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SportsMonday: Bad Start A Bears Blessing

Let's hear it for starting the season with a little humility.

After all, Jay Cutler certainly bounced back well enough on Sunday. He had to after receiving a critical reminder that he is far from perfect when despite no pass-rush pressure he tossed a brutal pick in the right flat that Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman returned about 2.5 yards for a touchdown. It happened on the Bear offense's fourth play from scrimmage.

It was an unbelievably bad start to the season, but it could have been the best thing to happen to this team if they want Cutler to carry them to a deep playoff run.

Cutler has never been shy about barking at teammates when things go wrong, so it was good to see a little pre-emptive strike on his ego. While he improved on this score last year over the previous season - a sign of the kind of maturity he needs to be a real team leader - he is still prone to lapses in which he makes it crystal clear that his inferior teammates are not fit to wear the midnight blue and orange.

This feels like an instance where some individual adversity - that interception was nobody's fault but his own - followed by plenty of team success has a great chance to put the quarterback in the right frame of mind going forward. It certainly worked out that way on Sunday.

Cutler's strong performance and his outstanding new receivers - which we'll get to - were certainly the keys on Sunday, but the Bears also caught a few breaks that the woeful Colts could ill afford, though that's what happens to bad teams like Indy.

First, the Colts lost defensive end Dwight Freeney in the first quarter to an ankle injury.

And let's face it, while Bears offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb didn't quite cheap shot Freeney, he did reach out to get behind his ower leg just enough to make his block more like tackle. Freeney's foot got caught up underneath him and twisted and he was done for the day.

Then there was a wide-open Colts running back Donald Brown dropping the ball in the right flat on 3rd-and-2 with 1:41 left in the first quarter and the game tied. Not only was he in position to get the first down, he had a chance to turn the corner romp through the Bears' secondary. Instead, the Colts punted from the Bears' 47 and while they pinned Chicago down at their five, Cutler led them on a 95-yard scoring drive and took the lead for good.

The Bears appeared to get the benefit of a bad call on Tim Jennings' high-flying interception - the first of two by the Colts castoff on the day - given that Israel Idonije was almost certainly offsides on the play.

But these are details; the rout was on.

And credit for that goes almost entirely to the Bears' shiny new passing game, best illustrated by the longest-tenured Bear, long-snapper Patrick Mannelly, telling WBBM sideline reporter Zach Zaidman that after the final touchdown - a 42-yard catch-and-run by rookie Alshon Jeffery - he had to take off his helmet to make sure there was still a "C" on it. The Bears finished with 428 total yards and 314 of them came from the passing game.

In other words, this is a very different Bears team than even the oldest playing Bear can remember. Heck, with these sorts of receivers it is a different Bears team than any fans can ever remember seeing.

As for the defense, Henry Melton is obviously coming on, recording five tackles and two sacks.

But it was a strong game for the defensive line in general, from generating just enough push early on to force Andrew Luck into key overthrows, to (mostly) limiting the Colts' running game.

And the fact that they held the lead well enough (never allowing it to shrink to less than two touchdowns in the second half) enabled coach Lovie to keep Brian Urlacher on the sideline for most of the final two quarters - despite his objections.

And the best part of the whole thing? It's Packers Week already.


From ESPN: Zubin Mehenti and Cris Carter break down the Bears spoiling Andrew Luck's debut as Chicago defeats Indianapolis 41-21.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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