With Lovie Smith’s future hanging in the balance, it did not surprise anyone when it was announced prior to the game that quarterback Jay Cutler would not take any snaps in the Bears’ preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns. Despite the struggles the offense has endured throughout the first three games of the preseason, risking Cutler to injury was just not worth it.
With Cutler on the sideline, the Bears were able to get an extended look at backup quarterback — and recently added — Todd Collins. The result was a strengthened belief that Collins could step in and keep the offense afloat if Cutler were to suffer an injury during the regular season. Collins completed 10 of 15 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown for a 118.5 passer rating. He also connected with Greg Olsen for a 15-yard touchdown pass on a well-timed throw.
It seems the only wrinkle in Collins’ performance was a miscommunication between him and backup center Josh Beekman on a shotgun snap. With the play clock winding down, Collins looked away and was about to call timeout when Beekman snapped the ball and the Browns recovered the fumble. They scored their lone touchdown of the game following the turnover.
There wasn’t much else to gauge in the final preseason contest as only a few roster positions were up for grabs and several key starters, like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte and Olin Kreutz, sat out the game. Rookie quarterback Dan LeFevour, who is destined for the practice squad if he’s not picked up by another team, completed 4 of 9 passes for 44 yards. Kahlil Bell continued to separate himself from Garrett Wolfe on the running back depth chart when he rushed for 32 yards on 12 carries, hardly a flashy result but certainly a strong effort from him.
Juaquin Iglesias continued to vie for a roster spot with a big, 39-yard reception. Rashied Davis, also on the bubble, looked as though he may have locked up a roster spot while leading the team with 65 yards on 3 catches. Chester Taylor started the game at running back and he had 23 yards on 4 carries while also catching two passes for 12 yards.
On defense, Kevin Malast led the team in tackles and Henry Melton also had a solid game with seven tackles and a few quarterback pressures as he tries to make the final cut. Aaron Webster, whom the Bears picked up a few weeks ago, had an interception on a deflected pass.
The Bears finished the preseason winless for only the fourth time in franchise history. The last time they did that was in 1998 during Dave Wannstedt’s final season as head coach. While the record attained during the preseason has no bearing on what type of regular season the team has, the Bears certainly didn’t pass the “eye test” during these practice games. There were plenty of things to be concerned about, most notably the offensive line — both pass protection and run blocking — as well as the secondary and the inability to stop anybody in third and long situations.
The Bears have a week and a few days to prepare for the season opener against the Lions and they’ll need every minute of it to right the wrongs we witnessed in the preseason. With the tough schedule the Bears have to open the season — which includes games against Dallas, Green Bay, and the Giants — the Bears can ill afford to give up a game to the Lions.