CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 13: Roy Williams #11 of the Chicago Bears gets ready for warm-ups before a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field on August 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Bears WR group finds them self in a similar situation to the offensive line coming into the Monday Night game against the Giants; all eyes will be on them as they go into this dress rehearsal game against the Titans. Just like the line, the QB and WR's need to start gelling together by the start of the regular season. Reason for this is the Bears face a tough first 3 games of the season against the Falcons, Saints, and Packers; 3 teams that can move the ball and put points on the board. If the Bears want to survive that rough stretch the offense, specifically the passing offense, has to pull their weight to help out the defense and special teams. It's not impossible that the Bears defense, running game, and special teams will be enough to get past that tough three weeks, but just imagine if the passing game found a comfortable rhythm to go along with those already solid aspects of the Bears team.
On Saturday night, Bears fans should pay close attention to the passing game. It was an alright outing for them against the Giants on Monday Night, but they need to take another big step forward. Here are some parts in the passing game that will be under magnifying glass Saturday Night in Nashville...
The starting WR's Roy Williams and Devin Hester need to bring it to another level
Hester had an alright game from a route running standpoint, and you saw why OC Mike Martz and WR Coach Daryl Drake are comfortable with him at the Flanker position in the offense. Saying all of that, he needs to take advantages of opportunities in front of him on the field. Monday he made some solid plays, but at the same time he left some extra yards and points on the field. Williams play Monday night was disturbing considering he's a vet playing the very important Split End position in Martz offense. What was more disturbing was his lack of accountability when reporters met with him yesterday. In my opinion, he came off as a guy who thinks there isn't a guy behind him on the depth chart that's a threat to take his spot. That's why it was great to read and hear the comments of Daryl Drake yesterday on Roy Williams play...
"Believe you me, Roy understands that Johnny's there," Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "Johnny's hungry and Johnny wants his spot back.
"If things don't start changing, then Johnny's going to be in there. That's straight from the horse's mouth."
You have to like how Daryl Drake put the pressure on Williams yesterday. That might just be the thing that motivates Williams knowing that there's a receiver that's just as talented behind him in Johnny Knox and the coaching staff won't be hesitant to move him back into the starting spot if Williams doesn't improve. Williams is a tremendous talent at 6-3 215 pounds and if he plays up to his potential, it makes the passing game so much deeper and better.
Which leads to my next question...
Will Johnny Knox keep playing like he wants his starting job back?
Because If he's does it only helps this offense. Knox, whether he's the starting X receiver or a back-up, will see plenty of time in the passing game this year. Martz's scheme is known for its 3 and 4 WR sets and you will see plenty of it this season if the protection allows it. Knox's skill-set is a perfect match for an offense that loves to attack vertically. Look for Knox on Saturday to keep playing hard to get his spot back in this offense.
Bennett became Cutler's most reliable target last season and they picked up where they left off from 2010 this past Monday night. Bennett compiled 3 catches for 48 yards and displayed the type of awareness on hot routes that made him Jay's favorite target. Expect that connection to continue Saturday night against the Titans. Another guy that is starting to build a good connection with Jay on the field is undrafted FA Dane Sanzenbacher. Jay singled him out yesterday when he spoke to the media.
"He's impressive," Jay Cutler said Wednesday. "He ran with us early in camp. Once we put in a lot of stuff, you can tell he was swimming a little bit, thinking a little bit.
"I think once we get this week kind of hammered down and get all the details to him, I think he's going to be fine."
Cutler completed a team-high four passes to the former Ohio State star on Monday.
"He's going to be a guy I think we're going to use a lot -- hopefully," Cutler said.
It almost seems like it is Dane's roster spot to lose. Receivers Kris Adams and Onrea Jones have been impressive in camp also, but they haven't received the kind of praise from the franchise QB like Dane has through camp. Dane should be able to wrap up a roster spot Saturday night with another good performance in preseason.
Yes my focus will also be on the Offensive Line Saturday night, but I will certainly be focused on the Bears WR's. It's time for that group to take another step in this offense, and why not start in this 3rd preseason game against the Titans.