It would be a bit of an understatement to say that last Thursday's preseason loss to the Denver Broncos was a disappointment. The offense never really got going and the defense allowed 31 points. We keep hearing how well the Bears are performing in training camp, but that wasn't really demonstrated against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
As Chicago heads back to training camp to try and iron out the problems, what do they need to do to make sure their practice performances translate into a game time situation?
Of course, practice situations differ greatly to a competitive game against another team. In training camp, players won't be going full blast, and plays rarely finish as they would in the real world.
You could make the argument that against Denver, the Bears were without many of the best players on the team. Cutler, Forte, Peppers and Urlacher all sat out the game, but for me that's no real excuse for the team's performance. The players that did take the field are all pro football players, are they not? And they are all football players of a very good standard. Jason Campbell is very competent, and Michael Bush could well be a starter on many NFL teams.
The fact is that the Bears quarterbacks combined for a grand total of 96 yards passing and the running backs racked up just 36 yards on the ground, compared to Denver's 156 yards.That just isn't good enough, preseason or not.
The debate still rages on surrounding the play of left tackle J'Marcus Webb. On NFL Gamepass, you can watch every match condensed down into about 30 minutes, where they show every play of the game. I watched every play and focused solely on Webb. Although I don't think he made any glaring errors, to me, he looks sluggish, slightly overweight, and scared of any kind of speed rush. That just won't cut it when facing some of the league's elite pass rushers. Chicago have said that they are taking a closer look at Chris Williams at left tackle, and I expect to see him a lot more in the next game against Washington.
I think I would be among the many who felt good about the performances of Bears rookies Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery. Defensive end McClellin looked fast and agile and he registered a crowd pleasing sack on former Bears QB Caleb Hanie. Jeffery perhaps had the best performance of the night, leading the team with four receptions for 35 yards. I definitely liked what I saw, and hope that both McClellin and Jeffery continue to show that they can make a positive difference this year.
As we keep reminding ourselves, or being reminded by others, this was 'just' a preseason game, and it was the first one at that, but the play calling left much to be desired. I don't like the phrase 'vanilla' when used to describe play calling and/or performance. The fans didn't pay their money to see a lacklustre demonstration of how to play football. And that's what we got last Thursday. I'd like to see more of a dynamic approach to play calling. Let's air the ball out a little bit more. We have these receivers that we are so excited about; let's utilize them.
I think things will improve. Let's be honest, they have to get better. I am positive about the next game against Washington. I think we see Cutler and Forte take to the field, and that will give us a good impression of what our offense will look like heading into the regular season.
So, if practice makes perfect but nobody is perfect, then why practice? But the Bear's better practice, and make sure they put in a much better display against Washington, otherwise some more serious questions will have to be asked.