The Chicago Bears held off a furious fourth quarter challenge by the San Diego Chargers to present Marc Trestman with his first victory as a head coach 33-28 over the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field.
It's time to examine what we learned from Week 2 of the preseason.
1) Brandon Marshall is still Jay Cutler’s favorite, BFF, security blanket, etc.
At least it seemed that way in the first quarter.
In his time on the field Cutler completed 4-of-5 passes for 38 yards, 1 touchdown and an interception. The troubling aspect of his night was every Cutler pass was in the direction of Brandon Marshall.
The touchdown to Marshall was a laser laid precisely on his outer shoulder after he had used his strength to free himself in the end zone. The interception was a ball Cutler tried to force to Marshall through double coverage.
Since this was the second game of the Bears installing an offense that's supposed to spread the ball around to targets all over the field the question is why was Marshall the only receiving target during his time in the game against the Chargers? The answer is, because of the way ESPN covered Thursday night's game, we'll never know.
It's not surprising that ESPN put on a broadcast with few frills for a preseason game except that they were touting their broadcast as a special edition of Monday Night Football. There was no skycam in use at the game, although ESPN has used it in preseason telecasts before. Without a way to get a Cutler-eyes view of the field there's no way to know how pass routes were developing.
Was Alshon Jeffery covered or was there a window to get him the ball? Was Martellus Bennett getting slowed off the line of scrimmage, being used to chip block before breaking into his route or was he just well covered? Obviously the broadcast team of Chris "Boomer" Berman and Trent Dilfer didn't feel these were important questions to analyze.
To find out if Cutler was continuing to work on getting comfortable in the offense during Marshall's first action of the spring, or if he just can't resist throwing to his BFF, we won't find out until the Bears play the Raiders next week.
2) Fortunately for the Chargers' offense, it's still the preseason.
Philip Rivers wanted to use this game to begin the process of creating a positive mind-set on the road for the Chargers. They'll have to try again next Saturday when they invade Arizona to face the Cardinals.
To begin with, Rivers was 5-of-9 passing for 50 yards, 1 interception and a 31.9 passer rating in his time on the field. He also lost a fumble when defensive end Shea McClellin beat speed rushed past Max Starks to strip the ball from Rivers' hand.
The Chargers turned over the ball three other times in the game on a Keenan Allen muffed punt, a fumble by Charlie Whitehurst and a fumble from third-string quarterback Brad Sorensen.
To be fair to the Chargers they were facing the team that led the NFL in creating turnovers last season. The Bears also forced four by the Carolina Panthers last week.
The big positive for the Chargers on offense came from Charlie Whitehurst, who was 9-of-13 for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns and a 130.4 passer rating. Granted Whitehurst's effort was not against the Bears' first-string defense but he did look poised and decisive in the pocket while rallying San Diego on their comeback.
The Chargers also got another strong game from running back Ryan Mathews who rushed for 46 yards on 9 carries.
3) Kyle Long and Jordan Mills took over the right side of the offensive line last night in the same way James Brown and J'Marcus Webb didn't last week.
Mills was a bit unsteady at times playing tackle but still made a strong showing. Long was a monster during his time in the game. The Bears showed confidence in the rookies by running quite a bit of their offense through the right side, especially for Matt Forte's touchdown run.
For someone who missed mini-camps and OTAs because of college football rules Long has progressed quite a ways since training camp started. He got by on his natural strength against the Panthers but is rapidly picking up technique via coordinator and offensive line guru Aaron Kromer. He was even called on to pull on a play and pancaked his target to clear the hole.
With tackle Jonathan Scott working his way back from a knee injury next week expect Long and Mills to start again against the Raiders next Friday.
4) The Chargers' offense struggled but their defense came to play.
Jarrett Jackson and Corey Liuget broke through the Bears' offensive line to register two sacks in the Bears' first three plays.
They only gave up one long drive to the Bears all game, in the first quarter, 7 plays, 84 yards capped by the 5-yard touchdown pass to Marshall.
The rest of the game San Diego gave up four Robbie Gould field goals after the Bears began drives on the their side of the field.
San Diego's defense also played well against Seattle's starting unit last week, holding them scoreless on two drives.
If their defense keeps performing the way they have to now it'll be up to the Chargers' offense to prove they're worthy of the effort being put out on the other side of the ball.
5) Jon Bostic is still learning in the middle but no one needs to teach him how to hit!
On the third play of the third quarter wide receiver Mike Willie was in the right flat to pull in a short pass when he was annihilated by Bostic, who jarred the ball loose for an incomplete pass.
How hard did Bostic hit Willie? He blowed him up into little receiver pieces. Fans in the front row all around the stadium were scraping pieces of him off their replica jerseys the rest of the game. Bostic hit Willie so hard his kids will be learning to stagger, not walk.
Seriously, if Mike Willie didn't pop up off the turf relatively unharmed after the play the tone of this section would have been quite a bit different. But he did stand right back up and football fans have one of the biggest hits of the offseason to enjoy over and over again (considering how many .gif's currently exist of it).
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