Not all gloom and doom

The Bears' defense played better than expected against the Packers

September 14, 2009, 11:37 AM

By: Jeff Dickerson

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- It took me a few moments to remember where I was when the alarm went off this morning. I hate when that happens. Especially when it turns out you're still in the Green Bay area.

Before I hit the road, here are few items that stood out Sunday night:

•Outside of Greg Jennings beating Nathan Vasher to win the game (somewhat of a big play), the defense performed much better than expected. Adewale Ogunleye (2 sacks) should ask if he could face right tackle Allen Barbre every week. Ogunleye was all over the field, also recording three tackles for a loss and recording five quarterback hurries. Alex Brown was nearly as active on the other side, and Mark Anderson put together a nice evening. Excellent start for Rod Marinelli's group, let's hope that continues as the season progresses.

•Speaking of Vasher, is it time for Lovie Smith to pull the plug? Zack Bowman didn't exactly stand out during his limited reps, but if the coaching staff was iffy about Vasher heading into this game. What did the veteran do to possibly change their minds? The Bears are playing with fire if they put Vasher out there against Hines Ward or Santonio Holmes in Week 2. Bowman might be a better option.

Danieal Manning (who appeared extremely sore after the game) looked ultra-confident against the Packers. The closing speed he displayed on that safety was out of this world. Does Smith look to expand Manning's role versus the Steelers? Kevin Payne didn't play poorly at free safety, but Manning's performance left me wanting more.

•I'm stunned by the special teams breakdowns. Dave Toub runs one of the finest units in the league, so it was a shock to see Patrick Mannelly mistakenly think there were 12 men on the field. I bet Mannelly could play another 12 years and that would never happen again. I also didn't care for Jordy Nelson averaging 31 yards per kickoff return. Expect to see the special teams clean up their act against Pittsburgh.

Charles Tillman proved me wrong. I wasn't sure if he could hold up after only four practices -- he did, and then some. Tillman threw his body around with reckless abandon, and was initially credited with two tackles and one TFL. Tillman's toughness has never been in question, and he proved again why he's so valuable to the secondary. Donald Driver only caught 4 passes for 39 yards; a testament to Tillman's resiliency.

Matt Forte averaged 2.2 yards per carry? There wasn't a lot of room to run, and Jay Cutler was seen running for his life, so I wouldn't call it a great debut for the Bears offensive line. We could see a repeat performance by the offense this Sunday if the line doesn't get it together.

•One of the few bright spots from the offense: Earl Bennett can play. I think the second-year receiver answered any questions about his viability as a starting receiving. Even though Bennett failed to compile huge yardage (7 receptions, 66 yards), he caught almost everything thrown his way.

Join David Haugh and me tonight from 6-9 on Chicago's Monday Night Countdown on ESPN 1000.


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