Big guns come out firing

Cutler, Forte star in what Bears hope is glimpse of future

August 23, 2009, 12:04 AM

By: Jeff Dickerson

Keeping in mind this is still the preseason, there were several individuals who deserve recognition after Saturday night's victory over the Giants.

Matt Forte and Jay Cutler

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jay Cutler handing to Matt Forte … something the Bears and their fans look forward to for many years.

The two obvious ones? Jay Cutler and Matt Forte.

Cutler led the Bears on three scoring drives, and posted a passer rating of 117.8.

"We're coming together as an offense," said Cutler. "We're not quite there yet; we still have some work to do. I thought the offensive line did a great job, the receivers did a great job, but once again it's preseason."

The passing game featured some big plays to Earl Bennett, Greg Olsen, Devin Aromashodu and Brandon Rideau. Bennett and Aromashodu especially stood out, as those two and Olsen appear to be Cutler's top targets. Devin Hester saw four passes come his way, catching two, but for only 14 combined yards. Cutler overthrew a wide open Hester deep down the field, but without the benefit of meticulously rewinding the play on film, it appeared Hester somewhat misjudged the ball in the air. Regardless, the New York game reinforced the notion that Cutler and Hester still have some work to do.

As my colleague Tom Waddle likes to say, I'm a few credits shy of my medical degree, but Forte's hamstring appears to be fine. He carried the ball nine times, and wasn't even touched on his 32-yard touchdown.

"The offensive line did a great job creating that running lane, so you know I stretched it," said Forte. "I saw the safety come down, just made one cut and took it up the field."

The touchdown looked easy, but Forte's run a few plays earlier was out of this world. He literally slid outside to avoid the defenders. Seriously, it was like watching former Houston Oilers receiver Ernest Givens perform the "electric slide", but Forte was doing it for real.

"We needed to establish the run," said Desmond Clark. "That's going to be big going into the season just knowing we can run the ball."

On the flip side: the Bears defense did everything well but stop the run.

The numbers looked good -- 5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss and 7 quarterback hits. My only issue was that Giants running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw pounded out tough yards on the ground.

"He's [Jacobs] a big player, and he's difficult to tackle," said Pisa Tinoisamoa. "That's why we get everyone to the ball, so we can make sure he goes down."

But my complaints were few and far between, especially since we got to see Tommie Harris line up for the first time this preseason -- although he didn't do much.

"When we talk about the line, Tommie is one of the anchors," said head coach Lovie Smith. "It was good to get him his first bit of action. Tommie has been working hard. We kept him out last week, but it was good to see him get a few plays. I think he was able to get 15 plays, which is what we wanted to get him."

Other news and notes:

  • Jamar Williams (ankle), Dusty Dvoracek (knee) and Marcus Hamilton (neck) left the game early with injuries.

  • Kevin Malast continues to perform well in the preseason. The rookie linebacker was credited with 5 tackles.

  • Is there a conspiracy against Caleb Hanie? Replays seemed to indicate Kevin Shaffer did not commit a holding penalty on Hanie's second quarter touchdown run. Oh well, the Bears backup quarterback still put together another solid night, completing 10 of 18 passes for 120 yards.

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