Just two examples of the issue fans were most passionate about shortly after kickoff:
Stebo: "What's wrong with the camera angles? They are LOUSY!!!"
There were many, many others. I agreed with those comments, and so did Tribune sports media (and golf) reporter Ed Sherman. So we both contacted Fox Sports vice president for communications Dan Bell, who replied to Ed, who sent the following to me:
"Fox was experimenting with cameras on the 35-yard line from behind the line of scrimmage. They wanted to see if it sets up the play better."
Fine, but will the experiment continue?
"The experiment will likely not continue," Bell said.
On to actual football. We didn't need Alex Brown to tell us that the defense stunk, but he , so we know the Bears know. The torching the Bears suffered at the hands of the Other Adrian Peterson (OAP), and even from Chester Taylor, as well, prompted Football Gods to post: "300 yards on the ground for Minnesota RB's. Brian Westbrook will have a field day next week when the Bears are at Philly."
(FG posted in all caps, but I will spare you the eyesore.)
OK, so exit OAP, enter a back who has a track record for being just as elusive. So what does Westbrook bring?
Defensive tackle and former Westbrook teammate Darwin Walker: "He's definitely a weapon. He's great in the open field and you gotta get to him and get him down fast, not let him get in the open field, 'cause that's where he makes a lot of plays. He gets open field or out in the flats and that kind of thing. I guess there's some [similarities between Westbrook and OAP], but Westbrook's more of a shifty back and he can make you miss, that's for sure. Every now and then he'll drop his pads and he'll run you over, too. For being so small, he's got a big heart."
Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye: "He's fast, he's averaging almost six yards a carry on the run, if not the leading receiver, one of the top leading receivers on the team, and he's a running back. So he's basically Donovan's safety valve. Running the ball and passing, he gets that offense going. He does a lot of good protection blocks, he blocks well, too, so he's an all-around back. Westbrook is just as good in the open field, maybe even better than Adrian, and that's scary. We've gotta find a way to rally to Westbrook because they're gonna get him the ball on the run and they're gonna get him in the open field on the pass, a lot of checkdowns. If we're not on our A-game, he's the kind of guy that can rack up a lot of yards."
Speaking of racking up a lot of yards, how about 170 on two touchdown plays for Devin Hester? The 81-yard pass that tied the game (for a painfully brief period) led many in the newsroom, in my e-mail inbox and on the comment board to wonder why the Bears hadn't run that play before. You know, the one where Hester runs faster than everyone and the quarterback chucks it to him like they were playing out on the street.
Quarterback Brian Griese: "He's had a little bit more each week. I think that that was kind of the plan with him. Obviously, he's learning a new position, he's learning a new side of the ball, period. In fairness to him, not giving him too much to start with was the plan. I think it worked well and he's shown that he can handle a lot of it. I think in any business, when you get a new position or a new responsibility, you have to show people that you can handle it and develop that trust, not only in the coaching staff, but in the players. And he's obviously done that. He's not in the full offense. We're not asking him to do that, necessarily. I think what we've asked him to do, he has a good understanding and grasp of."
As previously mentioned, that tie game lasted a brutally short period, due in part to a long kickoff return by--who else--OAP. John Mullin reported after the game that special teams coordinator Dave Toub had . Was it tricky to pick up?
Special teamer/defensive tackle Israel Idonije: "We have different stuff in every week. We have a big package, sometimes we use stuff, sometimes we don't. Guys didn't play well. Scheme was there, you just gotta get down and make the tackle. Actually, they were cut-blocking, which is illegal."
So while the kick coverage had a bad day, Cedric Benson played well early in the game, except for a notable exception, which Vegasbearss noted: "Another thing Benson can't do, catch a pass."
He did indeed have a few drops on checkdowns. Is he still getting used to being the go-to guy in passing plays? Was it just a bad game?
Running backs coach Tim Spencer: "I think one [pass] was a little hot, but I think the very first one that he missed was a catchable ball, and a couple others that he missed. I kinda grade him with three drops. I think one was tough, but certainly able to get. Those are passes that he has to catch. I think all of 'em, he really took his eyes off of 'em. A lot of the checkdowns, the way that we're running them, you got a corner closing in on you on the outside, and I think he took his eyes off the ball trying to look to see maybe where the corner was coming and just didn't concentrate on it. The best way to fix it is to catch it. Look the ball in and catch it. He's gonna hit you anyway."
Finally, I decided to think for myself since we had Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and head coach Andy Reid on the phone Wednesday morning. Here's a team that followed its Super Bowl loss with a sub-.500 season, headlined by uncharacteristic division losses. Why does that happen?
McNabb: "I think the situation we were involved in and maybe that they're going through, injuries play a major part in that. You're battling, you're giving all the effort, you're working hard, it's just that sometimes mistakes really take over in the course of a game. The tough part of it is that knowing the players and knowing the talent that you have, things just seem to go wrong. You remember the things that you were involved in, how you prepared, how guys were pushing each other, the attitudes at practice and the attitudes in the locker room when you were winning and you made it to the Super Bowl, and it just seems like that's not there. Guys are just pushing extra hard and maybe doing too much to try to propel it, to move it in the right direction. That's a tough situation for all players to be in, when you go from being so high to all of a sudden being so low."
Reid: "Probably the common denominator is the injury part of it. It's hard to win in the National Football League, period, with injuries. What Donovan said is probably true. We had a little bit added to that with some different situations that following year. It's tough. History shows that it's tough."