If Bears can learn from blowout loss, then it was worthwhile
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter August 24, 2014 8:08PM
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 22: Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes for a touchdown against linebacker Shea McClellin #50 of the Chicago Bears at CenturyLink Field on August 22, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 501565953
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If only the Bears had played the Oakland Raiders again in the third preseason game, things might look a little brighter around here.
Or maybe not. A year ago, everybody knew the Bears’ pounding of the Raiders in the third preseason game wasn’t all it appeared to be. The Bears were up 17-0 after one quarter and 27-3 at halftime on the road. They gained 252 yards in the first half, 110 of them on the ground, and held the Raiders to 0-for-6 on third-down conversions.
In the same way, the Bears’ 34-6 debacle Friday against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field doesn’t change their prospects for 2014 one bit. If the Bears stay healthy, they’ll be a playoff contender — and possibly more. If they don’t, they’re in trouble — like almost every other NFL team.
As poorly as the Bears played Friday, they are better off playing a preseason game against the Seahawks than the woebegone Raiders every time. As painful as it might be, facing the Seahawks is the ultimate proving ground because coach Pete Carroll is a master at preparing and motivating a team to play at a different level than everybody else — and never more than when he has the horses.
It’s a butt-kicking you need to take. In the last three seasons under Carroll, the Seahawks are 10-1 in the preseason. They have outscored opponents 323-121, including 179-53 in the first half. How far ahead of the pack are they? The Seahawks’ point differential of plus-202 during that span is nearly 100 points better than the next-best team (the Redskins, who are a fluky 9-2 with a plus-104 differential). Nobody else is even close to being close.
The good news is that it’s never as bad as it looks. The Seahawks beat the San Diego Chargers 31-10, Denver Broncos 40-10 and Green Bay Packers 17-10 in the preseason last year, and all three opponents made the playoffs.
The Seahawks are kind of a correction every team needs. Last year, the San Francisco 49ers beat the Packers in the regular-season opener, then were pounded by the Seahawks 29-3 the next week. The 49ers recovered to beat the Seahawks at home in the regular-season rematch and reached the NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field — and should have won the game.
The point is that getting your butt kicked by the Seahawks can be a good thing, provided you learn well. That’s the challenge for the Bears this season. Will Shea McClellin get sucked out of position against every team? Is Lance Briggs suddenly slow, or did Russell Wilson and the Seahawks make him look slow? Even Alshon Jeffery probably learned a little bit about what it takes to make big plays against really good defenses.
The Bears either played the wrong team at the wrong time or the right team at the right time. Thanks to the Seahawks, the Bears know there’s more work to do than they might have thought.
‘‘Absolutely,’’ cornerback Tim Jennings said. ‘‘Any time you give up that many points and they’re scoring every drive, there’s a lot more work we’ve got to get done. Everybody’s going to have to re-evaluate it. But it’s no panic right now.
‘‘You’ve got to tip your hat to them. They’re where they want to be right now . . . and we [aren’t]. There are some things we’ve got to clean up and get back to the drawing board and get ready for Cleveland. It’s discouraging that we couldn’t get off the field on third down and they scored every time. At the same time, we can learn from it.’’