Bears

Hoge’s Week 1 Rewind: Mills, Paea Shine In Opening Win

Jordan Mills. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jordan Mills. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

Every Monday during the season, Adam Hoge reviews the game from the previous day and highlights the best and worst performances while also providing some observations.

(CBS) Welcome to the modern day NFL, Bears fans. Isn’t it refreshing?

While rewatching the Bears’ 24-21 win over the Bengals, I saw an innovative offense that has caught up with the rest of the league in terms of design. The execution may not always be there, but head coach Marc Trestman is bringing a refreshing new look that will challenge opposing defensive coordinators all season long.

Here’s my review of the win after reviewing the game:

Positive Grades

QB Jay Cutler – Cutler was my highest rated Bear from Sunday. He only forced two passes and was above average on six different plays and exceptional on two others. Even his interception wasn’t his fault as left tackle Jermon Bushrod allowed his guy to get a hand on Cutler’s shoulder as he threw the football. The laser he threw down the right sideline to Brandon Marshall on the game winning drive was a rare-level play. And on the 19-yard game-winning touchdown to Marshall, Cutler went through three progressions and got rid of the football in less than three seconds.

DT Stephen Paea – This may be surprising because the defensive line as a whole underwhelmed, but nose tackle Stephen Paea was my second-highest rated player. He didn’t get much help around him, but he consistently got a push and help create Shea McClellin’s sack. It’s a little concerning Henry Melton didn’t do more with Paea playing so well next to him.

RT Jordan Mills – The fifth-round draft pick was the best player on the Bears’ offensive line Sunday. I only had him down for one missed block and he sealed Cutler’s strong side all day, giving the quarterback time to go through his progressions.

LB Lance Briggs – The veteran had a couple surprising missed tackles, but he also showed why he’s a rare player with a number of exceptional plays. On the Bengals’ ugly drive right before halftime, Briggs made all three stops, doing his part to create the 58-yard field goal for the Bears that ended up being the difference on the scoreboard.

LB James Anderson – The newcomer made three positive plays and had no obvious mistakes. His third-down knockdown of Andy Dalton’s pass on the Bengals’ last drive of the game was a big play.

Negative Grades

TE Martellus Bennett – Despite catching his first touchdown as a Bear, Bennett had a negative game overall, with two holding penalties and a dropped pass. He was also poor as a run blocker, which is uncharacteristic of him.

LB D.J. Williams – Williams didn’t make any huge mistakes, which was probably why the Bears went with him over rookie Jon Bostic in the middle, but overall, it wasn’t a great debut for Williams. He got caught a little too deep on his dropbacks a few times and struggled to get off run blocks at times, including on BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ third quarter touchdown run.

LT Jermon Bushrod – The Bears’ new left tackle actually graded out as the team’s worst offensive lineman Sunday, although it should be noted that the line played pretty well in pass protection. Bushrod was pushed backwards in the run game at times and he was at fault for Cutler’s interception, as pointed out earlier.

RB Matt Forte – The putrid 2.6 yards per carry average on 19 attempts wasn’t all his fault as the offensive line didn’t open many holes, but he also dropped a pass, which hurt his overall grade. He still contributed 41 receiving yards on four catches, which was a positive.

RG Kyle Long – The first-round draft pick actually had a negative game overall, although just barely. He got beat a couple times and didn’t get much of a push the eight times the Bears ran behind him, but he was helped by positive games from Mills and Roberto Garza. It should also be pointed out that he faced Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins a lot and overall, Atkins had a quiet game.

Other Observations

- You might be surprised that Charles Tillman didn’t grade out negatively after the big day A.J. Green had. Two of Green’s big plays were just rare plays made by an elite wide receiver and Tillman made up for his few mistakes (including the pass interference) with two interceptions and one TFL at the goal line. That was enough to even him out on the day.

- The Bears were in shotgun on 31 of 62 offensive plays, exactly 50 percent.

- Earl Bennett only saw 19 reps. It will be interesting to see what his role will be going forward.

- The Bears threw the ball on nine of their first 10 third downs, including on a 3rd-and-2 and a 3rd-and-3.

- Cutler only had one designed rollout.

- The Bears lined up Brandon Marshall in the backfield once and put Alshon Jeffery in motion on a fake end-around. Both players ended up catching the ball on their respective plays, but Marshall was dropped for a loss of four yards, while Jeffery gained 12.

- The Bears only had three offensive penalties (none of which were before the snap) and they managed to gain a first down after all three of them.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.