Andy Dalton: Week 1, at Chicago.
|Dropback||0||0||0||1, 34 yards||1||1|
|Total||0||0||0||1, 34 yards||3||1|
Dalton’s second interception was clearly not his fault – A.J. Green dropped what should have been a first down catch over the middle and kindly directed his bobble over to Charles Tillman for his second pick of the first half. The first interception, occurring on Dalton’s second throw of the game, required a great cut in front of the ball by Tillman on a quick slant, but the impression I got from the play was that Dalton was throwing the ball to Green no matter what type of coverage would have been there, so I’m not sure if he should be absolved from blame for that one.
Otherwise, Dalton looked outstanding against what was the best pass defense in the league last year. The only inaccurate throw I had him down for was a missed fade on the goalline to Green and he made up for that on the next play by throwing a touchdown to Green on a in-and-out route. The most noticeable improvement in Dalton’s passing Sunday compared to last season was his accuracy on the deep ball. Dalton would commonly overthrow his receivers by five to ten yards on go routes in 2012, but all three deep throws to Green yesterday were right on the money. The improved accuracy netted the Bengals 121 yards (including a 34-yard DPI penalty) and either directly resulted in or set up all three of the team’s touchdowns.
Also encouraging for Dalton going forward this season: both his tight ends (Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert) had big games and brought different dimensions to the passing game – Eifert more of a speed threat than you would usually associate with the position and Gresam providing bruising yards after the catch.
Jay Cutler: Week 1, vs. Cincinnati.
Cutler’s interception, coming on the second play of the fourth quarter, was either a miscommunication with Michael Bush (if you’re looking for a silver lining) or a typically careless Cutler turnover (if you’re more of the pessimistic type). No matter what was supposed to happen, the result was ugly – Cutler threw outside as Bush broke inside on an in route and Vontaze Burfict was treated to an easy turnover.
With that said, though, Cutler was otherwise excellent. You’ll see no sacks appear on his ledger, but while the revamped Bears offensive line hung in there against the strong Bengals front four, Cutler also evaded a number of blown blocks and was able to either get rid of the ball a moment before Bengals defensive linemen brought him down or created big plays like the 30-yard completion to Martellus Bennett on a 3rd down in the middle of the third quarter that swung the game’s mometum around at a time the Bears trailed 21-10. In other words, it was a typical Good Cutler game – the type of game where Smokin’ Jay props up a mediocre supporting cast (though it’s important to note that Bennett and Brandon Marshall both looked good) with his superior natural talent. The interesting thing to note going forward will be whether he can string a number of these Good Cutler games together in a row.
Player Who Was Better Than His Stats Would Indicate
Gresham. Five catches for 35 yards isn’t anything special out of context, but Gresham caught all five passes that were thrown to him, gained (by my count) 27 of those 35 yards after the catch, picked up three first downs and generally was a pain in the tucus to bring down.
Player Who Was Worse Than His Stats Would Indicate
Tim Jennings. Jennings forced a fumble in the second quarter, recovered one in the fourth quarter ad led the Bears in tackles. Of course, it’s rarely a good thing if one of your cornerbacks is leading the team in tackles and it wasn’t for the Bears on Sunday, either. Jennings most notably got burned by Green on Dalton’s 45-yard touchdown throw in the second quarter.
Memorable Play of the Game That Ultimately Wasn’t Important
|1st and 10 at CHI 25||(Shotgun) J.Cutler pass short left to A.Jeffery to CHI 30 for 5 yards (R.Maualuga).|
One of Cutler’s few inaccurate passes of the day was an absolute Screaming Mimi low and outside to Alshon Jeffery over the middle that Jeffery just stuck his tennis racket for a hand out and slowed down enough to make a bobbling catch at the end of the third quarter. It was a pass that had absolutely no business being completed and Jeffery made the impossible possible. To set up Cutler’s pick three plays later, but still.