Chargers – 14
Bears – 3
Bears 0-1 (season) 0-1 (road)
What a let down. Watching this game was like getting repeatedly punched in the stomach by a very wimpy person for 3 hours. At first it was no big deal, but goddamn it got really fucking annoying after a while. It was incredibly disappointing because the Bears really could/should have won it. The Bears defense was excellent in the first half, holding the high octane Chargers offense to 0 points. Ladainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates were absolutely shut down and Philip Rivers looked like how everyone seems to expect Rex Grossman to look – befuddled and confused. By the time that LT and Rivers got their groove on, Rex and the gang should have had at least a 10 point lead…14 would have been realistic, though.
Rex didn’t play terribly. He did not have a great game, but he made a lot of quality throws. He has proven conclusively that he can zip that ball in through coverage on the intermediate routes. He can throw to the spot with precision and their mid-range passing game was solid. He had a few bad throws, 1 interception and 1 fumble, which thankfully bounced into the hands of Adrian Peterson. Total line on Grossman was 12/23, 145 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT. Rating works out to around 53…but passer rating can be deceiving. The reason the Bears lost this game is because they could not establish the run whatsoever…not because of Rex.
Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson combined for a meager 80 yards on 26 carries with a fumble a piece. Both fumbles were costly, and 2 of the 4 total Bears turnovers were convertef into points by San Diego. Grossman’s interception came on a 20+ yard pass to Berrian, who just gave up on the route at the Chargers goal line. The Chargers DB picked it off in the end zone and got knocked out at their own 4 yard line. It put a quick end to the Bears best drive and scoring chance of the day. Peterson’s fumble came early in the 4th quarter and gave the Chargers the ball back in Bears territory, just as they were starting to put together a nice little drive that could have put the Bears in the lead. Instead, the Chargers took advantage of it and LT scored on a 7 yard TD run. Early on in the 3rd quarter, a duffed Neil Scifers punt took an awkward bounce off of the back of special teams ace Brandon McGowan and was recovered by San Diego. That turnover lead to the first Chargers points of the game, a touchdown pass thrown by LT late in the 3rd quarter.
Then there is Cedric Benson. Benson put up 42 yards on 19 carries. That averages out to about 2.2 yards per carry. His fumble was one of the two Bears turnovers that did not result in Chargers points, but it was a soft fumble on a day full of soft running. For a first round pick who is making a lot of money and who did a lot of griping when he was not handed the starting job, he certainly has not taken the bull by the horns when given the opportunities. I would like to strike preemptively, though, at all the people who are going to view Benson’s performance as somehow linked to the performance of Thomas Jones.
If Cedric Benson sucks to high heaven, it does not retroactively make Thomas Jones any better.
Thomas Jones, who is a solid football player, is not a starting running back. He did a very nice job in Chicago, but he just does not have the physical abilities that Cedric Benson does. Benson is faster, quicker and stronger than Jones. Whether or not Benson ever gets his head out of his ass and a heart in his chest remains to be seen, but trading Thomas Jones so you could play your younger, sprier and (theoretically) more eager top-5 draft pick was the right decision. The idea is to find out the result, good or bad, as soon as possible. There is no reason to have Benson play second fiddle to an aging veteran with declining skills.
With that decision comes great responsibility and high expectations for Benson, though. He needs to step the fuck up and be a stud, because with career backup Adrian Peterson and extremely undersized rookie Garret Wolfe waiting in the wings, things will not work out well for this offense if Benson cannot average at least 4 yards a carry and 25 carries a game. Plain and simple. It won’t help Grossman out a damn bit if Benson does not come into his own as well. Without a consistent running game Rex will be forced to throw more which will only further complicate the evaluation process in his contract year.
Other notes on the game: Tommie Harris is fine. Any questions about his hamstring injury were answered early in the 3rd quarter when he jumped a snap count (he was offsides, really) and broke up the snap on the Bears 1 yard line. Rivers never even got the ball and the Bears recovered, preventing an easy score for the Chargers. No way he could have gotten in as quick as he did if he were favoring one leg over the other. He is as explosive as ever.
As I mentioned earlier, Grossman made some good throws. He got over some early jitters that involved some of his textbook overthrows and he started rifling that puppy into some tight spots. Berrian had a few nice catches over the middle. Hester was a non-factor in the offense and the return game. Greg Olsen did not suit up after tweaking his knee in the last preseason game.
Mike Brown got hurt. He may be done forever as a Bear. I like Mike Brown a lot, but he can be added to the list of completely unreliable and injury prone Chicago athletes, nabbing the 3rd spot behind Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Hate to see him go but they have to stop depending on him. Piss poor luck. I’m watching post game interviews and it looks grim. Based on the reaction of his teammates and his own tears, I’d say it’s over for him.
I want to give him a big fuckin’ hug.
The more I think about this game the madder I get. I expected them to lose, but that is because I did not expect them to have such a good chance to win. They did better than keep pace with the Bolts in the first half…they held them down as best as any team could, and the best the Bears could muster was one Robbie Gould 27 yard field goal.
Bears were the only NFC North team to lose today lol.