Or, What's Not to Hate about the Opening Day of the 2009 Season for the Chicago Bears?
After watching new trophy quarterback Jay Cutler implode during the first half of a 21-15 loss to hated rivals the Green Bay Packers, fans were greeted to the news this morning that Brian Urlacher, team captain and anchor of the resurgent Bears defense, will miss the entirety of the 2009 campaign.
Whoa. Hold up. Zounds?
It's been a lot to swallow in one 12-hour period. Nothing can overstate what the loss of a guy like Urlacher does to this franchise.
However, there are several things the Bears and Bears faithful can feel good about after this Hindenburg-style disaster has flamed out on their front lawn.
1) The Bears defense looked good. Really good.
Rod Marinelli is as good as advertised. The Bears registered four sacks (where have you been, Adewale Ogunleye?) and largely kept a potentially fantastic Green Bay offense in check for the vast majority of the game. Keep this is mind also—the Bears did it without Urlacher and new acquisition Pisa Tinoisamoa for the majority of the game.
The Bears brass have repeatedly said that they have the "deepest linebacking corps" in the NFL, and for one game, at least, they were proved right.
The defense didn't miss a beat, and outside of one really costly error at the end of the game (and, to be fair, a great play call on the part of the Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin), the secondary more than held their own against maybe the best wide receiving corps in the NFL not in Arizona.
It remains to be seen whether or not they'll be able to keep this up the entire season without Urlacher manning the middle of the field, but if last night was any indication, they should be fine.
2) Jay Cutler quietly had a great second half.
I know, I know, I know. This is probably one of those "you can polish a turd...but it's still a turd" kind of statements, but hear me out.
Make no mistake—what Jay Cutler was asked to do was unimaginably difficult. First game, new offensive line, inexperienced receiving corps, on the road against your archrival? This was the very definition of "trial by fire."
After trying to do WAY too much in the first half and weathering dropped passes and miscommunication (or sometimes just the wrong routes) from his largely green receiving corps, Cutler made adjustments at halftime and came back with his head screwed on straight.
In the second half, he made good decisions and accurate throws. This bodes well for the Bears moving forward. It helped that the Bears coaching staff got back to running the ball in the second half. They absolutely have to do a better job of running the football if they plan on competing for this division.
3) Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.
Hester and Knox will be nightmares for defensive coordinators as this season progresses. They both have huge play capability in both straight line speed and open field dynamism.
Knox is going to make rookie mistakes, but he needs to be out there because he simply makes plays every time he's on the field. Kudos to the coaching staff for putting him out there.
Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of things that need to be fixed moving forward, and they need to get fixed fast.
However, after watching the Bears rebound well from what could have been a horrific first half, and after having watched them go into Green Bay and come one play from beating the Packers in Lambeau, the Bears and Bears Nation should take a deep, deep breath and exhale.
This team is going to be fine.