The Chicago Bears, winless in their first two preseason games hosted the Arizona Cardinals, 1-1 in their preseason before this game and a team in a state of flux with a quarterback controversy hanging over their heads and the Bears lost for the third time 14-9.
Hoping to make some progress on both sides of the ball, the Bears went into this game to establish continuity on both the offensive and defensive lines as well as get their offense (quarterback and wide receivers) into a rhythm.
However, it appeared as if, for the most part, the team regressed even further from their performance last week (against the Oakland Raiders) in terms of quarterback protection. This will be of major concern to the Bears as they head into the regular season.
Now the biggest question is can they get their issues fixed.
The first score in this game came in the second quarter after wide receiver Stephen Williams grabbed a 27-yard pass from Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson to put the Cardinals up by seven. Arizona would get on the scoreboard again in the third quarter following a 13 yard touchdown pass to Steve Breaston from quarterback Matt Leinert to make it 14-0.
Chicago kicker Robbie Gould got the Bears first points of the game in the fourth quarter after he booted a 22 yard field goal to make it 14-3. Third string quarterback Dan LeFevour helped the Bears pull closer to the Cardinals after he threw a three yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias to make it 14-9 (the two point conversion failed).
The Bears could not mount a comeback as time ran out and the Cardinals beat the Bears 14-9.
Stud of the Game
The unit that played the best in this game was the Bears starting defensive line. We had been talking since the start of preseason about the defensive line getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and although there were a couple breakdowns, for the most part, the defensive line played pretty well.
There were several “almosts” in this game for the defensive line (almosts being that they almost got to Arizona quarterbacks for a sack) but overall their pass pressure helped keep the Cardinals from gaining a lot of yards through the air. Julius Peppers has looked like the “real deal” more and more as the preseason has gone on and with a little more fine tuning this group should have a great season in 2010.
Dud of the Game
The offensive line AND quarterback Jay Cutler get this honor this week. Granted, the offensive line did look a little bit better this week but they still allowed Cutler to get sacked three times, get hurried and get hit several times. Cutler even appears as if he was injured as he finished out his time in the lineup during the game. If things keep up like this, Cutler won’t last that long this season.
So why is Cutler part of this dubious honor this week? His two interceptions thrown during this game make us hope that he isn’t reverting back to the way that things were for him last season. After not throwing a pick all preseason, Cutler’s two in this game reminded us of the horror that we saw last year (with his interceptions) and we hope that he doesn’t have a repeat performance.
What went Right
The running game had some good moments in this game and the run blocking looks pretty good. The Bears offensive linemen are very athletic and very fast and that suits them well in run blocking but they are pretty weak in pass blocking. When Cutler was able to connect with his wide receivers things looked pretty good.
On defense, the pass rush was a plus as was the run defense for the most part. The Bears got good up field penetration during passing plays and hurried or touched the quarterback several times during the game. If they could have finished off a couple of those pass pressure situations with some sacks then this group would have looked very impressive.
The safeties, in particular Chris Harris and Danieal Manning, had a pretty good game and made the secondary look pretty good. Hopefully they can continue to keep this up in the regular season.
What went Wrong
Several things went wrong in this game in several different places. Of course, the offensive line was one area that struggled (especially offensive tackle Chris Williams) and they allowed Cutler to be sacked three times. They have to work on their pass protection a lot in order for the Bears to have any success passing the ball this offseason. Hopefully they can get these problems worked out before the season starts.
The Bears offensive ineptitude left the defensive unit hurting in terms of having to defend a Cardinals team that had pretty good field position as a result. The defense did pretty well however in keeping the Cardinals out of the end zone (and out of field goal range) for the most part.
There were some problems on special teams once again in this game especially with two missed field goals. Granted, on was blocked but Gould did miss another field goal. Coverage was decent enough but punt return teams struggled at times getting the opposing team blocked so that they could set up a return. This is yet another thing that has to be worked on before the season starts.
There were two key injuries during this game. The first happened when linebacker Lance Briggs went out with an ankle injury. The word on that injury (as of right now) is that his ankle will be find by the time the Bears play their first regular season game against the Detroit Lions in a couple of weeks so there is no fear that he will be ready.
Fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou sprained his knee during the contest and will be out for a short amount of time (including their next and last preseason game). This will hurt his chances of making the final roster and may open the door for Eddie Williams to be the Bear’s fullback.
A few of the players to miss the game due to injuries include quarterback Caleb Hanie, safeties Josh Bullocks (quad), Craig Steltz (ankle), and Major Wright (finger), and wide receiver Earl Bennett (hamstring).
The Bears will travel to Cleveland to take on the Cleveland Browns in their last preseason game. It is expected that the starters will play little if at all in this game as they will take a closer look at the second and third string players on their team.
Look for a full preview of this game later on in the week.