By Carlos Nazario
The Chicago Bears played the New York Giants in their second preseason game of the year, and it was not pretty. They struggled in all three phases of the game in a 41-13 loss at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
On offense, the receivers had a difficult time hanging onto the ball, as Roy Williams dropped two third down passes and Devin Hester dropped a pass that cost the Bears a touchdown. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor, the starting running backs combined for 7 carries and 14 yards.
On their first scoring drive, Hester pulled in a 37 yard bomb from Cutler, but his footwork was bad and he went out of bounds when he had a shot at running it for a possible touchdown. Jay Cutler then completed a 42 yard screen pass to Forte that took the Bears into the red zone. Hester then tripped and fell on a pass near the end zone that could also have been taken in for a score. To conclude Hester’s trilogy of horror on the drive, he dropped a pass in the end zone. The Bears had to settle for a field goal to tie the game at three.
In the second quarter, the Bears had another drive going. Cutler completed a pass to Bennett for 32 yards which put them in the red zone again, but a holding penalty against tight end Kellen Davis led to a stalled drive and the Bears again settled for a field goal, putting the score at 13-6. That was it for the scoring until Khalil Bell’s one yard run that made it 41-13.
On the positive note for the offense, the offensive line really impressed. The quarterbacks dropped back 50 times in the game, but were sacked only once. This was completely different from the first game, in which the line allowed nine sacks. Both Cutler and Caleb Hanie had time to throw, and this is a huge positive. The last time the Bears went into the New Meadowlands, Cutler was sacked nine times in a half and was knocked out with a concussion. Also, Marion Barber had another good game, rushing for 49 yards on 13 carries. The Bears did not rush much, possibly so the coaching staff could see how good the offensive line is getting.
On defense, there were a lot of missed tackles and missed assignments that led to big gains and touchdowns. Major Wright looked particularly bad on a Brandon Jacobs touchdown run that prompted ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico to exclaim “Can somebody pick up Major Wright’s jock?” Don’t think this is something family friendly ESPN wanted on the air, but it sure described how bad Wright looked on the play.
To be fair, the Bears were without Lance Briggs, who was held out because of a minor knee pain, and Brian Urlacher, who only played in three series. Not having those two Pro Bowlers can make life more difficult for the other players.
What was really hard to swallow was the Bears special teams play. The Jacobs touchdown was set up by 73 yard Devin Thomas kickoff return. Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett could not get the Bears past the 20 on their returns for most of the first half. The Giants also blocked a punt and took it to the three yard line which set up yet another touchdown. This was unusually bad for a Bears special teams unit that ranks among the best in the league.
All that can be said of this debacle is that it is only a preseason game. The Bears went pass heavy and the running game was not used to help set up the pass. They also had key players out so that backups could get some work in, so I would not put too much stock in this game. Just be grateful that no Bears player was seriously hurt like Corey Wooten was last week.