In the finale of week two in the NFL Preseason, the Chicago Bears travel to New York to face the Giants in a rematch of the embarrassing defeat they suffered last year. In the first half alone, the Bears gave up nine sacks and Jay Cutler left the game with a concussion. The offensive line of the Bears discombobulated and had no answer to the New York defense, especially defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi a who racked up 3 sacks each.
Even though this is the Preseason and the starters will be pulled before the end of the first half, there are still many areas in which you should pay attention. The Preseason is where players you have never heard of make a name for themselves and make or break their NFL hopes. So, without further ado, the 5 areas to watch out for in the Monday night encounter at The New Meadowlands Stadium.
The performance of the offensive line during week one of the Preseason didn't leave much optimism going into this week. After the Bears gave up 10 sacks in the previous meeting between the teams and gave up 9 sacks to the Buffalo Bills last week, it's easy to see why Bears fans may be worried about the health of Jay Cutler not only this week, but throughout the course of the NFL season.
With J'Marcus Webb saying he wasn't ready for the intensity of last week and Lance Louis proclaiming he was too aggressive, it will be important to see how both change their attitudes. Offensive line coach Mike Tice will not want to be embarrassed again and will be feeding his players motivation to make a stand, to prove they are not as bad as they media says.
Another area along the offensive line to look out for is the development of first round draft pick Gabe Carimi. Carimi had a solid outing against the Bills, however, he will be tested against the talented pass rushers of the Giants.
Roy Williams is exactly what Jay Cutler was asking for. A tall receiver who Cutler can throw the ball up and give him a chance to get it. With the Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox all either 6'0" or less, in comes Roy Williams standing at 6'3", he is a great target for Cutler to aim for. However, the chemistry between the two has been slow to develop. Williams had been lobbying for Cutler to throw him the ball more in practise, to which cutler replied by throwing Williams two touchdowns in the red zone drill in practise this week.
Williams didn't catch a pass in the first Preseason game but that was down to cutler being subbed out very early on. However, with Cutler projected to start for at least a couple of series, Williams should get a fair amount of targets, and it will be intriguing to see if the two can connect and build up a relationship.
The defensive line contains the most depth at any position for the Bears. With Corey Wootton suffering an injury in the Preseason opener, the door opens for Vernon Gholston to make an impact. Undrafted free agent Mario Addison has been making a lot of noise at training camp and will be under the spotlight of the Bears coaches to see if he can translate his good performances in practise into a game. Addison, who comes from the same university that produced Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware, will be looking to overtake former first round pick Gholston and stake his claim for a place on the Bears final roster.
Also on the defensive line, the defensive tackle rotation is bringing out the best in the players. With Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton, Anthony Adams, Amobi Okoye and rookie Stephen Paea all trying to make the most of the time they have on the field, it should make for a feisty competition.
What may have slipped through the cracks in the first week on Preseason action is that Kahlil Bell led the NFL in rushing. Bell will ultimately make this team on his special teams ability but if he continues to build on his strong performance against the Bills, he could find himself getting a few more carries than he expected.
Chester Taylor needs to prove to the Bears that he still has a role to play on the team. With his goal line carries seemingly being given to power back Marion Barber and his consistently poor rushing numbers, it would be easy to make a case for him to be cut. Taylor must find a niche for him to stay on the team as a serviceable backup.
Matt Forte, still without his contract extension, could use this game a way to make a point to the Bears hierarchy. A big performance by Forte could remind the Bears what they could be missing out of if they don't extend his contract and he chooses to leave at the end of the season. Now, that may seem unlikely but there are plenty of other teams who would be willing to pay Forte big money to make him their featured back.
Jim Jennings has got a hold of the cornerback job opposite Charles Tillman and it is his to lose. Jennings could use what action he sees in this game as a change to reiterate his case to start, with Zack Bowman, D.J. Moore and Joshua Moore all after the coveted starting job. Jennings is a smaller cornerback at 5'8" and will be lining up against the likes of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, both of which posses a high advantage over Moore.
Zack Bowman was the starter for the Bears at the start of last season and the Bears had huge hopes for him. they still do as a matter of fact. Bowman is a taller cornerback at 6'1" who would be better than Moore when it comes to playing to larger receivers Green Bay have to offer. However, to cover those receivers, Bowman has to stake his case and a good game against the Giants would go a long way to helping him regain the starting job