By Nick Shepkowski-
(CBS) Don’t look at the final score of last night’s contest as any indication of what to expect from the 2011 Bears. I promise you the starting defense doesn’t allow any 97-yard runs and the second team special teams unit won’t allow as bad of a blocked punt as we saw lead directly to seven points. In the meantime, here’s a quick look back at the good, bad and ugly from last night’s 41-13 loss to the Giants.
Jay Cutler – It was nice to see his improved footwork we’ve heard so much about make an appearance in a game. Going back and looking at Cutler step up in the pocket and deliver a perfect ball to Devin Hester down the right side was his best throw of the night. He had a bad down where he failed to throw the ball away and instead took a four-yard sack on first down but 12-for-21 for 171 yards along with a couple drops on well thrown balls spells a solid night for Jay.
Chris Williams – It’s easy to look at the offensive line and point fingers at who played poorly (that’ll come soon enough) but Chris Williams has quietly transitioned to respectability at left guard through the first two pre-season games. Williams was especially effective getting out and lead blocking on two screen passes and gave Forte a great block on the 42-yard reception last night (Roberto Garza had a nice block on it as well). It’s not what he was drafted to do but he’s showing the ability to play the position.
Gabe Carimi – The false start must be noted but he did a good job in pass protection. For going up against Justin Tuck for much of the night, I thought Carimi held his own. The pass protection issues that existed were not on him. It’s not a popular thought by plenty of others but I’d like to see Carimi get reps at left tackle.
Tim Jennings – For being undersized, Jennings did a fantastic job against the run. He had a key solo tackle on a third down Ahmad Bradshaw reception that kept the Giants out of the end zone. Jennings’ coverage skills remain a concern but he played very well against the run in New York.
Israel Idonije – For a guy who benefited greatly with having Julius Peppers on the opposite side all year last year, this is the second week in a row that Izzy has been almost non-existent. He played a good amount of time without Peppers which has to be noted in how the whole d-line functions but Izzy has been far from impressive in the first two games.
Major Wright – Received a lot of credit for stepping up and leading the defense in tackles a week ago but didn’t have a strong showing in week two. Too many poor dive attempts at tackles, got lost in coverage multiple times and “lost his jockstrap” on Brandon Jacobs’ touchdown run. Not a good showing from Major.
Devin Hester – I’m tired of hearing praise of Hester last night because of one play; he slipped on what would have been an easy touchdown reception a few plays later and made a pretty sad attempt to bring in the third down pass near the goaline just one play after that. Never thought myself of all people would say this but I want to see more Johnny Knox in the first team offense.
Special Teams – Maybe special teams coach Dave Toub was onto something in kicking off from the 30 last week despite the rule change. The Bears coverage in kickoff team struggled compared to what we’re used to while a blocked Spencer Lanning punt led to a Giants touchdown. Johnny Knox had a 45-yard kick return that should be noted but if you take that out, the Bears averaged just 22 yards per kick return in their other seven chances. Not a strong showing from Dave Toub’s crew.
Roy Williams – Good God almighty, I thought everything was supposed to be fixed with him because he was playing for Mike Martz again. A pair of drops while being targeted three times and he can’t get off press coverage to save his life. Williams is a 5’10” WR stuck in a 6’3” frame… with bad hands. Nowhere to go but up for him.
Chester Taylor – The only advice I have for Chester is to call Carlos Zambrano to help him clean out his locker. It’ll be a minor miracle if Taylor makes this team as Marion Barber outperformed him yet again with Taylor mustering just seven yards on three carries.
Red Zone Offense – It took until the fifth trip into the red zone for the Bears offense to finally find the end zone and even that was only after a pass interference call on fourth down. Receivers falling down, nobody who you can throw a corner fade to, struggles running on third/fourth and short all contributed to an offense that only found the end zone once in five red zone trips. This is the second week in a row this has been an issue.
Lance Louis/J’Marcus Webb – Its easy to sit here and criticize these two especially but they haven’t left any Bears fans with any other options this preseason. You’re seeing Carimi and Chris Williams both play plenty respectably but Louis was beat continuously last night and we’re seeing why Webb was still around in the seventh round of last years draft. When there was pressure against the Giants, the vast majority of the time it was these two getting beat. I really have trouble believing we won’t see Carimi eventually get a shot at LT while Williams, Roberto Garza and Chris Spencer should get a chance to start together on the interior.