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ARKUSH: Dominance on offense and defense means we can get excited now

OAKLAND CA - AUGUST 23:  AlshJeffery #17 Chicago Bears gets tackled by Charles Woods#24 Mike Jenkins #21 OaklRaiders second

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 23: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears gets tackled by Charles Woodson #24 and Mike Jenkins #21 of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum on August 23, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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Updated: August 29, 2013 9:25PM



And you were worried about the Bears’ offense. At what point in the first half of the Oakland Raiders game Friday did it become impossible to resist the temptation, so you ran to the phone, called your best buddy and started singing the Bears fight song?

In the first team’s final dress rehearsal for the regular season, coach Marc Trestman finally opened his bag of tricks and showed you everything you’ve longed to see. The first play of the game featured three tight ends. Then it was two tight ends, two running backs and one receiver; then three receivers, one tight end and one running back and every other combination of positions you could imagine.

The first touchdown came with Matt Forte and Michael Bush in the same backfield on a swing pass to Forte that turned into a 32-yard catch-and-run that finished in the end zone.

With 10 minutes to play in the second quarter, Jay Cutler had targeted seven different receivers on four possessions, the score was 24-0, Alshon Jeffery was the star of the game and Brandon Marshall was an afterthought.

At times, the game resembled a high school scrimmage with the varsity taking on the freshmen. But to dwell on that would be to miss the point. The Bears didn’t choose their opponents — they just beat the stuffing out of them. How many times did they fail to polish off a cupcake last year?

More to the point, they accomplished just about everything they could have hoped to accomplish in their final prep for the Cincinnati Bengals. The defense looked like Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli were still orchestrating one of the best units in the NFL, kind of. I’ll get back to that in a moment. And Robbie Gould ended the first-half scoring with a 53-yard field goal, proving he is fully recovered from offseason hamstring surgery.

The first-half totals for the first-string offense were 252 total yards, 110 rushing, 142 passing and a 27-3 lead.

As you’d expect from a West Coast offense, a ton of it ran through Forte, who had 77 yards rushing and 33 receiving with a touchdown.

Cutler was 12-for-21 for 142 yards, one TD and no interceptions, and Jeffrey had seven catches for 77 yards. The only slight disappointments were that Cutler was inaccurate at times and Marshall was shut out on four targets, including two flat-out drops.

As I mentioned, the defense was dominant, allowing the Raiders just 92 yards, with 40 of those coming in the last minute of the half with Terrelle Pryor running a two-minute drill. It took a 58-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal for the Raiders to dent the scoreboard.

Picking right up where they left off last year, the Bears had two interceptions from Tim Jennings and Isaiah Frey. Jennings made a spectacular break on the ball, but also, much like last year, those picks were very much about terrible throws by Matt Flynn.

In fact, it’s hard to know if we learned as much about the Bears’ defense as we did about how awful the Raiders were.

But here’s what was new and exciting on defense: On successive plays on the Raiders’ second possession, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker called a safety blitz from Chris Conte and then a corner blitz from Charles Tillman. The Bears blitzed twice more and made it clear this will be Tucker’s 4-3 ‘‘D’’ and not Smith’s cover-2.

Finally, there were the rookies. Individual grades have to wait for the film, but the offensive line gets the highest compliment it can get. Cutler never got dirty, and not a single offensive lineman did a thing to get noticed.

Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.



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