Bears’ flop at Seattle is reason to be afraid
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist August 23, 2014 1:33AM
Updated: September 26, 2014 1:09PM
SEATTLE — You hate to make any sweeping judgments off the Bears’ preseason game Friday night because the Seattle Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champions and Russell Wilson can make any defense look bad, but . . . OH, MY GOD!!!
The wide-open Seahawks receivers! The out-of-position Bears defenders! The stupid penalties! The horror!
OK, I feel better for venting. Actually, no, I don’t.
The Bears will tell you their first-team defense is a work in progress, but when you think about it, so is a compost heap. That’s how bad the ‘‘revamped’’ ‘‘D’’ looked Friday night in a 34-6 loss to the Seahawks. It looked so bad that it looked exactly like the 2013 defense, which gave up yards and touchdowns as if they were handbills.
Again, you don’t want to make too much of this. On the other hand, good Lord! Friday night was a very good test for the Bears, and they flunked it, badly.
In the first half, the Seahawks were 7-for-7 on third-down conversions and had 250 yards of offense against the Bears’ first-team defense. In that span, Wilson completed 13 of 17 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns and had a passer rating of 147.7. The Seahawks led 31-0.
But other than that.
Linebacker Jon Bostic looked badly out of position in coverage.
Cornerback Tim Jennings got fooled by Percy Harvin on a second-quarter cut, and the result was a 25-yard gain and, one suspects, a lost jockstrap.
Charles Tillman got beat for a touchdown in the second quarter to make it 21-0. Shea McClellin continued to look position-less.
There really was nowhere to hide for the Bears.
The offense wasn’t much to write home about, either, but here I am, writing home about it. A Brandon Marshall penalty wiped out a Bears touchdown late in the second quarter, Jay Cutler was intercepted on the next play at the Seahawks’ 2-yard line and Seattle got three points out of it on a 59-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka.
Bears coach Marc Trestman said it all was ‘‘fixable.’’
‘‘I think we’ve got to take it all in perspective, and I think our team does,’’ he said. ‘‘I think we’re humble enough to know that we’ve got work to do, that what we saw out there is correctable.’’
This was the third preseason game, the dress rehearsal for the real season, the contest in which the starters play big minutes. Of the four meaningless preseason games, the third one is the least meaningless, which I suppose is like being the tallest Chihuahua. If you think the exhibition season is important, I would point you in the direction of the 1985 Bears, who had a 1-3 preseason record. In Chicago, you can end any debate by citing the ’85 Bears.
‘‘I’ve been on a Bears team that lost every preseason game [in 2010] and had everybody bearing down on us saying, ‘This is going to be a bad season,’ and we went to the NFC Championship,’’ linebacker Lance Briggs said. ‘‘It’s training tape.’’
But still. Who expected Friday night?
You wanted to see progress. That wasn’t asking so much, was it? Something to hold on to. Something to build on against a great team in the din of CenturyLink Field, which makes up for in noise what it lacks in naming-rights charm.
You could feel the city of Chicago’s panic all the way from here. The playoff aspirations looked very, very far off from the vantage point of an awful performance.
For the Bears to be in the postseason conversation this season, they need their defense to be adequate. Not even good. Just adequate. The offense will do its thing under Professor Trestman, but it’s a fact that NFL teams cannot live on offense alone.
Lots of Bears fans probably are thinking it’s never too early to restart the Fire Mel Tucker movement, but unless the defensive coordinator had a hand in telling a veteran such as Jennings how to be embarrassed on a missed tackle, I’m not sure what he could have done Friday. And if you allow your imagination to get too carried away, you’ll get very frightened at the possibility the defensive personnel are not much better this season.
Wilson sliced up the Bears, doing whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. That should scare the bejabbers out of the Bears and their fans. The regular-season schedule includes quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Rodgers (twice), Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Come to think of it, feel free to panic, everyone.