Sitting in section 207 of Soldier Field’s United Club is certainly a vantage point I’ve never seen a game before. And afterward I think I need to get my eyes checked because what I saw as the Bears lost 37-30 to the San Francisco 49ers was almost inexplicable. Touchdown passes, big plays, consistent movement from the offense. All balanced by poor tackling, constant over pursuit, and general lethargy by the defense. It felt like I was in the freaking Twilight Zone.
One thing merely confirming that feeling was Kyle “Neckbeard” Orton looking like a real bona fide NFL QB. His first TD pass to Rashied Davis (for which Davis ran an outstanding route) was the kind of thing we haven’t seen much in Chicago. Orton finished the game 10/17 for 147 yds and two TDs behind a vastly improved pass blocking performance by our offensive line. He even had a third TD pass dropped. My potential shame of having my own neckbeard is diminishing by the day (now the only problem will be how it plays with the ladies). Toss in some solid runs from Matt Forte, an impressive debut by Kevin Jones, and even a Mark Bradley sighting and I dare say we may have ourselves an offense.
Unfortunately much of that glee was stolen from me by a pathetic performance by the Bears defense. I haven’t seen them look that bad since they were Urlacher-less in 2004. They were overmatched by misdirection, constantly over pursuing and being beat to the back side, and giving up in coverage as mobile QBs created extra time and beat lazy DBs. Seriously, we were getting lit up by J.T. O’Sullivan! I am going to let this slide because it’s the preseason, but it was hard to watch.
Finally we get to the guys fighting for roster spots. Marty Booker was a no-show and I gotta figure he’s not making the team. Garrett Wolfe fumbled a kickoff and was unimpressive outside of that. Without the ability to carry four RBs his days in Chicago are probably numbered. After making a brief reappearance Sunday, Ricky Manning Jr. was once again nowhere to be seen and we can all wave good-bye to him. Michael Okwo was likely saved by Rod Wilson’s broken forearm; he should send him a card. And finally Dan Bauzin continues to look unimpressive and with the versatility of Israel Idonije (get on the I-train) is probably out of a job.
There is one final spot I’d like to highlight and that was the play of Rex Grossman and Caleb Hanie. Rex looked like a defeated man as he completed only one pass and was constantly booed. He lacked any kind of focus or bounce in his step and it’s obvious he took the decision hard. Hanie on the other hand is pretty impressive close up. He’s obviously got a long way to go but he showed mobility, arm strength, and good presence as San Fran came after him pretty hard. I was joking at the end of that game that we should all live our lives by asking: What would Caleb Hanie do? (WWCHD?) And he answered at the end of the game by throwing a 51-yd Hail Mary TD to Brandon Rideau. But after watching both Rex and Caleb play I am wondering if WWCHD? next isn’t take Rex’s roster spot…