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The Bears lost their pre-season opener to the Chargers on Saturday night, but conventional wisdom in the pre-season is to focus on individual performances, not game results. How did the team do?
Stars -- the bright and shiny spots from Saturday's game:
Devin Aromashadou: An excellent performance on Saturday night was sure to turn heads as he made four catches for 78 yards, including a touchdown pass in the second quarter. A game like this won't be forgotten when Mike Martz and Lovie Smith make decisions about playing time for second-string receivers.
Major Wright: In a fight for playing time with Josh Bullocks, Wright distinguished himself by being all over the field on defense. The free safety made six tackles and assisted on one, and seemed to be involved in every play. The one bad spot is that he did sustain a finger injury in the game.
Robbie Gould: The most consistent player of the Bears past six seasons continued that streak against the Chargers. Gould made one field goal that counted, but the more exciting move from Gould didn't count in the score. In the second quarter, he sent a 52-yard field goal through the uprights, but it was waved off because of a Chargers penalty. He even made a TD-saving tackle when the rest of the special teams unit couldn't stop the Chargers. It's refreshing to know that when the Bears come up short, the team can still count on Gould.
Jay Cutler: Considering Cutler was only in for one series, think of him as a mini-star, a comet. But he did go two for two, including two pretty passes to Johnny Knox that set up the Bears first score. It's too early to tell if Cutler is a natural fit with Mike Martz's offense, but the glimpse we saw wasn't half bad.
Black holes -- the life-sucking, desolate forces of nothingness on Saturday night:
Special teams: If you spent any time yelling at your television on Saturday night, chances are you were yelling about the plain awful special teams play. Brad Maynard had a punt blocked and then allowed the ball to roll out of the back of the end zone, giving the Chargers a safety. He followed that up with a 28-yard punt, which set up the Chargers in Bears' territory. San Diego rookie Richard Goodman busted out a 51-yard kickoff return. A unit that had been previously rock solid fell apart against the Chargers.
Offensive line: Bears quarterbacks were sacked six times on Saturday night, giving up a total of 48 yards. Cutler was in for only eight plays, yet still was sacked. The Bears gained a total of 216 yards, and of that paltry amount of offense, only 48 of those yards came on the ground. The O-line has long been a liability for Chicago, but their performance was plain pitiful.
First-team red zone offense: The first series of the game was deja vu from last season. Cutler and Knox set up the team in the red zone, Matt Forte added some yards on the ground, and then Cutler was sacked and the team couldn't recover. Gould was sent in to clean up the mess, and put the Bears on the board with a field goal instead of a touchdown. Does that scenario seem familiar?
If it is, it's because it was par for the course last season. Dumb mistakes resulted in the Bears not making the end zone, and the team having the 19th ranked offense in the NFL. One series in pre-season won't tell us everything about the team we will be watching until January, but what we saw in the red zone didn't inspire confidence.