Thus far in this NFL preseason, a few things have happened for the Chicago Bears. Marion Barber has proven to be the powerful, change of pace back that the Bears need. So much so that even Chester Taylor knows that he won’t be on the team come the regular season. Robbie Gould has missed some field goals, and Vernon Gholston stood straight up one too many times out of his stance and made an early exit for himself. The depth at linebacker is more thin than Rod Marinelli’s hair, and half of our offensive line is extremely confused with their assignments. One thing that has been curious to my eyes however is the fact that there have been no touchdowns through the air this preseason. Now this wouldn’t be a cause for concern if the Bears had scored more than 36 points over three preseason games. I know, I know it is only the preseason, but still, if teams realize that Bears Quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions (4) than team has scored touchdowns (3, all of them rushing) they might send a few more blitzes and focus on the run even more, leaving our running game stuffed, and our quarterbacks on their backs more often.
Let’s go through the basics on the quarterbacks first: Jay Cutler is a phenomenal quarterback, and he has come into the season in much better shape both in his conditioning and his fundamentals. His only interception resulted from a Roy Williams failure to catch a pass, what a shock. Caleb Hanie has looked like an inexperienced quarterback thrust into a backup role normally does; taking chances to prove himself, and sometimes that results in the interceptions he has thrown. Nathan Enderle is, in my opinion, a quarterback who had a good college career, but will be a career backup getting spot starts potentially later on, he as well has thrown an interception.
Next, let us look at the wide receivers: Roy Williams was the “big name” receiver Chicago brought in this offseason after a lackluster few years in Dallas. He has had two catches for 33 yards, not what you expect from your starter at wide out, especially with the multiple drops he had had. If he doesn’t get his act together during the fourth preseason game Johnny Knox will rightfully regain his starting spot. That brings me to our next receiver, Johnny Knox. Knox has had a better preseason that Williams with four catches for 53 yards, but even better has worked his butt off during practice to prove himself. What about Devin Hester? The man has gotten a ton of praise as he has really refined himself as a wide receiver, and he can now do more than run in a straight line, making precise cuts and catching balls, 5 of them for 77 yards actually. Kris Adams is an UFA that I personally want the Bears to keep, even though they won’t keep that many receivers. He has had 4 receptions for 70 yards, and is a good, big target. Although he probably won’t stick with the Bears, he should find a home. Dane Sanzenbacher, another UFA, has received reps with the first team, he’s that good. Unfortunately he has dropped balls, like every other receiver, but still has 6 receptions for 57 yards. Of course there’s the receiver with the best chemistry with Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett. He has had a fantastic preseason by the Bears standards leading the team in both receptions (10) and Yards (154).
So where’s the problem? Why can’t the Bears throw a touchdown pass? Of course the receivers are either too arrogant to catch a ball (Roy Williams) or inexperienced (The rest of them). The Bears need to work a ton on the chemistry between the quarterbacks and wide receivers. But the quarterbacks have a lot to work on in terms of decision making, such as Cutler thinking he can make any throw, or Caleb Hanie holding the ball for 6 seconds then wondering why he got sacked. The wide receivers need to focus on everything that has to do with being a receiver. They need to get up field after the catch, but even before that make the catch. If the offensive line continues to hold blocks, the quarterbacks, namely Jay Cutler, continue to make good decisions, and the receivers can catch the ball and get up the field, as well as be effective in the red zone, namely Roy Williams, Cutler should throw 30 touchdown passes. With that effectiveness, if he can get to that 30 touchdown mark, his interceptions should go down as well when his receivers make the catches.
“Bears Preseason Stats.” Chicago Tribune 30 Aug. 2011, sec. 3: 7. Print.