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Pompei: Observations From Bears-Patriots

By Dan Pompei--

(CBS) On the one hand, the Bears' experience in New England showed the team wasn't as inept as it had appeared one week earlier. On the other, the Bears showed there's still plenty of work to be done and concerns to be addressed after a 23-22 loss to the Patriots on Thursday night.

Overall, the trip to Foxboro had to be deemed progress.

Here are my observations on the game:

1. Nothing helps pass protection quite like an aggressive, consistent run game. The Bears' offensive front finished blocks and blasted open holes for the runners. When that happens, pass protection becomes a lot easier -- and less important.

2. It's starting to look like the Bears are going to be able to run the ball well, even without Matt Forte. The right side of the line is big and physical, and second-year back Jeremy Langford has the instincts and burst to make the run game go. He carried eight times for 55 yards on Thursday.

3. Jay Cutler played with composure. He was smooth and confident. He looked like the veteran he is. Cutler finished 8-of-12 for 83 yards.

4. Cutler apparently wasn't ignoring a wide-open tight end and throwing into double coverage. With former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett on the other sideline, Cutler threw six of his passes to tight ends, completing four for 28 yards.

5. In a game without Rob Gronkowski and Zach Miller, Bennett was the fourth-most productive tight end. He had two catches for 26 yards.

6. Bears backup quarterback Brian Hoyer's performance didn't inspire confidence, but he didn't have the opportunity to throw to Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and the first-team offense. He didn't get a lot of help from his receivers.

7. It's a different Bears offense with Jeffery on the field. He two catches for 41 yards, including a 29-yard reception.

8. The Bears aren't yet in crisis mode at the cornerback position, but they could be moving toward crisis mode.

9. I'll be surprised if cornerback Kyle Fuller is a starter when he comes back from knee surgery.

10. A lot of outside linebackers have more talent than Sam Acho, but I'll take him on my team any day. If anyone was thinking about cutting him, they might have to rethink it.

11. I say rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard is going to help the Bears this year. And he's going to help them for years to come.

12. The takeaway from this game: The Bears can find some help on the waiver wire when cutdowns come.

Dan Pompei has been covering the NFL since 1985 and is a regular contributor to 670 The Score and a host on 670's Bears pregame show. He writes for Bleacher Report and You can follow him on Twitter @Dan Pompei.

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