Saturday, August 25, 2012

Scouting the Bears

By Matt Bove

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sitting 10 rows from the field in the end zone for the Bears vs. Giants game yesterday. Those seats are great because you can see everything and anything. It was a less than inspiring performance from the Bears as the Bears lost the 1st half 17-7 when the starters played despite coming back to win 20-17. Here are some of my observations from the game:

- J'Marcus Webb and Chris Spencer seem like they will be the starters on the left side of the line as they played the first four series with the starters before giving way to Chris Williams and Chilo Rachal.

- The Bears did not allow Jay Cutler to be sacked, but it was just an average performance by the line. Cutler had to escape from a lot of pressure, which partially led to him being completing only 9-of-21 passes on the night. Jason Pierre-Paul did not play for the Giants but Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are still a dynamic pass rushing duo and they did a decent job on them. Webb received help a lot though dealing with Umenyiora.

- The Bears run blocking was absolutely brutal. Matt Forte rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries, which on the surface does not seem bad. However, 35 of those yards came on 2 plays in the first series of the 3rd quarter against the Giants' 2nd string defense. So in the first half against the first team defense Forte had 8 carries for 4 yards. The Bears line opened up no holes for him. This has been a problem for the Bears all preseason and unlike the Packers they want to be a balanced offense.

- At the other end of the spectrum the Bears run defense was almost as bad as their run offense. If Brian Urlacher has to miss any regular season time they will be in big trouble against the run. Replacement Nick Roach was blocked on consecutive runs of 20 and 15 yards by Giants rookie running back David Wilson. On those plays the Bears made tackling attempts that would have made the Packers defense from last season look good. Wilson rushed for 49 yards on five carries. The Giants were ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing and were missing starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, so it was not a good sign for the Bears that they had so much success.

- And as bad as the run defense was Charles Tillman was just as bad in coverage. Tillman got schooled by Giants scrub Ramses Barden especially. Barden, entering his 4th year with the Giants, has only 15 career receptions with a grand total of zero touchdowns. Yet against Tillman Barden drew a pass interference and scored a touchdown on an 11 yard slant. Tillman had 2 pass interference penalties on the night and recorded 10 tackles in the first half. When a corner back has that many tackles it usually means he is getting beat a lot. Tillman gets the benefit of the doubt because of his pro bowl season last year, but if he declines at all it would be a huge problem for the Bears.

- On the other hand Tim Jennings made a nice tackle on Wilson on a screen play and played perfect coverage the very next play on a 3rd and long. Jennings is usually a guy Aaron Rodgers likes to pick on.

- Julius Peppers showed his ability when he tackled Dominic Hixon for a loss of 13 on an end around play, but was otherwise quiet.

- Jay Cutler missed high on a lot of throws but his decision making was pretty good.

It was just a preseason game but the Bears looked pretty bad. I still think they will be the Packers' biggest competition in the division though.

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