Bears Preseason Report: Contenders or Pretenders?
Prior to the Chicago Bears first preseason game, we broke down just why each game was worth watching. As we noted then, Week 3 of the preseason is when the starters see the most playing time and fans can begin to properly gauge where their team stands. Well, the talk around town all summer has been that the Chicago Bears are a legitimate contender this season, and that hypothesis is about to be tested when they face off against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants this Friday night.
Now this is why preseason is great. This is a win/win for the Bears. If they are able to go out and execute offensively against one of the league’s best defenses, they will start the season with a confidence we haven’t seen on the offensive side of the ball in years. On the other hand, if the Giants come out and expose that all our worst fears are a reality (our offensive line can’t block and safeties can’t cover deep against elite teams), the coaching staff will have time to change personnel or further develop schemes to compensate for these problems if they should arise during the season.
With this being our best glimpse into what the Bears will look like heading into our September 9th opener against the Indianapolis Colts, here are a few storylines we think you should follow during the game:
It’s no secret that the Chicago Bears offensive line is their biggest question mark heading into the season. The New York Giants on the other hand boast one of the best defensive line units in all of football, headlined by a defensive end rotation of Pro Bowl caliber players in Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul* and Osi Umenyiora. The last time we saw these units face off (Oct. 2010), it was an embarrassing night for the Bears and a record-breaking one for the Giants, as they were able to sack Bears QB Jay Cutler 9 times in the first half. We’re really going to be able to see how much the Bears’ o-line has improved as they face off against this elite unit. Right tackle Gabe Carimi expressed this point to media as well, explaining, “We’re going to test our protections against one of the best in the business. We’ll know right where we stand.’’ With the starting left tackle and left guard spots yet to be locked down, the performance of players Chris Williams, J’Marcus Webb, Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal in this game should go a long way in determining who plays and who sits. While the starters likely won’t be officially announced until the conclusion of preseason, we should have a good idea come Saturday morning.
*may not play against the Bears Friday
Due to injuries to Chris Conte and Brandon Hardin – neither of which were very serious but still likely to keep these two on the shelf for the rest of the preseason – Major Wright and Craig Steltz will get an extended shot to stake their claim for the starting safety positions. While both Steltz and Wright have started for the Bears in the past, solid play from Conte had him pegged as the starter while Hardin seemed to be earning himself some playing time as well. Without much defensive back depth at the moment keep an eye out for Anthony Walters to step up and earn himself a spot on the squad. Others not likely to play on Friday include Brian Urlacher, Adam Podlesh, Corey Wootton, Stephen Paea, Adam Podlesh, Dom DeCicco and Matt Spaeth.
Best case scenario, the Chicago Bears are able to build off their successes from last week , crown a winner in the remaining position battles and walk away without any further injuries. Worst case? Well…
Photo Credit: Nam Y Huh/AP Photo