If the Bears hadn't tried to play an exhibition game without a long snapper, their starting defense or offensive line — familiar issues from a year ago — would have been the most embarrassing elements Saturday night at Soldier Field.
Because until Jason Campbell began to look like the quarterback he was with the Redskins in the second quarter, the Bears looked like they did last season against, well, take your pick: Cincinnati, Arizona or Baltimore. Those teams steamrolled them and that's what the Raiders were on their way to doing when they sliced right through the Bob Babich turned Lovie Smith turned Rod Marinelli defense. That's the only way to describe what happens when a team completes a 40-yard screen pass to a fullback.
Jay Cutler to be sacked five times in the first half in the 21 times he dropped back to pass, with Kamerion Wimbley beating left tackle Chris Williams for 3½ sacks. That is the same number Orlando Pace allowed last season in 11 starts before he was run off.
Questions were supposed to be at right guard and right tackle. If the left tackle issue isn't solved, where are the Bears? Those issues will be far more dissected this week than anything else following the Bears' 32-17 loss.
"I got beat," William said. "No surprises. Just didn't play well. Keep working. It's not going to happen again. I don't know what to tell you besides I'm going to keep working hard."
Patrick Mannelly will return to action soon after suffering a stinger last week at San Diego. So the Bears (0-2) won't be subjected to bounced snaps by fill-in Desmond Clark. But the other issues are far murkier.
Missing running back Darren McFadden and wide receivers Chaz Schilens and Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders (2-0) looked finely tuned with receivers running open in the secondary as they took a 10-0 lead after their first two drives. Campbell completed 10 of 20 passes for 170 yards.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher left the game with a left calf injury on the opening drive and did not return, and things looked shaky in the secondary where Danieal Manning, starting at strong safety, got spun around on routes before running back Michael Bush ran through him. The only pass rush the front four produced came from Julius Peppers. The good news is Lovie Smith said Urlacher isn't seriously injured.
General manager Jerry Angelo wrapped up training camp last week by saying he would reserve judgment on his offensive line. It's fair to assume he has a standing reservation heading into next week's third exhibition game with Arizona.
The focus has been on Lance Louis and Frank Omiyale on the right side. It has been almost a given that Williams would settle the most important position on Cutler's blind side. No assumptions are safe at this point after Wimbley repeatedly turned the corner on him.
Cutler's 22-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Knox just before halftime came after Wimbley had flushed him out of the pocket and he was forced to improvise.
"It wasn't exactly drawn up like that," Cutler said. "Offensive line, they're still gelling together, working together. They were in their right spot, which is always a good thing to see. It wasn't like they were just completely busted, more just physical stuff which can be corrected. Those guys are going to be good. I'm not worried about them."
Reports of Matt Forte's increased speed were not exaggerated in Bourbonnais. Behind pulling center Olin Kreutz, and with nice blocks from Louis and tight end Kellen Davis, Forte darted through a hole on the right side and raced 89 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears, who played their starters for two quarters, led 14-13 at halftime, the result of a botched snap by Raiders backup center Chris Morris that Israel Idonije recovered at the Oakland 25, setting up the Knox touchdown. Campbell also made a terrible decision in lofting an interception to Charles Tillman near the goal line. Cutler and Co. converted just 1 of 7 third-down tries.
The Bears will say they're playing it vanilla on defense and nifty wrinkles are to come, but that's what the Cover-2 is for the most part. Williams acquitted himself well in the final few games of last season, so panic would be premature. But this is a major work in progress.
"We still have a few weeks and I am going to reserve my judgment on (the O-line) until they start playing together for at least a few weeks," Angelo said.
The regular season begins in three weeks.
Lines struggle as Bears fall to Raiders
Long snapping a mess too with Mannelly out
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