performance of the summer.
Jay Cutler showed flashes of what he may be capable of in Marc Trestman's offense. We saw glimpses of how the running backs will factor into this new scheme, we also saw a dramatic improvement by the offensive line.
The starting defense put on a solid performance, but the second- and third-team defenses almost gave the game away. In the end, there were a lot more positives than negatives in the victory of Oakland.
Here are the top five Bear players from Week 3.
No. 5: The Offensive Line
It's been well documented that the offensive line has been problematic for the Chicago Bears in recent years. That's why Bears general manager Phil Emery invested a great deal of money to upgrade the position.
Rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills have ascended to the top of the depth chart over the last two weeks. Veteran pickups such as Matt Slauson and Eben Britton have also pitched in quite nicely. Then there was the major acquisition of left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who has already started to pay dividends.
Throughout the offseason workouts and the first two weeks of the preseason, the line was still working out some kinks. In Week 3 against the Raiders, the boys up front seemed to have finally gotten their act together.
They dominated in the run game and did not allow a single sack, proving that the Chicago passing game can work miracles when the line keeps their QBs upright.
If the starting group—Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long and Mills—can show up on a week-to-week basis, the Bears will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.
No. 4: Michael Bush
19 yards on 10 carries may not seem like a whole lot for an NFL running back. But when you consider that Michael Bush is made for short-yardage situations, he did exactly what he was supposed to do against the Raiders.
Both of Bush's touchdown runs took place in the red zone. This is exactly why the former Louisville standout was brought in last season. Last year, Bush was slowed down by poor blocking and a season-ending rib injury.
If the 29-year-old can stay healthy, and if the offensive line can continue to clear the pathways, then Bush will have no problem living up to his $14 million dollar contract.
No. 3: Matt Forte
When Matt Forte was drafted out of Tulane in 2008, it was believed that he was capable of being a Marshall Faulk/Warrick Dunn-type player. Aside from injuries and lackluster offensive lines, Forte has tried his best to live up to those expectations during his tenure in Chicago.
Playing with a new scheme and a new offensive line, Matt Forte appears poised to once again display his dual-threat capabilities. Against Oakland, Forte had eight total touches for 109 all-purpose yards, including a 32-yard first-quarter touchdown reception that gave the Bears a 10-0 lead.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, you can expect the 27-year-old to have more performances like this when the season finally starts.
No. 2: Alshon Jeffery
No Brandon Marshall, no problem!
Well at least that was the statement that Alshon Jeffery made on Friday night. Jay Cutler's favorite receiver (Marshall) did not catch a single pass in front of "The Black Hole," but Jeffery was more than happy to pick up the slack.
He led the Bears with seven catches for 77 yards. Early on in the game, the second-year man out of South Carolina made what could be the best catch of the preseason, snagging a pass in the heart of the baseball infield (the Oakland Athletics also play at the Oakland Coliseum). He then pivoted away from Oakland's first-round draft pick, cornerback D.J. Hayden, and went for a first down.
This was just one of the many big catches he made throughout the evening, a game in which Jeffery showed his development, maturity and his dedication to getting better as a player.
Expect him to have many more games like this in the future.
No. 1: Jay Cutler
I think it's a safe bet that Jay Cutler got tired of all of the criticism surrounding him. Especially when people say he only knows how to throw to Brandon Marshall.
Against Oakland, Cutler proved that he can spread the ball around when needed.
He completed 12 of 21 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. Sure, without some dropped passes there could have been even more completions. But what's encouraging is that Cutler, benefiting from great pass protection, spread the ball to six different receivers.
He also made good decisions, threw with accuracy and urgency, showed a quick release and took full control of this offense.
Now, we can only hope that he can continue this on a weekly basis once the regular season begins.