Last week was a fairly interesting preseason game, all things considered. This week, the stakes are raised a little, as the first team should get a little more playing time and the coaches continue tinkering with roster combinations. The Bears were able to put the Eagles away last week; this week, they get a team that's hit 8-8 once in the last six seasons - the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last Season: That 8-8 season was not this past season, as the Jaguars finished 4-12.
This Season: Well, they're 1-0 in this preseason, after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rankings (as of 2013):
|Total Points||247 (32nd)||449 (28th)|
|Total Yards||4,701 (31st)||6,070 (27th)|
|Rushing Yards||1,260 (31st)||2,108 (29th)|
|Passing Yards||3,441 (22nd)||3,962 (25th)
Offense: The offense, as has usually been the case in Jacksonville, has been full of question marks. Their number one receiver and former first round draft pick Justin Blackmon was suspended for the entire year. Their quarterback battle is between Chad Henne and first round draft pick Blake Bortles. Toby Gerhart comes over from Minnesota for his first crack as the top running back after sitting behind Adrian Peterson. And their offensive line features a four-man battle for the center position.
However, that doesn't mean they don't have some pieces, and that includes high draft pick wide receiver Marqise Lee, second receiver Cecil Shorts, and tight end Marcedes Lewis. Both Henne and Bortles will get time on Thursday, Henne leading off and Bortles in the second half. Gerhart will make his preseason debut as well.
Then there's the acquisition of the preseason, as the Jaguars signed Fendi Onobun.
Defense: The defense, while it didn't exactly have spectacular results last year, does have some interesting pieces. New head coach Gus Bradley's brought over a couple of key players from Seattle, defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. Geno Hayes started 14 games for the Jaguars last year in his first year after playing with the Bears and has one of the starting spots again this year, next to middle linebacker Paul Posluszny. In the secondary, three of the four positions bring back the same starters, with last year's waiver claim Winston Guy getting the first crack at the free safety spot. Sherrod Martin was picked up after not playing in 2013 due to a knee injury, and incumbent safety Josh Evans sits third on the depth chart, after starting due to Dwight Lowery suffering a concussion.
Last Friday night had some very interesting developments, and this week should be no different. Here's some of what I'm looking to keep my eyes on on Thursday night.
1) Second Chance for Linebackers
So, the Bears' young linebackers in Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin weren't all that strong in their first preseason action last week. Maybe this week they can provide a bit larger of a sample size as things go on here.
2) Depth Chart Shakeups?
The depth chart took a couple of shakeups from Friday's game, if for nothing more than to give different looks or personnel groupings, but some players might be in position to jump up with some good showings. For instance, Jimmy Clausen will take the field first after Jay Cutler leaves, with Jordan Palmer following him. Martellus Bennett will take the field after missing the first preseason game, but how will the Bears use the guys behind him in Dante Rosario and Zach Miller after their games last week? And is the Bears' backfield set with Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn, and Ka'Deem Carey?
3) The Return of Chris Conte
Conte's return has so far seen him thrust back into the first team in a couple of different looks. How he's paired up in his first game action back will be interesting to see, as will his performance.
4) Defensive Line
Jared Allen returns for this one, but I'm also looking for what comes afterwards. Trevor Scott's played well in camp and in last week's game, and Austen Lane got some early time. Then there's last year's sixth round pick Cornelius Washington and waiver pickup David Bass. Additionally there's the continued development of Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, who should get some good looks against the interior of the Jaguars' line and Gerhart.
What are you looking for tomorrow night against the Jaguars?