Noots' Notes

The Bears treated their fans to a 38-6 drubbing of the Detroit Lions in the Soldier Field home opener. The Bears started quickly, putting up 31 first half points. The defense was the catalyst, forcing five Joey Harrington interceptions. The Bears' offense was led by a big effort from the line, protecting Kyle Orton and opening big holes for Thomas Jones.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Kyle Orton (14-21-150, Td, 2-19) had a strong game. He was much more willing to take what the defense gave him than in last week's contest, especially on some short passes to Muhsin Muhammad and Marc Edwards. He again showed good poise in the pocket, and his confidence in his protection was well founded. Orton threw a perfect 28-yard touchdown strike to Muhammad up the right sideline. Timing or tempo is very important in Ron Turner's offense. Orton looked much more in synch with his receivers from that perspective. With less than a month of first team reps under his belt, Bear fans can expect to see even more improvement. He did not have a turnover. Through his first two games, Orton has completed 59 percent of his passes for a touchdown and an interception, and is averaging just below six yards per attempt. Those are good numbers for a rookie. Jeff Blake saw some mop up action and completed his only pass for a third down conversion to Desmond Clark. The Bears converted 8 of 15 third down attempts. GRADE: A-

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (20/139, 2 Td) was a difference-maker on offense. His decisive cutting resulted in several big gains. Additionally, he hit the hole with authority when it was there, especially when the play was designed to stretch the defense outside. Jones hasn't always extended the field when he has had that option at the point of attack. In this game, he found some big gains around left end as well as up the middle. On one of his touchdown runs, he made several stops and starts, and still showed enough acceleration to outrun a defensive back to the goal line. Jones also provided Orton with a good target via screen passes for solid yardage. Cedric Benson (16/49) saw significant action both early and late in the game. He ran over and through several Lions defenders over left tackle in the early going. Benson also showed great burst when he found an opening on a third and long that he took for a big gain. He lost some yardage at the end of the game when there was little doubt anyone else was going to get the ball. Marc Edwards (2-10) had a good game blocking, and also had a couple of catches to keep the offense moving. GRADE: A

Receivers

Muhsin Muhammad (6-81, Td) held on to a well-thrown Kyle Orton dart from 28 yards out. He took two big hits as he caught the ball. Muhammad caught just about everything thrown his way, and was a challenge to bring down. Justin Gage (1-21) leapt high in the air to pull down a lob along the left sideline from Orton on a third down and short situation. Mark Bradley (1-9) had a good grab over the middle. Desmond Clark (2-19) picked up a few yards after the catch to get a first down late in the contest. Bernard Berrian, Gabe Reid and John Gilmore played but were not factors. Muhammad and Clark had opportunities for catches that they couldn't come down with. GRADE: B+

Offensive Line

The Bears' offensive line bounced back from an abysmal week one performance to dominate against one of the NFL's better defensive lines. Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson were not factors in the middle. Left guard Ruben Brown showed glimpses of his Pro Bowl form. He pulled to make the trap blocks that keyed two of Thomas Jones' big gains up the middle. Other than a false start, right guard Terrence Metcalf got the best of his critical match-up with Rogers. Metcalf pulled left to lead the way for a third and inches conversion. John Tait allowed a sack, although the play took a long time to develop. To his credit, many of the big running plays were outside of his blocking. Fred Miller had a quiet game, which is an improvement from the previous week. Olin Kreutz and Kyle Orton had a communication issue on at least one play. It appeared Kreutz snapped the ball to Orton on a count earlier than the rest of the team expected. The result was a sack, since the defenders ran past the linemen who were still in their stances. Orton took a vicious hit on the play. Qasim Mitchell saw late action at right tackle. Overall, the Bears racked up 187 rushing yards and provided Kyle Orton with ample time to throw. GRADE: A-


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Ian Scott (2 tackles, Int, 3 PD) provided the initial spark that lit up a huge day, deflecting a Joey Harrington pass and then intercepting it. Scott added another pass deflection, a tackle for a loss, and a big stop for a short gain on a screen pass. He provided some pressure in passing situations and was a lynchpin in stopping Kevin Jones (8/22, 1-5) and the Lions' ground attack. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye had an early pressure. His ankle was rolled from behind on the play. The x-rays were negative, but the severity is not currently known. Alex Brown (1 tackle) had a pressure that contributed to a Brian Urlacher sack. He and tackle Tommie Harris (2 tackles) played well against the run but didn't have many plays of impact. Michael Haynes (3 tackles) played end for Ogunleye and although he didn't make any big plays, had good penetration on the pass rush and stopped the run well. Alfonso Boone saw action at both tackle and end. Tank Johnson saw action at tackle in most of the sub packages. Overall, the line provided just enough pressure to force Harrington into bad throws. Against the run, the tackling was very good. Screens and draws were diagnosed and reduced to minimal impact. GRADE: A-

Linebackers

Brian Urlacher (7 tackles, 2 sacks) caused numerous problems for Joey Harrington (19-37-196, TD, 5 Ints). Not only did he sack Harrington twice, but he also provided the knockdown pressure that led to one of Nathan Vasher's interceptions. Urlacher was very good in coverage, and his speed allowed him to track down Shawn Bryson for a short gain on a screen. Lance Briggs (7 tackles, Int, PD, TFL) turned in a few impact plays as well. He blew up an attempted fourth down and inches handoff from Harrington to Jones, tackling both of them at the same time. He also provided an interception. Hunter Hillenmeyer (PD) wasn't on the field quite as much, coming out for sub packages, and didn't factor in the contest. Detroit was held to 29 yards on 18 carries. Overall, the linebackers had a huge game, and were difference-makers. GRADE: A

Secondary

Joey Harrington is going to be having nightmares of Nathan Vasher (1 tackle, 2 Ints, 4 PD). Vasher had two interceptions. He also had two in the first game, although one was called back. He had an interception in the end zone on a pass that went over Roy Williams' (5-96, Td) head. Williams never jumped for the ball, leaving Vasher with an easy interception in spite of being behind him in the end zone. Vasher leapt up to pluck the ball out of the air as it went past him for his other interception. He also broke up two passes intended for Charles Rogers (3-31). Charles Tillman (7 tackles, 2 PD) struggled through most of the game. He looked weak against Roy Williams on the first series, and the Lions took note. Roy Williams later beat him for a 51-yard touchdown on Detroit's first play after the Bears scored their first touchdown. Tillman was also whistled for illegal contact to give up a conversion on a third and twenty pass that would have come up far short of the sticks. Jerry Azumah (3 tackles, PD) played quite a bit in sub packages. He applied pressure via the blitz and also stepped in front of a Harrington laser for a near interception.

Mike Brown (4 tackles, Int, 2 PD) played safety like a man possessed. He was everywhere, doing everything. Brown made big plays against both the run and pass. He picked off a Joey Harrington pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. He had at least four big hits, on Mike Williams, Joey Harrington, Marcus Pollard and Kevin Johnson (6-32). The hit on Pollard arrived at the same time as the ball but resulted in a penalty because there was helmet-to-helmet contact. Brown supplied blitz pressure to generate an incompletion, and was involved in a forced fumble on a play that could not be reviewed. Rookie Chris Harris (6 tackles) started and didn't have many issues. He had a knockdown pressure that resulted in Brown's interception and a tackle for a loss. He needs to ensure he wraps up on his tackles. In spite of a few miscues by Tillman, the overall play was good. When you add the turnovers and sprinkle on the blitz pressure, it was a huge day. GRADE: A+


SPECIAL TEAMS

Doug Brien was only one for three on his field goals, connecting from 48 yards (he missed from 48 and 36). He had good distance on his kickoffs, consistently driving the ball to about the 5-yard line. He also had a touchback. Punter Brad Maynard thankfully didn't have too many opportunities but had a solid game. Bobby Wade was given punt return duties after not being active in the first game. He provided a major highlight, breaking free for a 73-yard touchdown up the left sideline. Mike Green and Charles Tillman provided key blocks on the runback. Todd Johnson made several key blocks in the game. Jerry Azumah resumed his role on kickoff returns. His two returns (for 67 yards) put the Bears in excellent field position. Alfonso Boone blocked a low extra point attempt by Remy Hamilton. Punt and kick coverage was shoddy. Carl Ford failed to break down on a punt return. Eddie Drummond was allowed to average 26.5 yards per on six kickoff returns. GRADE: B+


COACHING

The Bears looked well prepared for whatever Detroit was going to throw at them. The timing on offense looked much better, and the offensive line went from being a deficit in week one to a winning factor in this game. The screens and traps Ron Turner utilized were exactly what the line needed to keep Detroit's aggressive front four in check. Ron Rivera's defense put a strangle hold on Joey Harrington from every conceivable angle, forcing him to choke out five interceptions. Discipline was much better as well, with penalties held down to six. The win puts the Bears in first place by virtue of a tie with Detroit at 1-1. Next week's contest is against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offense is arguably the league's most improved. This will be a great challenge for the Bears' defense, which has allowed only one touchdown and 15 total points through two weeks. GRADE: A


GAME BALLS

Thomas Jones
Muhsin Muhammad
Ruben Brown
Ian Scott
Brian Urlacher
Lance Briggs
Nathan Vasher
Mike Brown
Bobby Wade

HORNS

Charles Tillman

HARDEST HITS

Mike Brown on Mike Williams
Mike Brown on Joey Harrington
Mike Brown on Marcus Pollard
Mike Brown on Kevin Johnson
Kenoy Kennedy on Fernando Bryant



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