Bears-Colts: Five Things We Learned

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
7:56
PM ET
CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned in the Chicago Bears' 41-21 Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts:

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
David Banks/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall had a team-high nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in his Bears debut.
1. Second-class citizens no more on offense: It's not as if the Bears' defense played poorly in the regular season opener, but the story centered around the offense. Sure, taking the ball away five times (one by special teams) is wonderful, but we're used to seeing that here in Chicago. The new phenomenon is having an offense that can win games when the defense scuffles. After all these years, the Bears finally have that sort of firepower with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Matt Forte and Michael Bush. No longer does the defense have to play near perfect football for the Bears to be victorious. Get used to scores like 41-21 or 35-28 because gone are the days when the Bears had to win games 10-6 or 13-3, back when the defense was dominant and the core was younger. Don't get me wrong; I'm a fan of good defense just as much as the next guy, but does it really matter how much the opponent scores if the Bears keep finding ways to get in the end zone? We all know the answer to that.

2. Lovie Smith made the right call with Urlacher: Smith didn't last nine years as Bears head coach and win 75 career games by simply falling out of bed. Smith knows what he is doing, and his decision to take Brian Urlacher out early in the third quarter smacked of a smart coach who sees the big picture. Urlacher was just OK on Sunday, but he finished the game. That's all that matters. He is going to get better every single week as he sees more live game action. There was no point keeping him out there and exposing him to another knee injury with the Bears up 34-14 and the game in hand. Besides, you know Urlacher is going to have the play the whole game on Thursday night versus the high-powered Green Bay Packers, so why burn him out when the team has to make a quick turnaround? Smith played this perfectly.

3. Jeffery is the No. 2: We didn't exactly know how the Bears planned to use Jeffery heading into the regular season after the rookie second-round pick turned in a solid preseason. But there is no misunderstanding now; Jeffery is the No. 2 outside receiver opposite Brandon Marshall, and for good reason. The Bears are at their best with the taller Jeffery and Marshall lining up on the outside and Bennett working inside out of the slot. Remember when it used to take Bears receivers three years to develop coming out of college? Not Jeffery, who had an impressive three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. This guy is a playmaker and should go down as one of the steals of the 2012 draft. Cutler won't be able to target Marshall 15 times every game, and on those days when Marshall isn't open, Jeffery provides a terrific second or third option. Devin Hester still has a role in this offense, but Jeffery on the field for the majority of the snaps takes the group to another level.

4. Jennings’ stock is way up: Last season, Tim Jennings had a tough time catching the football. But not this year. Jennings was all over the place on Sunday; intercepting two Andrew Luck passes and deflecting another into the hands of free safety Chris Conte. Not bad for a guy who lost his starting job for a brief moment at the end of 2011. Ever since Jennings re-signed with the squad in free agency he has been a rock star. The 5-foot-8 cornerback had arguably the best offseason program and preseason of any Bears defender, and his great start to the regular season made some people forget that Charles Tillman had to leave the game early with a leg injury.

5. The Colts are in good hands: This was a tough way for Luck to start his NFL career, but the No. 1 overall selection in the draft did not embarrass himself as he threw for 309 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. It's obvious Luck has a big arm and can make all the throws, and eventually, the Colts will begin to win games. Rebuilding is tough, but it's made easier when a team has a future franchise quarterback. Luck appears to fit that bill. Give Indianapolis two years and they'll be contenders to make the playoffs in the AFC. Hopefully Reggie Wayne can keep playing that long because he was dynamite in the losing effort. It was a toss up as to who was the best receiver on the field Sunday: Marshall (nine catches, 119 yards, one touchdown) or Wayne (nine catches, 135 yards).

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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