Well, well, well. The Meadowlands. I remember you well. The stadium just outside the windows of my youth. The stadium where Jay Cutler was handed one of the worst beatings I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes. The Bears return to this house of horrors to complete their trio of meaningless contests before embarking on what many of us believe could be a special season in Chicago. (Yes I know there is a fourth preseason game to be played but that game makes college football spring games seem like the Super Bowl.)
Here is what might be of interest to you.
- J’Marcus Webb against a duo of attacking defenders (Tuck, Umenyiora) has been written to death. It’ll be the focal point of the broadcasting team tomorrow evening.
- I wrote a full-length piece on the safeties defending against the explosive big-play Giants offense. If you want to read that piece, CLICK HERE.
- Consistency in the passing game. I didn’t speak to, email with or Tweet @ a single Bears fan left unimpressed by the ease with which Jay Cutler dissected the Redskins defense through the air. They’re hungry for a passing game capable of competing for a title with the best in the business. Cutler doesn’t need to do anything but it’d be nice to see him complete a few through the air, hit five different targets, and continue building the confidence of this newly-exciting unit.
- Middle linebacker. It turns out Brian Urlacher visited Dr. Strangelove during his “personal time”. Now the conspiracy theorists believe Urlacher is destined for extended time on the bench. The question facing the Bears is will Blake Costanzo win the middle ‘backer spot, sending Roach back out to his more natural SLB? (Answer: Probably not.)
- Ryan Quigley. I don’t know much about the mechanics of punting but I’ve seen quite a few in my day. It would seem the hip is – even on the not kicking side – is a somewhat pivotal component. Adam Podlesh’s hip flexor isn’t a season-ender by any means but it’s not inconceivable he’ll miss those initial two games. If Quigley punts well, he’ll earn the job. If he doesn’t, the Bears may have to return to the big-legged but wildly inconsistent Matt Dodge. (I don’t see Brad Maynard returning after the way he left but stranger things have happened in this league.)
- Matt Blanchard v. Josh McCown. Nobody should overreact to what Blanchard achieved against the seventh-team defense of the Washington Redskins. But clearly the kid has ability. Be honest with yourself: If the Bears are down to their third quarterback, would they be in a significantly better position if McCown took to the field? (Everyone would love to see Blanchard moved to the practice squad but one wonders if Phil Emery would risk losing him and the practice squad is a risk.)
- Evan Rodriguez. He’s an intriguing talent but I would be interested if the Temple tight end truly has a role within the Bears base offense. He looks small and a bit weak to me but his pass-catching skill is undeniable.
- Improvement from the fringe: Sanzenbacher, Adams, Collins, Price…etc. If Bears’ championship hopes depend upon any of these guys we’re all just marking time. But depth in this NFL is important as players drop like flies across the league.
- Remember: It’s the third preseason game, yes, but it’s still a preseason game. In 2006 this game was the foundation for Denny Green’s “they are who we thought they were” rant in Arizona. That summer the Bears looked like a team that could neither score nor tackle in their third preseason effort, leading to a cavalcade of negativity from the local media. End result? They won the NFC.
There is very little to be concerned with tomorrow night, outside Webb (perhaps). The truth of this visit to the Meadowlands for the Bears is that only one thing matters: get out in one piece. Losing a couple more starters to injury could be devastating to the early-season campaign. No more damn injuries!