Tune-Up No. 2: The Chicago Bears Take On the Oakland Raiders
Last Saturday’s game didn’t tell us much about the Bears’ starters, particularly the offense. With Jay Cutler only hanging around for one series and the rest of the number ones not hanging around much longer, it was hard to gauge exactly where this Bears’ team is at.
We could have a better idea of what to expect after the second preseason game against Oakland.
What kind of team will that be? Here’s what I’m hoping for:
Better Run Blocking
Overall, I thought the pass protection was pretty good up front, particularly when Cutler was in the game. They picked up blitzes well on the line (It was a RB’s missed block that got Cutler sacked). The running game, however, never had a chance to get started. It seemed like Forte spent all of his time running into the backs of his linemen in search for a lane. Against a terrible Raiders team, that needs to change.
More Big Plays By the Receivers
Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu each stepped up with big plays last Saturday, the kind of plays the Bears will need to succeed in 2010. With Earl Bennett expected to play this week, the Chicago receiving core needs to make more things happen.
Devin Hester should also be a target a few times. In front of a home crowd against the aforementioned awful Oakland squad, it’s time to for Martz’s boys to act on their coordinator's praise.
Pressure From a Four-Man Rush
Neither Julius Peppers nor Mark Anderson did much against the Chargers, and Phillip Rivers had more time to throw than defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would’ve liked. Tommie Harris didn’t cause any havoc up the middle, either.
It was particularly frustrating when Rivers had the time to pump fake safety Chris Harris, then fire a dart into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown, without any kind of pass rush in his face. Fix this.
It wasn’t awful in the first game, but there were enough key tackles missed to warrant this a focus point. The Lance Briggs whiff on Ryan Mathews deep in San Diego territory was one glaring mistake. The best way to turn a good defense into a great defense is to have the first man to the ball make the tackle—something the Bears haven’t done since 2006.
Improved Kickoff Coverage
Let me say that I have the utmost faith in special teams coach Dave Toub. He’s probably the best coach, in terms of performance, on the Bears’ staff. I also understand that the special teams units were probably being shuffled around in the first game, as the Bears try to find out which players are best suited for the special teams roles. But it’s not too much to ask to have your kickoff units make tackles before the opponents cross the 40-yard line, is it?
Take It to the Raiders
It’s no secret that the Raiders have been a terrible franchise the last few years. There’s not much reason to assume that they’re going to be improved in 2010.
If the Bears want to be the elite team they say they can be, why not prove it front of a home crowd? It would be great to see the Bears come out with a fierce intensity and dominate this game from the opening kick to the final tackle.
You could say, “It’s just a preseason game!” But when your coaching staff’s jobs are on the line and your team hasn’t been to the playoffs in three years, shouldn’t the team have a sense of urgency?
Let’s not wait for the regular season. Let’s see it on Saturday night.
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