Bears top Browns to finish preseason 3-1, but what do we really know about them?
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org August 30, 2012 10:18PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) hands off the ball to Armando Allen during the fourth quarter in a preseason NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:06PM
CLEVELAND — The Bears concluded the preseason Thursday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but only a handful of players who will make the 53-man roster appeared in a 28-20 victory.
Nary a starter played in the game, and neither did many key backups, such as quarterback Jason Campbell and defensive end Shea McClellin. So, in essence, the 42 players who appeared were competing for, very generously speaking, 16 roster spots that aren’t locked up.
And that doesn’t include waived players whom the Bears could pick up over the weekend.
“A lot of players in there won’t be with us anymore,” coach Lovie Smith said, “and I assume as a player going out, you don’t want to have any regrets. And you don’t have regrets if you say, ‘Hey, I played as well as I could the last time out,’ and I think most guys can say that tonight.”
The Bears finished the preseason 3-1, but what do we know about them?
The offense is still a mystery because new offensive coordinator Mike Tice dished out more vanilla than a corner ice cream shop. The preseason focus, instead, was for the offense to work on basics, which produced mixed results.
Not including the last painful drive of the first half against the New York Giants — when it was near the goal line trying to run out the clock — the offense faced starting defenses in 10 series. The Bears, with Jay Cutler as the quarterback, didn’t turn the ball over, scored three touchdowns, kicked one field goal but punted the ball away six times. They also had three three-and-outs.
Cutler threw for 218 yards but completed only 16 of 34 passes (47.1 percent). His passer rating was 77.8.
The offensive line still doesn’t inspire much confidence, although it did hold the Giants’ front four sack-less. The Bears haven’t made it official, but J’Marcus Webb doesn’t appear to have done anything to lose his starting left tackle spot to Chris Williams.
The most alarming aspect of the preseason for the offense was the lack of production from Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte. He ran the ball 14 times for 55 yards, an average of 3.9 yards per carry. But subtract his 24-yard scamper against the Giants’ backups at the start of the third quarter, and Forte’s average drops to an abysmal 2.3 yards.
While the pass-blocking has been somewhat encouraging, the run-blocking hasn’t, with neither Forte nor Michael Bush getting much daylight behind the starting line.
As for the No. 1 defense, it faced starting offenses on 12 drives, giving up two field goals and three touchdowns, including one after a blocked punt deep in Bears territory.
The defense forced six punts and generated two turnovers.
Without linebacker Brian Urlacher, the defense wasn’t a total mess, with Nick Roach capably filling in. But Urlacher has a knack for coming up with turnovers and making impact plays, which Roach didn’t do.
The broader concern might be the pass rush. There was scant pressure against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, with Eli Manning getting into a rhythm before he was shelved. He finished 17-for-21 for 148 yards with one TD pass and no turnovers.
One unheralded player who asserted himself was Cheta Ozougwu, Mr. Irrelevant in 2011, the last player drafted. He added his third sack in four games and just missed a fourth in the second quarter. The reserves actually applied adequate pressure with two sacks and six pressures.
Other players who stood out: quarterback Josh McCown (20-for-29 for 157 yards, two touchdowns), Armando Allen (83 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards, one forced fumble), Lorenzo Booker (15 carries, 81 yards), Dane Sanzenbacher (30-yard touchdown), linebacker Xavier Adibi (six tackles, one sack), safety Jeremy Jones (four tackles, one interception) and Ryan Quigley (three of his four punts inside the 20).