The final scorecard shows an ugly affair. The Chicago Bears tonight were steamrolled at home by the visiting Denver Broncos 31-3. The preseason opener doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things but this is a proud organization that doesn't take 28-point losses lightly, no matter the scenario. As such, expect a long, hard week of practice for Chicago's players this week.
Yet despite the ugly final score, there were a number of positives to take away from this contest. Here is what I saw from my press box vantage point during tonight's game.
-The offensive line was downright awful from top to bottom. The first team allowed two sacks in the first half and struggled to build any momentum. LG Chris Spencer was driven five yards into the backfield on two separate occasions, while LT J'Marcus Webb again could not handle the speed rush.
The first team front five played the entire first half. They were replaced in the second half by the backups, everyone but Webb that is. Webb ended up playing well into the fourth quarter. It's unclear if coordinator Mike Tice just wanted to give Webb more reps or whether he was trying to send a message to his underachieving tackle. Either way, Webb did appear to improve as the game wore on.
-QB Jason Campbell was as bad as I thought he would be. He continuously deferred to the check down pass and refused to throw the ball downfield. On one play, he telegraphed an underneath route that nearly got RB Kahlil Bell's head taken off.
Additionally, Campbell hangs onto the ball too long. When his first read isn't open, he appears to panic. At this point, I would be very worried if he was forced to start anytime soon.
-RB Michael Bush, on only his third carry as a member of the Bears, fumbled a pitch toss. The turnover resulted in a Denver field goal. It was a poor start for a player the Bears are counting on to help carry the backfield load this year.
-Rookie DE Shea McClellin is borderline worthless against the run. Time after time, he gets locked up and completely driven out of the play. His inexperience at defensive end, combined with his lack of ideal size and strength, severely hurts him when trying to set the edge. On ine goal line play, McClellin was pancaked hard onto his back by Denver's offensive tackle. He appears to be just what I thought he would be: a one-dimensional player.
-DT John McCargo got pushed around tonight. At defensive tackle, he could not hold up at the point of attack and was easily moved once he lost leverage. Overall, the defensive line played fairly well, yet McCargo really struggled.
-It was clear tonight why Blake Costanzo has never started a game at linebacker. He just does not appear to understand how to play the position. He overran run plays, bit on play action and looked lost in coverage. He's a quality special teams player but if he's ever called into action at linebacker, things could get ugly.
-Rookie CB Greg McCoy did not show well in man-to-man coverage. He did not demonsrate good instincts and allowed opposing receivers to create separation consistently. He was a good return man in college and it appears that may be his only shot at making the Bears' 53-man roster this year.
-Due to Webb playing almost the entire game, James Brown saw limited reps at left tackle. When he finally did get in the game, he gave up a sack on an inside spin move. Brown has looked good in training camp but showed in this game why he was an undrafted rookie this year.
-Rookie S Brandon Hardin made a nice play on a deep ball and nearly picked up an interception, but he struggled as a tackler. He was not aggressive and appeared hesitant to stick his nose and make a hit. He's built like a brick wall, so it was disappointing to see him play so soft.
-McClellin struggled against the run but he was outstanding as a pass rusher. He picked up a sack during his first series, working his way out of an inside stunt and chasing down opposing quarterback Caleb Hanie – who was booed by Chicago's fans when he took his first snaps.
McClellin continued to get into the backfield throughout the contest, nearly picking up a second sack in the fourth quarter. To see him use his quickness and be successful his first time out is a great sign for the rookie going forward.
-Second-round wideout Alshon Jeffery was also impressive. He led the team in catches (4) and receiving yards (35). He dominated the Broncos' second team with his size and being physical when the ball was in the air. So far, he looks like he's the real deal.
-DE Corey Wootton got the start in place of Julius Peppers, who was a healthy scratch. Wootton looked as if he was shot out of a cannon on nearly every down, showing great balance, quickness and agility. If he stays healthy this year, he'll have a breakout campaign.
-Also off the edge, DE Cheta Ozougwa had a great night. He picked up a second-quarter sack and got good pressure on most of his passing downs.
-DT Nate Collins has taken the lead in the battle for Chicago's fourth defensive tackle position. He was an absolute beast tonight, getting penetration against the pass and being stout against the run. He definitely has the potential to be a big-time producer in 2012.
-Speaking of defensive tackles, Brian Price also had a strong outing. He showed much more explosiveness in live action than he has in practice. If he can build on this performance going forward, he's got a good chance at a roster spot.
-Rookie CB Isaiah Frey, who has steadily improved each practice, carried that over onto the game field tonight. He had a couple of nice pass breakups and looked very good as a tackler as well. I thought he was more impressive than both Jonathan Wilhite and Kelvin Hayden, the two players with whom he's fighting for the final cornerback gig.
-Late in the game, WR Chris Summers made the best catch of the night. Down the left sideline, QB Matt Blanchard threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass. Summers turned, adjusted to the pass and leaped up, high pointing the ball and pulling it in for the reception. It was an impressive, athletic play that surely bumped him up in the eyes of the coaches.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.