If you’re a glass-is-half-empty kind of fan or if your patience is wearing thin, if you’re a nitpicker or one who demands perfection, or if you’re simply waiting for the Bears to fail so you can see a complete overhaul of the Bears’ organization, then this Saturday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals is your battlefield. Get your bayonets sharpened and prepare to storm the field.
Saturday’s game represents a dress rehearsal for the regular season where the starters will play into the third quarter. While Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli will still have vanilla game plans, this presents the Bears with the best opportunity to see where they stand in preparation for the regular season.
The Bears will have an opportunity to make in-game adjustments and correct any mistakes they may make at the beginning of the game. Last week against Oakland, they had that same opportunity and were able to reclaim the lead before halftime after a slow start to the game. This week, however, we’ll get to see how they’ll perform coming out of halftime and whether they can come back or extend their lead based on the momentum of the game.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they find themselves in a no-win situation regardless of how they perform against the Cardinals. After failing to make the playoffs for three straight years, and after struggling through the first two preseason games, patience is as thin as a sheet of paper. Anything less that flawless execution will be met with skepticism about the regular season. And even if the Bears do perform well on the field, it’ll be brushed off as expected against a Cardinals team that is similarly floundering.
After all, with Thursday’s news that Derek Anderson will get the start at quarterback over Matt Leinart, there’ll be no excuse for the defense if he shreds them up and down the field. Anderson is a poor quarterback with a modest receiving corps, now that Larry Fitzgerald is sidelined with an injury and Anquan Boldin is in Baltimore.
On the offensive side of the ball, the line will be under the microscope, particularly Chris Williams. In Game 1 against the Chargers, the Bears adequately protected Jay Cutler but couldn’t run block. In Game 2 against the Raiders, the situation was reversed as Cutler was sacked five times, four from Williams’ side. They need to put together a solid effort while opening running lanes for Matt Forte and keeping Cutler upright. Anything less than near perfection will be pounced on by critics.
The Cardinals are far from the version that went to the Super Bowl two seasons ago and are heading in the wrong direction. The Bears are supposed to be going in the opposite direction. If they don’t have the lead by the time the starters leave the game, there won’t just be a third preseason loss, there will be further loss of confidence in the team from anyone outside Halas Hall.
And the sardonic Chicago media — and those select negative Bears fans — will have their day.