Notes from Bears-Titans preseason Game 3August 28th, 2011 - 10:19 pm
The following are a few observations and thoughts I took away from the Bearsâ€™ preseason game against the Titans on Saturday.
-Depth at cornerback continues to be an issue as evidenced by the play of D.J. Moore this preseason. Moore played well at nickelback last season but if he ever had to slide over to corner, the Bears would be in trouble. Likewise, Zack Bowman struggled against the Titans. The first two pass plays of the second half went to his side and his poor coverage left him unable to defend them.
-Roy Williams is making strides, but he’s still probably a ways away from producing at a level at which Bears management and coaches were hoping he could. As I noted in a previous entry, Williams is just another body at receiver with good talent that can help upgrade the position. He’s not the No. 1 receiver that fans were hoping for, but he can help as long as he improves his conditioning and concentration.
-Lance Louis showed why the Bears are hoping that he can develop into the player they envisioned when they drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. He shows good versatility when on the move due to his time spent as a tight end in college. Against the Titans, he pulled and was the lead blocker for Matt Forte on a sweep to the outside that netted 10 yards.
-Preseason is a good time for coaches to get ready for the regular season, too. Lovie Smith challenged a no-catch by Johnny Knox and the call on the field stood. Smith has never been good at challenges.
-Earl Bennett had a good performance against the Titans catching 6 passes for 89 yards and is further making the case that he’s the best receiver on the team. With all the fanfare over the speedsters Knox and Devin Hester, and with the addition of Williams, Bennett has kind of been the forgotten man. But it’s clear Cutler is the most comfortable with him and Bennett’s hands have been quite reliable.
-While nothing is guaranteed, Dane Sanzenbacher appears to have solidified a spot on the roster. The last time Cutler vouched for somebody, the Bears kept Devin Aromashodu on the roster and they entered the season with six receivers. Sanzenbacher seems to have reliable hands — minus the one drop he had against the Titans — and it’s clear that he can have a role on this team.
-Cutler is doing a good job of getting rid of the ball in the face of pressure. It’s clear that the weight loss is a major factor, but I also think he’s more comfortable in the system this year. With a offensive line that is still trying to jell, it’s a good thing he’s mobile in the pocket.
-The defense is exactly what we expected it to be. They’re going to be good against the run because of their speed and athleticism but their scheme is geared toward giving up large chunks of yardage through the air. Ultimately, it’s the points they surrender that we have to worry about, and if they stay healthy, they should be good in that area.
-Marion Barber suffered a calf injury and did not return to the game. It’s concerning because Chester Taylor did not play against the Titans and he appears to be out of the Bears’ plans. Although Kahlil Bell has shown flashes in the preseason, I wouldn’t count on him to be the primary backup if Barber got hurt in the regular season.
-Forte finally was able to get into a rhythm running the football this preseason. He had 74 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, which is more rushing attempts than he had all of last preseason and it would be an ideal number of carries per game in the regular season, assuming the Bears were having success throwing the football.
-Robbie Gould missed his fourth field goal in three games and it’s starting to become a cause for concern. It’s understandable that with the departure of Brad Maynard, Gould has a new holder. But the learning curve should be the first portion of training camp, not a month after it began.