While the Detroit Lions were finishing off the Pittsburgh Steelers in an impressive 30-17 win, their three NFC North foes were also in action over the weekend, getting a first look at their squad. Obviously, there’s not a lot of conclusions that can be made when first-teamers are only getting a possession or two to work out the kinks, but let’s take a look around the division to see how the teams are coming along.
Chicago Bears (lost 22-0 to Broncos)
There’s not too much that went right for the Chicago Bears in their preseason opener. In the very first drive of the game, the Bears allowed Mark Sanchez to drive right down the field. The Broncos went up 7-0 incredibly quickly, with Sanchez completing seven of nine passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in the first drive alone.
The offense didn’t look much better, either. Jay Cutler headed three different drives. Those drives resulted in more three-and-outs (two) than first downs (one). Chicago has a big offensive line problem on their hands. Cutler was sacked twice and only dropped back to pass six times. Bears quarterbacks were sacked seven times in the entire game.
The Bears’ rookie cornerback Deiondre Hall did some positive things in his NFL debut. Chicago has had a big problem with its secondary for a few years now and if the Hall selection pays off, it would be huge for the Bears.
The Bears left Soldier Field relatively healthy, aside from defensive end Cornelius Washington being carted off with a knee injury. Washington has only been a minor contributor for the team in the past three years, but he had three tackles and a sack during Thursday’s game before leaving with the injury. Sixth-round safety DeAndre Houston-Carson and running back Ka’Deem Carey also went down with injuries; the severity of which are both unknown.
Minnesota Vikings (won 17-16 over Bengals)
The Vikings didn’t move the needle much in their opener. It was very much a good news/bad news day for the first-teamers.
On defense, the team allowed 139 yards of offense in the first two series alone. The good news, though, is that those drives resulted in zero points. In the first drive, Andy Dalton led the Bengals into field goal range, but Mike Nugent hooked a 48-yard field goal wide right. The second drive was astonishing. Starting at their own 7-yard line, A.J. McCarron led Cincinnati all the way down to the Vikings’ 3-yard line... in 22 plays. The Vikings defense tightened up and a fourth-and-1 attempt was stuffed, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Offensively, Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings’ first-stringers didn’t see much play (Adrian Peterson did not play at all). After a quick three-and-out to start the day, Bridgewater connected on a brilliantly thrown ball to Charles Johnson for a touchdown, capping off an impressive 96-yard drive.
Green Bay Packers (won 17-11 over Browns)
Not much can be gleaned from the Packers’ first-string offense. Aaron Rodgers did not play, and neither did Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson. Eddie Lacy only played six snaps, while the first-team offensive line saw just 13. In fact, Green Bay’s backup quarterback, Brett Hundley, didn’t play either. Don’t read into anything that happened on Saturday on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, the Packers were also without some starters. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were just two of a handful of defensive starters that didn’t see the field. Still, they allowed Robert Griffin III to drive 59 yards down the field in his first offensive drive, before picking him off in the end zone. But, again, there weren’t many standout performances — positively or negatively — from Packers starters, so there isn’t much to analyze here.
Weird, but true
This game featured three safeties and I’m not talking about the position. I’m talking about the two-point plays. First, James Starks was tackled in the end zone after the Packers were pinned deep in their own zone. Next, it was the Browns turn when Cody Kessler did his best Dan Orlovsky impression and ran out of the end zone. The Browns ended up taking another safety shortly thereafter when Kessler was sacked in his own end zone.
The Packers did not suffer any significant injuries during the preseason game, but they did find out that receiver Jeff Janis did not play because of a broken hand. This injury puts Janis’ chances of making the final 53-man roster at risk.