Bengals at Bears 2013: 3 up 3 down
This was the game the Bears couldn’t win, according to many experts. In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, six of the eight legitimate picks were for the Bengals, the only dissenters were Fred Mitchell and Dan Wiederer. I rarely give my opinion on Bears games, other than to say I always hope they win. But before the game I told many that I believed the Bears would win. I know that Cincinnati is a good team, and they certainly played like it on Sunday. But I just didn’t understand why so many gave the Bears so little a chance. Here are three positives and three concerns I took away from section 249 when I left the game Sunday:
- Jay Cutler was not sacked! I believe that according to Brad Biggs, this was only the sixth of 57 games Jay Cutler has played as a Bear in which he was not sacked a single time. It is fantastic to see this revamped offensive line finally give some protection to the most critical player on the team. I’m also thankful to finally see two young players on the right side of the line that should be building blocks for years to come. Especially since former GM Jerry Angelo neglected the line in the draft throughout his tenure.
- I was talking throughout the game with our neighbors, remembering how the Bears seemingly have always been a team unable to make halftime adjustments to finish strong. In fact, in Dave Wannstedt’s last season, the Bears were ahead at halftime in most if not all of the first five games when they started 0-5. But in each game they inevitably broke down after halftime. It was great to finally see the Bears come back after seemingly being on their heels in the third quarter.
- How good is Robbie Gould? I didn’t even realize until about a week ago that Gould set the Bears’ longest field goal record in 2011 with a 57-yard kick. Then on Sunday, he scores what turned out to be the winning points on a 58-yarder, which is a new team record. And that kick would have been good from another 7 yards out at least. There was some friction between Gould and the Bears over his lack of a new deal for 2014 and beyond. I understand that with so many players to pay after 2013, some rough decisions need to be made. But Gould certainly proved his worth against Cincinnati.
- There is concern over pressure generated by the defensive line. Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton did get rid of the ball very fast, but there should have been more pressure. It bears watching to see if the rush improves in the near future. Chicago’s defense gave up too many passing yards on Sunday, and this trend will continue if the pass rush does not improve.
- Is Julius Peppers hurt? Peppers lined up across from Cincinnati’s second-string left tackle and should have dominated the matchup. I will be hoping that Peppers will return to form and there isn’t a long term issue developing.
- Nothing against the Bears, but many of us are wondering if the NFL should just eliminate kickoffs and spot the ball at the 20 yard line. I don’t think Devin Hester had a chance to return a single kickoff as they were all kicked out of the end zone.
The Minnesota Vikings will provide another test for the Bears in week two. If Chicago can contain Adrian Peterson, there shouldn’t be much threat from Christian Ponder‘s arm. But will the experts agree?