The Chicago Bears’ preseason is half over now. Some position battles have gotten intense, and we can see some trends. We have also seen some bad breaks and surprise cuts. We will go over all that we’ve learned so far.
So far, Jay Cutler has been sharp. Sure, it has just been a handful of plays, but he has looked good. So far for the preseason, Cutler’s line is 16-22, 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also has yet to throw an interception.
One good sign from Cutler has been his reads. Whereas before he would zone in on Brandon Marshall with a lot of his passes, he is now going through his progressions, looking for the open receiver.
Of course, to do that Cutler needs to have a good offensive line. That is exactly what the Bears have. The line has given up just two sacks, none of them with Cutler on the field.
Cutler’s touchdown pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday illustrated how good the line can be. Cutler dropped back and looked for an open receiver. And looked…And looked. After what seemed like ten minutes, he found Brandon Marshall. We need to see more of that from the line.
In the backup quarterback fight, Jordan Palmer made a comeback. Some had him outplaying Jimmy Clausen and the battle appears to be tight again. Clausen went 11-15 for 94 yards, while Palmer went 6-9 for 73 yards. Neither player threw a touchdown, and Clausen threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted.
What is concerning about this battle is that the player who goes against the third-string unit shines, while the other one who plays against the second unit struggles. That is not a good sign for either of them. Should Cutler go down, whoever is the winner will have to go against the ones, and neither guy has instilled confidence in being able to handle that.
For my part, I still have Clausen slightly ahead of Palmer. He still appears the most confident in the pocket, and his passes have more zip to them than Palmer’s.
The throw of the preseason, however, was made by a referee. In making a penalty call, he threw his flag about 31 yards. Maybe he can back up Culter.
Ka’Deem Carey is getting a bulk of the carries so far. After getting ten carries in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he got thirteen against the Jaguars. He has to find a way to increase his yards per carry, though. Through two games, he is averaging 2.6 yards/carry. That number must go up.
Shaun Draughn is getting limited carries but he is making the most of them. He has just four carries for the preseason, but has gotten 35 yards (8.8 yds/carry).
Senorise Perry had 13 yards on 4 carries, but he did get a touchdown. He may be a project, but he may be too far off now for the Bears.
Even though there is no problem with Forte being the starter, it would be nice to see him run forward instead of backwards. He has seven carries for -8 yards this offseason. Not worried, but let’s just see him gain yards, not lose them.
None of the wide receivers took a step to take a stranglehold on the third wide receiver slot. Only one receiver had a touchdown reception, and that was by Marshall.
Josh Morgan has five catches for 77 yards for the preseason, but no
touchdowns. He made a couple of good catches, but overall he doesn’t seem like a third wide receiver. He will make the team, though.
The race for that third wide receiver is so muddled right now that the Bears went out and got Santonio Holmes. We reported here that Holmes worked out for the team about a week ago, but that nothing was decided then. Something was done now, however.
With Holmes, things should heat up. If he could show he is over the foot problem, he should be a good addition to go with Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. We shall see.
As with the first game, no attention on the safeties means they are doing a good job. Adrian Wilson is continuing to show that he is over his injury and ready to get back to his old form. He had a tackle and an assist.
The coaching staff is rotating the safeties, looking for the best combination of players, regardless of whether they are free or strong safety.
The special teams unit played better against the Jaguars than they did against the Eagles. They did not give up any touchdowns, as coverage was better.
There was a shocking development with the returners, however. Eric
Weems had four of the six kickoff returns, and had the highest return average, but he made a few bad choices. On two occasions, he decided to take the ball out from deep in his own end zone, and not making it to the twenty.
Weems was expected to make the team on special teams, but the Chicago Bears decided to go another way and decided to cut Weems. The search for Devin Hester‘s replacement continues. When Chris Williams is healthy, look for him to take the job.
The punters did a better job as well. Each punter had three punts, but Pat O’Donnell looks to be in the lead over Tress Way. He had a higher punt average (48.7 yards to Way’s 43.3 yards), and had two punts land inside the twenty, while Way had none.
In other news, Shea McClellin feels more comfortable at weakside linebacker, and he looks it. He still needs some work, but he looked better in his second game. He had four tackles in the game, and did not look out of place like he did at times against the Eagles. It is good to see him take positive steps.
The next game for the Chicago Bears is on Friday against the champs, the Seattle Seahawks. This is the important third game, the one which is basically a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The starters will go longer, and those who are going to be depended on during the season will be used longer as well. Come back to DaWindyCity,com for all your Bears coverage.