By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter
12:33 PM CDT, August 16, 2013
At some point, Marc Trestman must tire of finding the upside in rebounding from a rocky beginning because if he doesn't the masses will tune him out.
It was a talking point the first-year Bears coach was able to refine with regular use in training camp and last week at Carolina when Jay Cutler was intercepted on the offense's first snap.
It was appropriate again Thursday night at Soldier Field after the quarterback was sacked on two of the first three plays.
Tight end Martellus Bennett was whipped by Jarret Johnson for a sack and then Cutler held the ball too long as the pocket closed in on him.
The Bears (1-1), who went on to defeat the Chargers 33-28, jumped ahead 14-0 in the first quarter with Cutler in the game but it wasn't as dominating as the score would indicate.
"We're just trying to get better," Trestman said. "We didn't look good. We got our composure. We came back and we got things in order."
Matt Forte's 58-yard run around left end set up a perfectly placed pass to Brandon Marshall for a 5-yard touchdown.
But on the next possession Cutler forced the ball deep downfield to his favorite target, who wasn't open. Linebacker Donald Butler picked the ball off in front of Marshall and free safety Eric Weddle had coverage over the top. The pass never should have been thrown.
But the opportunistic defense, which shut out the Chargers' starters, quickly got the ball back when Shea McClellin had a sack/strip of Philip Rivers.
Cutler rolled out to hit Marshall for an easy 19-yard gain and Forte, with four runs to the right side of the line, scored on a 3-yard rush. Cutler finished 4 of 5 for 38 yards and all five passes were intended for Marshall. There were some good plays — the touchdown pass was put where Marshall could outmuscle Shareece Wright for it — but also two very bad ones in a quarter of work.
At the end of training camp, Trestman acknowledged there were too many turnovers during the stay at Olivet Nazarene University and Cutler was intercepted on the first play of team drills on three days. It has created a routine where the Bears then find a way to put some plays together.
But they're unlikely to find an opponent as sloppy as the Chargers, who committed four turnovers, in the regular season when digging an early hole could be more than problematic.
There is plenty more to evaluate on offense. Forte ran for 74 yards on eight carries and was worked primarily behind the right side that rookies manned.
First-round draft pick Kyle Long started at right guard and Jordan Mills, a fifth-round selection from Louisiana Tech, was put next to him at right tackle. The latest experiment, which began Sunday in training camp, might have some staying power. Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said they are willing to go until the week of the Sept. 8 opener against the Bengals to select a starting five. But the third exhibition game — next Friday at Oakland — is treated as the dress rehearsal for the regular season with the starters playing into the third quarter after mock halftime adjustments.
Long was physical and Mills gave up a pressure early in the first quarter but they looked solid together even if it wasn't against a top-flight defense.
"I thought it was good but to be specific from this point of view would be a little bit premature," Trestman said.
The coaches seem interested in moving on from J'Marcus Webb, who was demoted from right tackle to run with the second team at left tackle. In the next week the Bears will have to select what they think (or hope) their starting line will look like against the Bengals and go through the game-planning that is done for the third exhibition.
Maybe no one will win a starting a job between now and the Raiders game but the decisions made will be telling. Perhaps the Bears will find a way to get off to a better start the next time out.
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