Report Card: Much to like in Week 1 rout
Week 1 Report Card: Chicago Bears 41, Indianapolis Colts 21
By the halfway point of the third quarter, Matt Forte and Michael Bush had combined for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Those kinds of numbers almost guarantee victory for teams. What's more is that Forte averaged 10.6 yards per attempt in a blistering opening quarter, and accounted for 47 during the club's first scoring drive, which interestingly was capped by Bush. By regularly shuffling in the running backs, the Bears keep defenses off balance because the players' running styles are so different.
Ugly start for the Bears with quarterback Jay Cutler forcing throws to Brandon Marshall and throwing an interception early that was returned for a touchdown by Jerrell Freeman. Still it didn't take long for Cutler to find a rhythm once the club got the running game popping and the offensive line settled in. Cutler shows a tendency to try to force too many balls to Marshall, which is something defenses will quickly begin to lock on and take advantage of. Rookie Alshon Jeffery showed plenty of promise, especially with his 42-yard touchdown catch. But the Bears can't afford for Cutler to get off to another slow start Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.
Indianapolis became a one-dimensional team quickly because the Bears stuffed the rushing attack early, forcing the Colts to go to the aerial attack. Donald Brown did manage to reel off an 18-yard run, which is why the Bears receive an A- instead of an A here. Through the first three quarters, the Colts gained just four of their first downs with the ground game. By stuffing the run game, the Bears forced a lopsided time of possession that basically kept the Indianapolis offense off the field.
It's difficult to gauge this category, in part, because the Bears faced a rookie quarterback in Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, who flashed signs, but clearly was overwhelmed by a veteran Bears defense that hit him repeatedly. Tim Jennings had two interceptions and tipped another pass in the end zone that was picked off by safety Chris Conte and Major Wright played a relatively mistake-free game. The only concern about the secondary moving forward is the health of Charles Tillman, who suffered a leg injury and left the game. It's encouraging however, that Tillman's backup is veteran Kelvin Hayden. It's also a tad alarming that Reggie Wayne broke the century mark in receiving yards.
J.T. Thomas forced a fumble by Colts return man LaVonn Brazill that was recovered by Kelvin Hayden. The turnover led to a Robbie Gould field goal. Devin Hester gained 23 yards on the only punt he returned, and he averaged 24.5 yards on his first two returns. So although the Bears didn't reel off any explosive returns, the club was fairly efficient in that department. The Bears receive an A in this category for forcing the turnover that led to points.
The Bears entered the opener with a solid game plan on offense, and there's not much the staff can do about Cutler's decision making on some of the throws he attempted. Surely offensive coordinator Mike Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates will work with Cutler going into the matchup Thursday with the Packers. Defensively, the Bears probably surprised the Colts with some of the man-coverage schemes they ran, which played a role in the front seven getting to Luck on several occasions. The Bears show much more diversity on both sides of the ball than they have in the recent pass. We see that trend continuing.