The Chicago Bears are in the Bay Area for their third (and most important) preseason matchup, this time against the Oakland Raiders. As the Bears go for their final "dress rehearsal," we take a look at the best and worse case scenarios for the offense… with a dramatic twist.
Best Case Scenario: "Ludicrous Speed!! GO!!"
The pieces are all there, it's time for this Cutler-led offense to put it all together. The best-case scenario is this: Cutler takes short drops, and fires quick strikes to receivers all over the field. 2nd-year wideout Alshon Jeffery finally gets involved for the first time all preseason. Ditto for free-agent tight end Martellus Bennett.
Cutler works the play action, to find open receivers deep down the field. The Bears finally have all the skill position players to make it happen. Other teams in the division have been moving at light speed on offense, especially the Packers and Lions. That's left Bears fans to say, "what do we have on this thing, a Cuisinart?". It's time for the Bears' offense to go to plaid.
You can expect the offense to look much more like the regular-season version. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer told espnchicago.com:
“We’re game planning this a little bit more than the other games that we’ve played in the preseason….We just want to see a functioning offense. Can we be efficient? Can we call the play, get out of the huddle, quickly get to the line of scrimmage, snap the football and do the right thing? From there, plays will happen.”
Worst Case Scenario: "My brains… are going into my feet!"
This can be interpreted a couple of ways. First, Cutler could spend the evening getting pummeled to the turf, much like he has over much of his Chicago career. Or, it could be taken in a more figurative sense, meaning he continues to think with his feet… and throw the ball to the other team. Cutler, despite a turnover last week, was fairly efficient, completing 4 of his 5 passes. That included a touchdown, but all 5 of his targets were to Brandon Marshall. Cutler needs to show he can spread out the ball if the Bears are going to have any sort of improvement on offense.
Offensive Line: Zoolander
Best Case Scenario: "I remember thinking, wow, you're ridiculously good looking, maybe you could do that for a career."
So far, the new look Bears' offensive line has been ridiculously good looking… in a purely football sense of course. In the Bears' second preseason game against the Chargers, the addition of rookies Jordan Mills and Kyle Long on the right side allowed Cutler and backup Josh McCown to complete 9 of 13 passes, for 66 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 pick (which was due to a Cutler throw into double coverage, not a protection breakdown).
Even with the interception, Cutler finished the game with a 98.3 quarterback rating… exactly 17 points above his career average. There were 2 sacks allowed, but that was largely negated by domination in the running game that allowed Matt Forte to churn out nearly 10 yards per carry and bust a 58-yarder. That left Bears fans saying, "That Forte, he's so hot right now. Forte."
Worst Case Scenario: Tomorrow, we're reading this group's eugoogaly. "Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogaly was?"
A rookie’s job as a starter is always tenuous. So far, both Kyle Long at right guard, and Jordan Mills at right tackle have looked the part. But a large majority of their playing-time has come against backups. That won't be the case in Oakland. Head coach Marc Trestman said the starters should expect to play at least the first half, and you can bet the same is true for the Raiders. If Long and Mills continue to hold their own in this one, it will go a long way to making Bears fans believe the embarrassment on the line over the last several seasons is a thing of the past. Of course, if either player decided to drop "Blue Steel," all bets are off.
The Bears take on the Raiders Friday at 9pm Central from Oakland.
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