When former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green went on that rant, he created a rallying cry for those who put a lot of stock in preseason, but it’s still debatable if he’s right.
I’ll agree that the third preseason game is the most important of the preseason games, but the main goal is still just to escape healthy.
In the game that Green is referring too, he started Kurt Warner (it was Matt Leinart who played in the regular season game) and they led just 10-6 at halftime. There were some signs of things to come in the regular season battle. Rex Grossman had thrown an interception and fumbled in the preseason game. In the regular season, he threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles (think about this the next time you bash Jay Cutler).
Perhaps the thing Green should’ve paid attention to is that Devin Hester had just one punt return in the preseason game for 19 yards. Yet, he kicked to Hester in the regular season matchup and, ultimately, that is what burned them.
You can find glimpses of things that carried over and things that didn’t in every preseason game. The problem is that you never know what will.
Last season, the Bears took a 27-3 lead into halftime against the Raiders. The only score they allowed was a 58-yard field goal late in the half and the intercepted Matt Flynn twice. As it turned out, their offense was as good as it looked that day, but their defense wasn’t close.
The year before, the Bears trailed the Giants 17-7 at halftime, leading to concerns about their defense. That year, their defense ended up being arguably the best in the entire league that year.
If you just take Cutler’s numbers from the third preseason game, you see very little carry over into the regular season. In three of the last four seasons, Cutler had a higher completion percentage, passer rating and more yards per attempt in the regular season than he did in the third preseason game. His average passer rating in the third preseason game has been just 66.3, in the regular season it has been 85.6.
It isn’t just Cutler. Does anyone remember how terrible Josh McCown looked in the preseason last year, especially the third game?
Maybe my favorite quote came from Aaron Kromer this week when he said: “In preseason, you can’t always rely on the result of the play on how much success you had in that play.” Kromer then clarified that they may be playing players they’re not planning on who may mess up any given play. This works for offense and defense.
So, if after watching the game tonight you want to crown the Bears’ asses, crown them. But I wouldn’t recommend it.