Fast-forward to Saturday night at Soldier Field on Chicago's lakefront, and you would think that Jay Cutler was a 26-year-old John Elway that arrived from Denver.
He showed that he was human by overthrowing Devin Hester by a hair on a deep ball that would have resulted in a Bears score, but he also showed why he is an elite quarterback in the NFL with a couple of his passes during his first half playing time.
What passes exactly am I talking about? We'll go in order.
13:44, First Quarter: 3rd-and-8 from the Bears 26
Obvious passing down, and he reads blitz. You don't see him panic and leave the pocket like so many quarterbacks do; instead he stands and waits until the last possible second to release the ball.
Sure, he gets clobbered by the blitzing cornerback, but he also throws a strike in stride to Earl Bennett, who caught the ball on the run and was able to pick up additional 15 yards because of the placement on the pass.
6:53, First Quarter: 1st-and-10 from the Bears 20
His fake toss to Matt Forte doesn't get any of the defensive line to bite, but his initial step to the left is able to get Justin Tuck to pursue heavy that way, creating a lane when Cutler runs back to his right.
This buys time for Cutler, who throws a laser to Bennett in a place where only he could make the catch for 15 yards. Great ability to throw on the run displayed here that we haven't seen in Chicago in quite some time.
11:12, Second Quarter: 1st-and-10 from the Giants 39
No blitz this time or heavy pressure, just a picture perfect pass where the form and placement are shown to be exactly how coaches draw these plays up.
Cutler has much time to make the pass and does. Once again, even with just a hint of pressure from the right side, he is able to stand in and deliver an on-target pass to Devin Aromashodu inside the five-yard line.
Credit Aromashodu for making an athletic move to bring the pass in, but this is further proof of how much a legitimate quarterback can help a group of unproven receivers.
These three plays showed me that Jay Cutler is indeed "The Realness" or however you want to put it. It's obvious to me that the receivers won't be as bad as so many believe based on the fact that the ball will be placed where it needs to be placed for a change.
I can't possibly overstate how much of a difference that will make in the passing game.
Other thoughts from Saturday's game
The Bears struggle with tackling the bigger running backs in the NFL and have for a long time. Their issues come from trying to tackle high though and obviously not getting low enough. On a third down and two for the Giants in the first quarter, Brian Urlacher had a chance to make a drive-ending tackle on Brandon Jacobs but instead tried to tackle him around Jacobs' shoulder.
You can guess the rest, as Jacobs ran Urlacher over and picked up the first down along with some extra yardage.
I've been telling everyone I know both on here and outside of the Internet that Matt Forte is entirely healthy and will be downright scary this year for opposing defenses if he stays that way. He looked excellent all camp and had a solid game on Saturday, including his 32-yard touchdown run.
His YPC number outside of the long run may be a bit lower than expected, but factor in second half carries in a regular season game against a more tired defense, and that will likely rise.
The Bears coaching staff loves Garrett Wolfe for some reason, and I really don't see why. They included him with the first team many times in camp to try to pass to out of the backfield and included him on a pass play Saturday night.
Upon making the reception and a nice move for some extra yards, he promptly fumbled and lost possession for the Bears. Anyone want him? I really don't, but that decision was made in my head well before Saturday's game.
In full, it was a stronger showing than that against the Buffalo Bills. The Giants ran a very vanilla offense, so seeing the secondary get tested was not in the plans like I wish it had been. I am still very worried about that this year.
The defensive line also had major issues controlling the line of scrimmage, as the Giants averaged nearly 4.5 yards per carry. There's room for improvement there as well.
Nothing is perfect yet, but it sure did look better as a whole.
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