All right, Bears fans, it’s time to hold your breath.
Well, you don’t have to hold it all week, but you can start that inhale at about 7 p.m. Friday night. That’s about when the Bears’ first-string offense will take the field against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, who boast one of, if not the best defensive line and pass rush in the NFL.
You know, the defensive line that harassed the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady en route to a Super Bowl title last season?
Or, closer to home, the pass rush that sacked Jay Cutler nine times two seasons ago — at the very same place this preseason game will play out — and knocked him out of the game with a concussion.
The NFL schedule-makers must be Packers fans to have the audacity to assign the Giants to the Bears on the third weekend of the preseason. Game 3 of the preseason schedule — as every NFL fan must know by now — is the only one of the four on the docket that is treated like a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Starters play into the second half, teams game plan, there are blitzes and defenders go full speed …
The Bears are still having issues sorting out their personnel up front, and I have visions of J’Marcus Webb doing his best matador impression and sidestepping the oncoming bull rush of a Giants defensive lineman who has a bulls-eye set on Cutler’s backside.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice recently said, “I have trouble sleeping at night until I know that our quarterback is protected.”
He’s not alone. Every Bears fan in the country will be nervously watching the scoreboard clock, anxiously counting the seconds until the starters vacate the game in the third quarter. If I were Tice, though, I’d take out Cutler much sooner before the Giants take him out.
For you see, nothing good can come from Friday’s game. One could make the argument that that statement holds true about all preseason games. But they are necessary for getting players back into game shape and adjusting to the speed of the game.
This upcoming Giants game, though, does not have good attached to it. Nothing but bad can come from it, hence, it isn’t even “make or break” — it’s just break. Imagine the worst-case scenario in which a fearsome barrage of blue jerseys attack Cutler from every which way and leave him collapsed on the turf in a heap, lost for the season with a broken leg, a fractured pelvis, or a dislocated brain. All of this training camp and preseason optimism of a Super Bowl season would be gone in an instant on a meaningless Friday night in August.
Fortunately for Cutler, Tice seems genuinely concerned about his quarterback’s health, whereas his predecessor, Mike Martz, has never seemed to care that his quarterbacks were routinely among the most sacked in the game.
Here’s hoping Tice calls more run plays than passing ones, and that if Cutler does drop back to pass, it’s three steps and release.