Chicago Bears: Five things we learned
CHICAGO -- Here's a look at the lessons we learned from the Bears' 19-14 victory over the Lions on Sunday.
1. Brian Urlacher is not over the hill: Urlacher was all over the field Sunday, initially credited with 8 tackles, 1 sack and 3 tackles for a loss -- numbers that may increase after the coaches grade the film. Watching Urlacher play at such a high level bodes very well for the rest of the season, if the six-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker can stay healthy. Not only was Urlacher the most dominant defensive performer on the field in Week 1, he was also the most enthusiastic. It's hard to remember the veteran ever being as demonstrative in the past, but Urlacher appeared to be having the time of his life. Don't get me wrong, Lance Briggs also stood out at the linebacker spot (10 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery), but Sunday was all about Urlacher.
2. The offensive line needs work: Jay Cutler spent the bulk of the afternoon running for his life -- he was sacked 4 times and hit 7 others. The strength of Detroit's defense is its line, and the Lions' front four won the majority of its matchups against the Bears' blockers. The Bears didn't fare much better opening up space for Matt Forte and Chester Taylor, as the two backs only averaged roughly three yards per carry. The Bears are going to face better teams than the Lions, and if the offensive line doesn't fix some of its issues, there is no way the Bears will be able to score enough points to beat the elite teams in the NFL.
3. Matt Forte's preseason wasn't a mirage: We all saw Forte's burst in the preseason, but now that he displayed his speed in the regular season, there is little question last year's problems can, for the most part, be chalked up to injuries. Forte's receiving numbers versus Detroit were enough to make Larry Fitzgerald jealous -- 7 catches, 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Many people believed Forte and offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be a good match based on Martz's tendency to throw the ball to his runners out of the backfield. That theory turned out to be accurate, because both Forte and Chester Taylor look perfectly suited the play this style of offense.
4. Even a veteran coaching staff can make mistakes: Very few, if any, coaches will ever publically admit to making a mistake when it comes to a decision or a call. The Bears made two noteable gaffes Sunday, but luckily were able to win the game. Lovie Smith's decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 1-yard line in the final quarter was questionable. Considering the Lions' inability to move the ball on offense in the second half behind backup quarterback Shaun Hill, a field goal may have been the final nail in the coffin. Instead, the fourth consecutive failed attempt from the 1-yard line gave Detroit some life, but more importantly, it still gave them a one-point lead with about nine minutes left on the clock. The second odd decision was to put the defense in a Cover 3 on the controversial play to Calvin Johnson. Almost everybody in the stadium knew the Lions were going to throw a jump ball to Johnson, so that Cover 3 call put cornerback Zack Bowman in a bad spot with no help over the top. After the controversial no-touchdown ruling by the officials, the Bears went back to playing Cover-2 on the games final two plays, and easily defended the next two throws to Johnson to seal the victory.
5. Devin Aromashodu is the No. 1 target at wide receiver: It shouldn't come as a surprise that Aromashodu had a team-high 10 passes thrown his way. Clearly, Cutler trusts Aromashodu, and for the most part, the receiver held up his end of the bargain with 5 catches for 71 yards. Expect Aromashodu and Johnny Knox to continue receiving the bulk of the attention from Cutler, even though Devin Hester is still labeled the No. 1 wide receiver. No disrespect to Hester, but how many true No. 1 wideouts have only one pass thrown their way in the first game of the regular season? The answer is easy: none.