Chicago Sun-Times

What not to look for in Bears' preseason opener

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Preseason openers are for amusement only.

The last time the Bears scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the preseason -- in 1994, when Erik Kramer threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to fullback Merrill Hoge -- they botched the extra-point. There's always something.

As it turned out, neither Kramer nor Hoge were out of the picture by midseason. Kramer suffered a separated shoulder and later was benched after the disastrous Halloween debacle against the Packers. Hoge wasn't even around for that. He suffered two concussions in the first five games and retired in mid-October.

Still, the Bears went 9-7 with Steve Walsh replacing Kramer and beat the Vikings in the Metrodome in the playoffs before losing to the 49ers.

The following season, Kramer, battling Walsh for the starting job, was booed nearly every time he left the field in the preseason opener, when he was 5-of-15 for 45 yards against the Carolina Panthers. Kramer ended up winning the job and having one of the most prolific seasons a quarterback has ever had in Chicago.

He set franchise records with 29 touchdown passes and 3,838 yards that still stand today. His passer rating of 93.5 is the best for a Bears starting quarterback since 1984. But it wasn't enough. The Bears finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

So when it comes to "things to watch" in tonight's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field, Mike Tice's simple, but not insignificant, standard for the offense is a pretty sensible barometer.

''I like to be clean,'' Tice said when asked what indicators he looks for in a preseason opener. ''I like to minimize the offsides. We'll probably get some holding calls in there. But that happens.

''No turnovers. Minimize the offsides. No delay-of-game [penalties]. See if we can run the ball efficiently. And finish some drives. A little rhythm.''

One thing to look for tonight is an offense that doesn't look like it's a "work-in-progress." The Bears' offense technically is in transition with Tice taking over for Mike Martz. But the Bears don't have time for a transition year. The last thing you want to hear from Jay Cutler is "we're still in the first year of this offense." If you hear that, it's probably going to be the last year of this offense as well.

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8 Comments

The only thing we'll see tonight is mediocrity!! These Bears will finish 6-10 and creighton will jump off a cliff!! I can't wait!

The player I'll be watching is left tackle J'Marcus Webb, who will get his first chance to prove himself going against Elvis Dumervil, one of the leagues premier right ends. If Webb can take Dumervil out, it will go a long ways in giving Tice confidence that he has the right guy manning the left tackle position. We get our first look at rookie tackle James Brown tonight also, who is listed as the #2 left takle right now. The word coming out of camp is this kid can play, it will be interesting to see him in live action. If Webb falters, and Brown comes in and has a smooth game, he could push Webb for playing time with the ones, should be interesting.

I gotta admit, I also can't wait to see rookie Shea McClellin, especially how he holds up vs the run. This aspect of his game will determine weather he's gonna push Idonije for the #1 left end spot, can't wait GO BEARS!!

There is no game plan, the game is delayed, the starters may not play at all because of the delay and field conditions. Cutler is not playing so I am sure Bronco fans feel he is affraid to face the mighty Broncos.

Ground crew did not cover the field? Do they ever not screw up?

Urlacher is not in the building? WTF? What kind of crazy is going on with him? Cutler is at the game and he just had a kid.

All I am looking for is for linemen to stay off the ground, no penalties, and not getting beat inside. I want to see if Roach can cover the middle seem, or whoever is behind him. I want to see Shea and how he does. I also just want to check out some of the new faces, see if anyone jumps stands out.

Is it me or does Manning look out of shape? Maybe it's the new Jersey but he looks like he has a gut. Maybe he is just standing funny.

Where to begin, Webb still sucks Kevin, even Tice let everyone know he is not happy with Webb. Dude I don't know if you noticed but McClellin has to push for the third defensive end spot before he can push for the second defensive end spot. Wooten started ahead of Shea. Which I told you would happen, oh and he sucks against the run and is never going to be a starting DE, he gets killed at the point of attack.

Now when Lovie told you they drafted him as a pass rush specialist and said he was not going to be playing the run much, which part of that confused you? He was not drafted to be a starter.

If I may, the Bears drafted a natural LB, to play DE a position he does not look good at. But they drafted him to be a backup, the number 3 end. not a starter a number 3 end. Now I told you when the drafted him he was built to play in a 3-4 at LB and is not suited to play end. The pick does not even make sense at this point. Think about it, the drafted a LB to try and develop him to play the number 3 end pass rush specialist position. They spent a first round pick to put a player out of position, who at best was going to be a backup and a developmental back up at that. But you thought that was a great move. Chandler Jones do not forget that name. The Bears used the 19th overall pick for a developmental backup to play out of position.

The Pats took a developmental player as well, but a developmental startering end. And he looks ####### good so far and is already playing with the Pats starters. Chandler Jones. Had him listed as the number 1 pick when the Bears were up, right here on this site. I believe a couple of other posters liked him as well.

Creighton, no way did the Bears draft Shea McClellin to be a #3 DE, they drafted McClellin to be their eventual starting left end. On draft day Phil Emery said McClellin will play left end opposite Julius Peppers. Also, I never heard Lovie Smith say McClellin was drafted SOLELY as a pass rushing specialist and would not play the run much. He might have said that is how McClellin would start out his career, but never did he say that was the only reason they drafted him. McClellin was brought in to be a starter, which he will be eventually. The proof is Israel Idonije was only given a 1 year deal, Emery probably knew he was gonna take an end (McClellin) but needed someone to start (Idonije) till his rookie was ready. McClellin might not start this year, but will next year or maybe by the end of this season. Believe me, McClellin will be given every chance to start.

As far as Corey Wootton, if he comes on, good for him and the Bears. I've always liked Wootton, injury is the only thing that has been holding Wootton back. Again, if he comes on it will be better for the Bears.

McClellin did look good. Yes it was against backups but you gotta start somewhere. While McClellin's sack wasn't pretty, it was a stunt inside, he still made a play and looked impressive running the QB down. McClellin also had 3 tackles and 2 QB hits. With that being said, McClellin wasn't first on my wish list during the draft either, I wanted Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus who went #26 to the Texans and has looked impressive in one on one pass rushing drills for Huston. And I know who Chandler Jones is, the DE out of Syracuse who like McClellin is raw. I never liked Chandler because of his knee problems he had in college, he only played in 7 games during his final season at Syracuse due to his knees. I'm sure if he Bears would have took him you would have pointed that out lol!! I say give McClellin a chance GO BEARS!!

First Kevin the Bears don't play the whole LE, Re thing they bounce Peppers all the time. Second the End opposite Peppers on third downs, is the Pass rush specialist. Actually Kevin Lovie was very adimant about McClellin being drafted as a pass rusher. Lovie's defense is predicated on 4 down linemen. Lovie

Now I never said in future they didn't want him to become a starter. I am talking about this year. My own opinion is that he will never be more that a number 3 end. But this year he is clearly a developmental number 3 end. And it seems to me that is exactly what they new he would be this year or at least wanted him to be.

I never said he was your favorite guy in the draft, but you did fall in love with the pick after the fact.

McClellin's sack was not on a Stunt, it may look like a stunt but at no point did he exchange roles with any player. It's a 4 man rush, Shea rushed forward, did not engage the tackle, then dropped back and did not engage the center. At no point did he exchange roles with any player, He did not run a Cross, and it was not a loop as Shea never engaged and took up anyone elses role. No LB rushed for him and he never switched roles wit hthe 3 tech. A partial stunt maybe, but all Shea really did was drop into coverage after rushing forward.

Actually I listed Chandler Jones as the player I wanted them to draft, so I doubt I would be upset by them drafting him.

I do not know how you watch that game and actually think he looks like an End Kevin. That was not some second stringer he was going against that was an undrafted rookie. He is their 3rd string tackle on the Broncos. He cannot hold the point of attack and at no point does he ever even look like an end. He looks like a 3-4 LB on just about ever single play.

I do not think he is a bad football player and at no point have I ever said that about him. I said I don't think he is an end.

Something to remember about the Emery press confrence on McClellin is that he was talking about him in terms of what he did in college. He pointed out he was a 4 down player. Well that's not really relevant to Shea in the nfl because you really don;t want your first round pick playing special teams. He spoke about his natural starting position being the Mike and how Shea would rush the passer from there. He talked about Shea's great pad level, which is the opposite of what Marinelli said who pointed out his pad level is to high. He talked about Shea as a run defender in college, most of which he did as an LB. It's not the same as setting the edge at end in 4-3. Watch the VT game and you will see him get killed in the run game when he plays end including a goal line play in which they ran right over him just like in the Denver pre-season game in fact it looked like the same play. Shea also spent a lot of time on the ground. Shea made a tackle in the Denver game in which he came running from across the field after a big gain by denver. It's a nice play but again it shows a lot more LB than it does end. Ends set the edge, LB's run sideline to sideline, which is what Shea did. He struggled against a nobody the entire Denver game to set the edge. Bryan Bulaga is not a nobody, he is in your words a beast.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on August 9, 2012 10:39 AM.

Lovie Smith: "Brian [Urlacher] will be our [middle] linebacker" was the previous entry in this blog.

10 observations: Bears lose to Broncos in practice game is the next entry in this blog.

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