Noots' Notes

The Bears showed well in their first preseason contest Monday night in the Hall of Fame Game. Ricky Williams' return to the Dolphins was the opening story line, but Ron Turner's return as Offensive Coordinator stole the show.

The Good

Turner's offense cranked out 27 points (without the defense scoring any to add to the total) and 478 yards. Most noticeable was the quick tempo of the passing game. The tempo was fast enough to keep all three quarterbacks free from sacks through 41 attempts. This in no way is meant to diminish the fine play of the offensive line, which did a very good job in all phases of the game. Thomas Jones had ten carries for 47 yards and a touchdown even though two good runs were called back on penalties. Muhsin Muhammad hauled in a perfectly thrown 34-yard pass over his shoulder from Rex Grossman (5-12-77) to the goal line. Muhammad made a great move to get open. Bernard Berrian had three catches for 65 yards. Fullback Marc Edwards (3-21) caught a couple of passes in the flat and was a bull to tackle.

The Bears' pass rush was in full force through most of the first half. Brian Urlacher put a big hit on A.J. Feeley for a sack. He also ripped out what looked like a sure reception from Lee. Adewale Ogunleye added a sack of his own. Showing a good adjustment to the move to strong safety, Mike Brown made some big hits against the run near the line of scrimmage. Alfonso Boone clogged the inside running lanes early in the game. Rookie Rashied Davis (8 tackles) proved to be a sure tackler, and made some big hits on mammoth wide receiver David Boston. Gabe Lindstrom did all of the punting and put two of his five kicks inside the 20-yard line.

Kyle Orton (7-11-175, 1 TD, 1 Int) played very well with the third stringers and bounced back from an interception to hit Carl Ford (3-56, TD) on a 43-yard touchdown bomb. He had some good chemistry going with Mark Bradley. The backup offensive linemen all played well, especially tackles Marc Colombo and Rob Droege. Adrian Peterson (6/21) didn't have huge rushing yardage but was again a demon on special teams. He did very well picking up his pass blocking assignments. Rookie Mark Bradley shook off a drop and finished the game strong, with five receptions for 131 yards. He showed great acceleration after catching a short pass to turn up the field.

The Bad

Chad Hutchinson (10-18-124) moved the offense well. He's still struggling to get rid of the ball quickly and find his receivers but is showing improvement. He had some nice connections with Berrian, but also threw behind Gage on a slant. This route is a main staple of the offense, and should be perfect on every attempt. Orton threw behind Gabe Reid over the middle for an interception that went for a touchdown. Although kicker Doug Brien made his only field goal attempt, his kickoffs were very short. Nathan Vasher, Bobby Wade, Mark Bradley and Bernard Berrian did not impress returning punts and kicks.

Lance Briggs followed up Urlacher's sack with a big miss on Gus Frerotte, blowing an opportunity for both a sack and a safety. Rookie Jerrell Pippens struggled in coverage at times, and also was run over on a few tackles. He also was flagged for interference. He rebounded with an interception in the end zone late in the game. Cornerback Nathan Vasher came free on a blitz to knock down the quarterback. However, Vasher fell down on a hitch that could have gone for a huge gain, and was whistled for pass interference.

The Ugly

The Bears were penalized 11 times. This number has to decrease as the season draws near. Olin Kreutz and Dustin Lyman erased solid gains for Thomas Jones with the first team. Speaking of Lyman, the tight end play overall was atrocious. They accounted for three dropped passes and four penalties. Lyman, John Gilmore, and Ron Johnson each had a drop, while Johnson was flagged twice for pushing off and Lyman added another holding penalty on special teams. Bernard Berrian dropped a slant on third down that could have gone for big yardage. Justin Gage disappeared. He put up a zero for the day.

Safety Bobby Gray let Bryan Gilmore get behind him for a 26-yard touchdown pass. He also was penalized for illegal hands to the face. Defensive end Michael Haynes lined up with the second stringers and played like a third stringer. He didn't show anything against the run or pass. Center Olin Kreutz was flagged for holding. Hopefully this isn't a continuing trend from last season, when he was flagged numerous times for everything from holding to false starts.

Next Up
The Bears have an especially short week. They will travel to St. Louis to play the Rams on Friday night. It will be interesting to see how the Bears practice leading up to the game, and how they mete out playing time on such short notice.

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