Arkush: Bears pass with flying colors
My first instinct was to lead with Bears offense aces final exam. But a thorough study of the tape revealed just enough to make it impossible to go that far. The offense earned a B-plus against the Raiders, but there is still work to do.
The most solid A on the night goes to head coach Marc Trestman who showed us just enough to leave us screaming for more. He orchestrated his playbook like a true Maestro working Carnegie Hall and the Raiders never knew what hit them.
Not once in the first half did he call consecutive plays out of the same personnel groupings and the Oakland defense was on its heels from the opening whistle.
Jay Cutler also showed us everything we hoped he would, spreading the ball to multiple targets and executing every call Trestman gave him as if he's been doing it for years. He knew when to tuck the ball and run and, most importantly, not once did he force a throw where it didn't belong.
The one demerit for Cutler is that he has never been the most accurate quarterback and more than a few of his throws were off the mark. You can live with it when he doesn't turn the ball over, but it does knock his grade down to a B.
The running backs get an A-plus and Matt Forte would be graded higher if such a grade existed. What makes Forte special is that his run left of nine yards on first and 10 from the Raiders 38, and his 17-yarder right on the very next play in the Bears' first possession of the second quarter were actually very poorly blocked. Forte used his exceptional balance and vision to bounce both runs back the other way for big gains.
Michael Bush struggled in the third quarter with many of the regulars on the bench but his two TD's were still a good night's work and unfair as it may be to Armando Allen, you can't make the team in street clothes. Michael Ford probably locked up the third running back spot with an outstanding series on the Bears final scoring drive.
The tight ends are a B-minus, as Martellus Bennett made a big play but missed a couple of others, although he did block very well. I suspect Steve Maneri locked up the No.2 spot and Fendi Onabun may have lost No. 3 to Kyle Adams.
The wideouts get an incomplete because, while Alshon Jeffery was an A-plus on the night, almost everone else except Eric Weems struggled. Brandon Marshall had a night to forget, and I was very disappointed that none among Joe Anderson, Marquess Wilson or Devin Aromoshadu did anything to grab the No. 3 wide receiver job.
What they probably did was make Earl Bennett a necessity.
The offensive line gets a B. They did a very nice job protecting Cutler, but the run blocking was sporadic. Jordan Mills did a great job getting the defensive end off his feet to eliminate the pursuit on the Forte touchdown, and Matt Slauson got an excellent block pulling to his left to clear Matt Forte for a 22-yard run down the sideline.
Kyle Long took another step forward but also has a list of areas to work on. He whiffed twice on blitzers and missed a block on a pull to his left that allowed David Bass to drop Bush for a 2-yard loss.
It seems clear coming out of Oakland that Long and Mills will be, and should be, starters on Opening Day versus the Bengals, but we still just don't know enough to predict how ready they are.
All things considered the offense's final dress rehearsal for the regular season was a rousing success. Beyond the 246 yards and 27 points the first team put up in the first half, they left more than enough plays on the field to leave us wondering just how good this offense can be?
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.