With the "passing" of Kyle Orton and the return of the 2006 defense, the Bears came away with a strong opening game to the 2008 season and defeated the Indianapolis Colts in their brand spanking new Lucas Oil Stadium. A 29-13 victory against what is now one of the favorites to win the AFC is great start to the season, but is it a bit of misleading?Colts quarterback Peyton Manning came into the game without taking a snap throughout the entire preseason and for an offense that heavily relies on timing to dominate the opponents defense, it showed just how much work the team needs together. Maybe part of the problem was that the Colts were starting a rookie at Center, a key position on the offensive line for Manning and the way he changes plays at the line. But I'm sure if you ask Manning, he would tell you that whoever starts at center isn't important, it's how he passes the football that matters. And he didn't pass all that poorly. He was 30 of 49, with 1 TD and 257 yards. But Manning burned timeouts like they were going out of style, including using two in the same 1st quarter drive. You can tell that he just seemed out of sorts.
And the Bears played well enough to win, dominating on the ground and mixing in a ball control passing game to help control the amount of times the Colts offense was on the field. But the most telling stat for the Bears was the zero turnovers. The one thing the Bears must do this season if they plan on competing is cut down the number of fumbles and interceptions they give up this season. And having Orton at QB will help.
Orton isn't the type of passer to take chances. Sure, every once in a while he will try to go down field and take a chance, but nowhere near the number of times Rex Grossman might. And that's the type of quarterback play that the Bears are looking for. And at some point as a Bears fan, you have to wonder when they might actually start to go for quarterbacks that can win you ballgames, not just quarterbacks that will keep you in games. But I guess when you're best wide receivers are in fact your tight ends, you have to wonder if the quarterbacks play the way they do because the have to.
Running back Matt Forte became only the second rookie running back since 1975 to start on opening day and stepped up with a 123 yard game, including a 50 yard TD run. But that TD run makes his stats a little misleading. You take away that rush, and he ran for 73 yards on 22 carries, not exactly something that instills confidence in the running game. But still, it did it's job Sunday night and helped propel them to a surprising opening night victory, and hopefully the first of many on the way to a return to the playoffs.