The Chicago Bears took a beating at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champion, Seattle Seahawks, last Friday night. There is no getting around that fact. Seattle dominated the game in just about every aspect on its way to a 34-6 victory.
Since that time, there has been nothing but sheer panic setting in among Bears fans. Despite the fact that the preseason means absolutely nothing, it appears that most fans have now written off this team and this season because of a meaningless game in August.
That certainly seems logical, doesn't it?
Just to be clear, there is absolutely no doubt that the Bears need to improve before the regular season gets underway, and most notably they need to improve defensively. The game against Seattle definitely exposed several issues on the defensive side of the ball—I don't think anyone will deny that.
I saw the same game that everyone else did Friday night. The Bears defense looked like it was a step behind all night and just couldn't get off the field while the offense looked solid but couldn't finish a drive. However, I'm not quite ready to write off the entire season because of this.
Yes, the Bears didn't look anything like a team ready to make a run at the playoffs, but is it crazy to consider that Seattle may just be really good?
After all, it did just win the Super Bowl. You're talking about an offense led by one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson along with a healthy Percy Harvin at wideout, Marshawn Lynch in the backfield and the top defense in the league. This team has some talent. And it just happens to have one of the best, if not the best, home-field advantages in the league as well.
The Seahawks handled the Bears defense all night long with Wilson breaking contain and finding guys wide open down the middle of the field. They also ran a lot of misdirection that left the Bears over-pursuing, which created huge gaps in the defense.
This led to the Seattle starters converting all eight of their third down conversions and going 4-of-4 in red-zone scoring. These are obviously glaring numbers for a defense that was hoping to be much improved this season. At the same time, it is a defense that has several new faces, so it seems logical that it may take some time to gel.
670 The Score columnist Dan Durkin stated that he felt the most glaring difference between the two teams was the team speed and that Seattle overwhelmed the Bears with its speed.
If you watched the game, it's hard to argue with Durkin's assessment. However, it's easy to fall into the trap that many fans seem to have done, which is the feeling that the Bears defense is now "old and slow" after one bad preseason game.
Veterans Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are two of the elder statesmen on the Bears defense that have seemed to draw the wrath of fans for being old and slow. Briggs certainly didn't have his best game Friday and was beaten on several occasions.
But the truth is that he has never been fast, and his game has never been built on speed. He's going to get beat at times, but the guy is also going to make plays.
Tillman was also beaten on a couple of occasions and once for a touchdown, but in the case of the touchdown, he had blanket coverage and Wilson made a perfect throw. You win some, you lose some. But getting beat doesn't always mean that a guy can't play anymore.
The truth is that the defense clearly needs to be better, and the hope is that it will be. However, I'll say it again: A bad loss against the defending Super Bowl champions in one of the toughest places in the league to play in the middle of August doesn't necessarily mean it's time to pack it in.
ESPN Chicago hosts Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic discussed the topic on their August 25 morning radio show and pretty much reaffirmed my thoughts: The preseason does not matter.
Jurkovic (a nine-year NFL veteran) was adamant about his feelings that preseason football means absolutely nothing and that Bears fans need to calm down. He made the point that veterans do not care about preseason football and are just trying to make it through healthy.
He also stated that the outcome of preseason games has no bearing on what will happen in the regular season but that it's hard for fans to see that.
Jurkovic didn't completely dismiss the fact the Bears didn't play well, particularly defensively, but he refused to read too much into it because it was a preseason game. He made the point that once the regular season begins and teams start scheming for each game individually, then you can critique them more effectively.
So is there cause for concern? Yes, I think that's fair to say after that performance. Is it time to pack it in for the season? Absolutely not since there aren't any championships won or lost in August.
Head coach Marc Trestman acknowledged the fact that his team must use the game against Seattle as a learning experience and get better.
He stated to the Chicago Tribune (subscription required) that "clearly, we lost the game in all three phases" but added that he and the coaching staff feel that everything is correctable. That remains to be seen because if the problem is indeed that it lacks team speed, you can't teach that.
With less than two weeks remaining until the beginning of the regular season, the Bears have some work to do, and I don't think anyone will argue against that. However, I caution Bears fans to be careful how much they read into a preseason game.
When September 7 arrives and the Bears take the field against the Buffalo Bills, the games will count.
And then the worrying can commence.