Chicago vs. Seattle: Bears Preseason Week 3 Game Preview
The team will hit the road for the first time this preseason to face off against the Seattle Seahawks this Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
Friday will mark just the fourth time the two teams have played each other in the preseason, the last being in Seattle back in 2008 with the Seahawks claiming a 29-26 victory. The Seahawks lead the all-time preseason series 2-1.
While there is little Chicago's offense needs to prove on Friday night, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker wants to see improvement from his defense, particularly against the run, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune:
Tucker on goal for Seahawks game: "Obviously we want to continue to make progress in our run defense. We will be tested."— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) August 18, 2014
The Seahawks were one of the league's best running teams last season, averaging 136.8 yards per game, led by starter Marshawn Lynch's 78.6 yards per game.
Lynch hasn't had a carry this preseason, and it wouldn't come as a surprise if he only gets a handful against the Bears Friday night. Even if Lynch's carries are limited, backups Robert Turbin and Christine Michael could give the defense headaches.
Turbin and Michael combined for 126 yards rushing on 20 carries against the San Diego Chargers last week and will give the Bears' revamped defensive line their biggest test of the preseason.
Friday night in Seattle will be the Bears' final tune-up before the start of the regular reason. Unlike the rest of the preseason, many starters are expected to play at least the first half. While a victory is always nice, head coach Marc Trestman's biggest goals for his team will be to come out of the game without injuries and for his starters to look sharp on the field.
Here is our Chicago vs. Seattle preseason Week 3 preview.
Chicago Bears Preseason Week 2 Recap
The Chicago Bears offered up more questions than answers last Thursday night in their win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite coming away with a 20-19 victory, the defense looked out of sorts at times against an average Jacksonville offense.
Quarterback Chad Henne took the Jaguars' first-team reps and went 12-of-17 for 130 yards and one touchdown, while rookie Blake Bortles went 11-of-17 for 160 yards directing the second team offense.
The Bears defensive line struggled to get much pressure on either quarterback for the majority of the night, giving both ample time to get settled and throw the football.
Along with struggling to get pressure on the quarterback, the defense struggled with slowing down the Jaguars' running game. Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson and Denard Robinson all had runs of 12-plus yards, and the Jaguars had a total of 92 yards rushing on 28 carries.
Despite the defense's struggles, they did limit the Jaguars offense to just four field goals and only one touchdown.
While it took some time to get in a rhythm, the Bears No. 1 offense finally clicked in the second quarter.
After running just five plays in the first quarter, Jay Cutler led the offense on a 10-play, 85-yard scoring drive to start the second quarter. Backups Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer combined to go 17-of-24 for 158 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The team struggled to get much going on the ground, racking up 79 on 26 attempts.
With a final opportunity for the starters to receive ample playing time this preseason, their game against the defending Super Bowl champions Friday night will give the starters a chance to find some momentum heading into the regular season.
News and Notes
Santonio Holmes Is Ready to Make a Good Impression
After injuries sidelined receivers Marquess Wilson and Chris Williams, the Bears recently signed former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes and released wide receiver Eric Weems over the weekend, per the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Potash:
#Bears announce signing of WR Santonio Holmes. They have cut Eric Weems, who struggled at WR and as a kick returner in the preseason.— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) August 16, 2014
After a couple of disappointing seasons in New York, Holmes is looking forward to his opportunity in Chicago. “I'm excited,” Holmes told the media after his first practice Monday, via Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com. “I’m going to embrace this opportunity and take advantage of it. I think it’s a great group for me to be around and I look forward to what we have coming forward.”
Despite hauling in 381 passes for 5,963 yards and 36 touchdowns in 103 games career games, Holmes hopes to show that he can recapture the form he displayed before suffering a Lisfranc foot injury in 2012.
He knows he will need to prove himself if he wants to make this team.
“You have to prove yourself every day, whether you’re a nine- or 10-year vet or if you’re a first-year rookie coming in,” Holmes told the media. “Each and every opportunity that presents itself in front of you, you have to be willing to take advantage of it.”
His opportunities are going to be limited, but if he can continue to work hard for the remainder of camp and and preseason, he has a chance to be a playmaker for this offense.
Special Teams Gets Clarity with Team Releasing Chad Rempel and Tress Way
Entering training camp, both the punter and long snapper positions were set to be battles that would last throughout the preseason.
Despite having two more preseason games on the schedule, the Bears made decisions on the two positions, releasing punter Tress Way and long snapper Chad Rempel earlier this week, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times:
#Bears sign KR/PR Darius Reynaud and CB Peyton Thompson to one-year contracts. Make release of LS Chad Rempel and P Tress Way official.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 19, 2014
Now that Way and Rempel are out of the picture, rookie punter Pat O'Donnell and long snapper Brandon Hartson will be able to take all of the reps this Friday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
O'Donnell placed two punts inside the 20-yard line last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars and will look to continue to build off a strong showing in the team's first two preseason contests.
Hartson spent part of last preseason with the Bears and will be replacing 16-year veteran Pat Mannelly.
Josh Morgan Looks to Win the No. 3 Wide Receiver Job
Despite the team's addition of Santonio Holmes over the weekend, head coach Marc Trestman likes what he has seen from veteran Josh Morgan and has him listed as the team's No. 3 wide receiver, via the Daily Herald's Bob LeGere:
#Bears coach Marc Trestman on why Josh Morgan is currently No. 3 WR: "He's had 2 good weeks of practice and 2 good games."— Bob LeGere (@BobLeGere) August 19, 2014
Morgan believes he brings a toughness to the position and has a good all-around game, telling John Mullin of CSNChicago.com:
I think I'm a workhorse at the receiver position. I contribute majorly in the blocking game, I catch everything that's thrown my way, or I try to. I break tackles, I'm physical after the run, physical in the blocking game. I think I have a very unique style at the wide receiver position, some people compare me to the type of style that Anquan Boldin has, but I couldn't really tell half the stuff that these guys do, I have to let the scouts let you describe my game.
With no given that Holmes will even make the roster, Friday night will be Morgan's best chance to lock down the No. 3 wide receiver position.
|Brian de la Puente||OL||Out|
*All injury statuses from Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com and reflect the team's last padded practice on Tuesday.
According to a report from Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY, Wilson is expected to be out until the middle of the season. The Bears have not released a timeline for Wilson's return, the head coach Marc Trestman has acknowledged that Wilson will be out for an extended period, via Adam Hoge of TheGameChicago.com:
Trestman: “Marquess (Wilson) is going to be out a while.” #Bears— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 18, 2014
In the wake of Wilson's injury, the team signed Santonio Holmes to compete for the open No. 3 wide receiver position.
Isaiah Frey injured a hamstring in the early stage of training camp. His return is still unknown.
2014 first-round pick Kyle Fuller suffered an ankle injury during the opening kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday. He did not return to the game, and the Bears expect him to be ready for the Week 1 opener against the Buffalo Bills, via ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright:
For those asking, the Bears fully expect Kyle Fuller to be ready to go for opener.— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) August 20, 2014
During the team's last padded practice this past Tuesday, right tackle Jordan Mills once again sat out of practice, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune:
Bears CB Kyle Fuller (ankle) and RT Jordan Mills (foot) did not practice today.— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) August 19, 2014
It seems unlikely that Mills will play Friday night, giving Michael Ola another chance to push for the starting job at right tackle.
After missing time this preseason, wide receiver/kick returner Chris Williams and safety Chris Conte are set to play Friday night against Seattle, via Jeremy Stoltz of BearReport.com:
Good news for #Bears. WR/KR Chris Williams will play Friday. Team could use him on both fronts.— Jeremy Stoltz (@BearReport) August 20, 2014
#Bears safety Chris Conte will play on Friday. He's received medical clearance.— Jeremy Stoltz (@BearReport) August 20, 2014
With so many questions surrounding the kick returner and safety positions, the returns of Williams and Conte on Friday night should help clarify both positions.
X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
Brandon Marshall vs. Richard Sherman
After the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers in late January, Richard Sherman had no problem crowning himself as the league's best cornerback, telling Erin Andrews of Fox Sports, via CBSSports.com's Will Brinson, “I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like (Michael) Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me!"
Sherman has backed up his statement by shutting down some of the best wide receivers in the league, but in their only meeting against one another, the Bears' Brandon Marshall got the best of Sherman.
In a December matchup in 2012, Marshall finished the game with 10 catches for 165 yards.
Not all of Marshall's catches came against Sherman, but at times he made Sherman look lost out on the field. Both players thrive off of playing a physical, relentless game.
Despite it only being a preseason game, expect both to go at it hard Friday night.
With the starters expected to play the majority of the first half, the Marshall vs. Sherman matchup may be the best of the night.
Chicago's Offensive Line vs. Seattle's Defensive Line
Even with a high-powered passing offense around him, Bears running back Matt Forte still finished second in the league in rushing in 2013 with 1,339 yards.
While preseason performances never fully predict what will happen in the upcoming season, Forte and the Bears have struggled to move the football on the ground when he has been in the game. In two games thus far, Forte has rushed seven times for minus-seven yards and 670TheScore.com's Dan Durkin hasn't yet seen much movement from the Bears' offensive line:
running game still has yet to get on track for the #bears. through two games forte has seven carries for -7 yards. OL getting no movement.— dan durkin (@djdurkin) August 15, 2014
Injuries have forced starters Kyle Long and Jordan Mills to both miss time this preseason. There is no timetable for Mills' return, but even if he isn't on the field, the offensive line needs to block better in the running game.
The offensive line will face the difficult task of squaring off against the talented defensive line of the Seahawks this Friday night.
Seattle blends a mix of young and old along its defensive line, using defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to contain the outside while Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane stuff the run up the middle.
Forte doesn't need to prove anything as a runner, but the Bears' offensive line will need to prove it can get a good push against the Seahawks or the running game may continue to falter once it gets to the regular season.
Bears X-Factor of the Week: Santonio Holmes
The biggest story out of Chicago this week has been the team's addition of wide receiver Santonio Holmes. While there are plenty of concerns as to how he will fit in the locker room, he will be able to at least temporarily silence his critics with a strong performance on the field.
Head coach Marc Trestman praised Holmes the player, telling the media after Monday's practice, via the Chicago Tribune's Rich Campbell:
He's got experience. He's an excellent route runner. He's got good hands. He has played the game. He understands the game at this level. He had a workout that was relevant enough to bring him in here and give him an opportunity to see if he can help us.
Trestman admitted that he is not sure if Holmes will play Friday, but he was happy with what he saw during Tuesday's practice, according to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times:
#Bears coach Mark Trestman said he’s not sure if Santonio Holmes will play vs. Seahawks. “I thought he worked positively today.”— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) August 19, 2014
If he sees the field on Friday it will not be about trying to catch 10 passes and record 100 yards receiving. Rather, it will be about him proving he has progressed in a short amount of time and that he has a grasp of his new offense.
Friday night's game in Seattle will be about as close as it gets to feeling like a regular-season game during the preseason.
According to ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright, the Bears want their starters to play into the second half Friday night:
Bears would like to play starters into the half and one series after halftime Friday. Depends on flow of game play count & other factors— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) August 19, 2014
The Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champions and boast one of the league's best running attacks on offense and one of the best overall defenses in the league.
Quarterback Jay Cutler and the offense have proved they can move the football through the air in the preseason, but they will face a tough task going up against a Seattle secondary that features Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
If there are any doubts about what this offense can do against a high-caliber defense, the vaunted Seahawks defense will give the Bears and Cutler a chance to silence the skeptics.
On the other side of the football, Friday night should go a long way in straightening out who will man safety spots and the strong-side linebacker position.
Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic will once again get an opportunity to fight for the open outside linebacker position, while the safety position remains a wide-open battle, even though head coach Marc Trestman complimented the play of Ryan Mundy earlier this week, via ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson:
Still no clarity at safety. Trestman content to wait it out. Although he mentions Ryan Mundy has done a nice job.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) August 15, 2014
Assuming Mundy wins one of the jobs, veterans Adrian Wilson, Chris Conte, Danny McCray and rookie Brock Vereen will continue to battle for the open safety spot.
Friday's contest will be all about finding a rhythm on both sides of the football, eliminating mistakes and overcoming what should be a wild crowd in Seattle. As long as the Bears can come away injury free and with more certainty at positions still unsettled, the game will be viewed as a victory, regardless of the scoreboard.
Prediction: Bears 23, Seahawks 30
Record/statistical information provided via email from the Chicago Bears or NFL.com.
Matt Eurich is an NFL/Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.