What We Learned: Giants vs. Bears

If you're a fan of the Chicago Bears, then everything is right with the world today. After a 17-3 demolition of the Giants, Jay Cutler appears to be the real deal, Matt Forte is just a gem and the D may be dominant again. What did we learn at Soldier Field? Start with these five observations ...

1. Taking it easy on Forte in training camp was a wise move
After he single-handedly carried the offense at times last season and set franchise rookie records along the way, Matt Forte already announced himself as the next great back to wear a Bears uniform. But his body took quite a toll in 2008, as the former second-round draft pick accounted for 35.99 percent of Chicago's total offense and broke down in December – in the middle of a failed playoff push – as a result. While it will be nice to see Kevin Jones back at full speed and a bigger part of the ground game this year, make no mistake about it: Forte is going to get at least 20-25 touches each and every Sunday.

Sitting out the preseason opener as a precautionary measure, Forte dazzled with a 32-yard touchdown gallop Saturday and showed football fans everywhere that he's ready to be one of the league's elite.


Ogunleye got one of the many Chicago sacks.
AP Images: John Smierciak

2. The teaching of Marinelli has been put on display up front already
Even though coverage down the field remains an issue because of all the injuries in the secondary, the Monsters of the Midway look to be on their way to better pass defense this season – and it has nothing to do with the DBs. The first-team defensive line has been very good through two preseason games, putting solid pressure on the enemy QB more often than not while still playing gap-control run defense. Alex Brown had a sack in each of the first two exhibitions, Adewale Ogunleye got one himself Saturday and Marcus Harrison was credited with both a sack and a knocked-down pass versus the Giants.

The D-line as a whole has applauded the addition of Rod Marinelli since Day 1 and taken to heart all of his teachings, and it's already paying dividends.

3. Moving the pocket is the key to putting life into the passing game
While it was a shame to see what could have been a 91-yard touchdown strike from Jay Cutler to Devin Hester turn into a harmless incompletion Saturday, the mere fact that the Pro Bowl quarterback was fleet of foot enough to so much as attempt that scramble-drill pass is an encouraging sign. The Bears may have missed out on a play that would have sent Soldier Field into a frenzy, even for a preseason game, the realization that Cutler moves around as well as he does helps keep drives alive, presents big-play opportunities and makes the offensive line more effective by osmosis. Hester also learned a valuable lesson: Yes, Cutler has enough arm to find you anywhere on the field.

Not only can Cutler be effective on designed rollouts and bootlegs, but his ability to extend plays and avoid sacks has been missing from the Windy City passing game seemingly forever.


Dvoracek's career in Chicago may be finished.
AP Images: Charles Rex Arbogast

4. Don't be surprised if Saturday was Dvoracek's swan song
Although it may help that he and fellow former Oklahoma star Tommie Harris continue to be close friends to this day, the front office needs to focus on what's best for the team if Dusty Dvoracek has sustained yet another serious injury. Scheduled for a dreaded MRI on his knee Monday, Dvoracek went down – remember, he has finished all three of his professional seasons on IR – in the second half of Saturday's game against the Giants and did not come back. When asked about the extent of the injury at the postgame press conference, coach Lovie Smith didn't offer any details but also didn't sound very optimistic.

The coaching staff has already begun moving forward with the combination of Harrison and Anthony Adams at nose tackle, so don't be overly surprised if Dvoracek never suits up in Midway Monster colors again should he be sidelined for any significant length of time.

5. Rideau and Aromashodu deserve to make the final roster
The Bears have kept six receivers coming out of the preseason recently because of Hester's duties as a return man, and also due to the fact that, well, they simply didn't have much talent at the position. Rarely do practice-squad prospects develop into reliable players on Sunday, but a pair of former taxi-squad vets, Brandon Rideau and Devin Aromashodu, earned praise from Cutler throughout training camp – and each made a big play Saturday. Rideau got 20 yards off a slant pass on 3rd and 17, and Aromashodu provided one of the highlights of the evening with a sprawling grab of a fade route for 38 yards all the way down to the New York 1.

Even if it requires the deep-sixing of special-teams weapon and locker-room favorite Rashied Davis, the two youngsters bring the kind of size, speed and play-making ability Davis clearly lacks.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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