First off, the first team offense has been uninspiring this preseason, and I for one do not believe for a second that it is just McDaniels hiding the rest of the playbook - you don't just pull out 200 other plays and have them magically work. The comment has been made that the more successful conventional runs and downfield passes that appear once Orton leaves the field say this to me: The conventional plays work with our personnel, and the screen-happy attack being led by Orton does not. 1st team, 2nd team, whatever. The more conventional sets work.
Last night the Chicago defense did exactly what I feared teams would start doing as soon as they figured out that Orton does not/will not/can not throw downfield with accuracy (something the Bears already knew better than anyone) - play man defense on the outside and stack everyone else on the line to snuff the screen and dump-off game. And it worked. Unless McD and Orton prove otherwise, that is the defensive look they will be facing all season.
Onto some specifics
I saw virtually nothing from the first string offense. The running game averaged less than 2 yards per carry in the first half. Orton was his usual self, throwing a cachet of screens and dump-offs, almost getting picked off twice on errant throws, and missing his single mid-range attempt (wide open) by several feet. The throw he was injured on was 6 feet out of bounds.
Defense: The positive - the pass rush was encouraging, from Doom at least. However, if the Bears had been smart and left a RB in to block on Doom's side, Cutler would have had enough time to fix himself a sandwich before anyone else got there. The run defense was hot/cold, but after the first two defensive series it looked like Turner and Cutler figured the Bronco defense out and had them guessing and jumping at shadows for the remainder of the half.
Then there's the turnover's - or lack thereof. Much has been made about the pass that hit Goodman right in the hands. By the time it hit his hands, it was behind him (a tough catch by any standard), and thrown a lot harder than he has faced this season either in practice or a game. Great job jumping the route though, so I'm not too irritated with him for missing that one.
The deep ball at the end of the half is a different story. Goodman was beat, and that should have been a 42 yard, walk-in-the-park TD. Cutler did not lead his receiver far enough, forcing the wideout to stop and wait, allowing Goodman to catch up, and the ball still hit the receiver in both hands. That was an offensive miscue on Cutler (everyone should be excited about that), and a lucky turn for Goodman, who has been getting beat routinely downfield this preseason.
Some positive this-and-that
Colquitt - A coffin corner kick? The last Denver punter to be able to pull that trick off was Mike Horan. I'm still not fully sold on Colquitt for reasons of consistency. Great kick followed by a shank, repeat.
Pass protection - this is the starting team's forte, and it showed. Discounting the one 7-man blitz that resulted in a sack, Orton had time - he simply did not take advantage of it.
Brandstater and the 2nd team - I really don't count this among things to get excited about, since many of these players won't be on the team come the regular season, and the rest will not be seeing much playing time. That said, TB acquitted himself nicely, although the deep ball should have been a TD if it hadn't been underthrown.
Outside coverage - this may be attributed as much to the lack of outside playmakers for Chicago as the play of the Denver DBs (see the above discussion of Goodman), but the Chicago WRs were barely mentioned until the starting Denver secondary was on the sideline.
And some negative this-and-that
Penalties - Boo it all you want, every one of them was legit.
Kicking to Hester - enough said.
Run blocking - Almost no push at the point of attack. The zone blocking that has been hyper-productive for 15 years appears to have been replaced by a more conventional man-up run blocking that this O-line is not built to perform.
Playcalling on long yardage situations - at least ACT like you're going to try. This may come as a surprise, but 3rd and 8 is considered a manageable passing down. However, the call needs to require that ball to be thrown past the yardage marker, not throw your 9th bubble screen and pray the WR can make the play. In the post game interviews, McDaniels was lamenting the number of 2nd and long/3rd and long situations. For an offensive genius, he seems to have a very narrow view of what constitutes workable situations.
3rd down defense (again) - Unlike last season when nothing worked on defense, it has been much more difficult to pin down the primary issues for being unable to get off the field. While much of it last night was simply Cutler's ability to buy time and find guys downfield, throughout the preseason there have been major lapses both in pass and run defense on 3rd downs of every distance. On two separate 3rd and 1 situations, the d-line generated zero penetration, allowing Forte to reach the marker before having to worry about being touched. And twice on the 98-yard-drive, the linebackers were unable to stay with Olsen and Clark in the middle of the field to avoid 15 yard gains.
In the final analysis, I saw very little last night to feel good about. However, there was very little to feel worse about as well. The 1st team defense is still playing better than last year's model, but the 1st team offensive production has dropped precipitously and has scored 13 points in 6 quarters of play. With that in mind, it is difficult to call last night a failure since it was essentially par for the course.