By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) If the third preseason game is truly a dress rehearsal, the Bears need a wardrobe change. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks steamrolled the Bears, 34-6.
Heading into Friday night’s game, the Bears had several lingering questions and ended the night with few — if any — answers.
There’s a stark contrast between these teams in terms of talent and execution, but one area really stood out: team speed. The Seahawks’ athletes overwhelmed the Bears in all three phases of the game.
The Bears did themselves no favors, committing costly penalties that kept drives alive for Seattle and took points off the board for the Bears.
“It was all three phases of our football team,” coach Marc Trestman said. “The return game, our cover game, our run defense. We had penalties that continued drives and we didn’t finish drives offensively.”
When the starters were in the game, the Seahawks offense scored on all five of their first-half possessions, going 4-for-4 in the red zone, and a perfect 8-for-8 on third-down conversions.
The Seahawks exposed the same issues that have plagued the Bears defense throughout the preseason — over-pursuit on misdirection plays, no backside contain and voids between the underneath and deep coverage.
On the Seahawks’ first touchdown of the game, defensive end Lamarr Houston and linebacker Shea McClellin both bit inside on a draw play to running back Marshawn Lynch, creating a cutback lane to the backside for Lynch to rumble into the end zone.
The Bears have questions up the middle at every level of the defense and were overmatched by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. With no push from the interior of the defensive line, Wilson comfortably climbed the pocket and laterally broke contain while keeping his eyes down the field and connected with receivers settled into soft spots in the Bears’ underneath coverage. In total, Wilson ended the night 15-for-20 for 202 yards, a 140.2 rating, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
Wilson’s ability to keep plays alive with his feet poses a challenge for any defense, but the Bears were frequently in man coverage, and defenders simply lost their coverage responsibility, which lead to yards after the catch.
Percy Harvin’s speed gave the Bears secondary — particularly Kelvin Hayden — fits. Harvin was able to get both free releases off the line of scrimmage as well as evade defenders in the open field and turn short gains into first downs.
At safety, Ryan Mundy took a step back on Friday night. Mundy is frequently used as a “force” defender who has to set a hard edge against the run and force the running back to cut back inside to where his help is. Instead, Mundy made plays inside-out, allowing Seattle running backs to bounce the ball outside to pick up extra yardage.
Fellow safety Chris Conte saw his first action of the preseason and was able to dislodge the ball in the end zone with a forceful hit, showing no lingering issues from his offseason shoulder injury. However, later in the game, Conte missed on an open-field tackle, then saw his night get cut short with a reported concussion.
Safety was one of the hottest topics for the Bears this past offseason, and three weeks into the preseason, the position remains unsettled.
The Bears’ special teams woes continued as well. On the opening kickoff, Harvin cut back across the field on a 46-yard return, setting Seattle up with excellent field position. Then in the second quarter, Earl Thomas had a 59-yard punt return that set the Seahawks up at the Bears’ 16-yard line, which they converted into a touchdown three plays later.
Lane integrity remains an issue for all of the Bears’ coverage units, and they’ve yet to figure out who their core special teams players are in three weeks of work.
For the first time this preseason, the Bears had pass-protection issues. Quarterback Jay Cutler was frequently flushed from the pocket and moved from his launch point, which led to some rushed and inaccurate throws.
The Bears were able to move the ball on a few drives. Alshon Jeffery dropped a potential touchdown, and an offensive pass interference call on Brandon Marshall wiped out a touchdown pass to Dante Rosario. On the very next play, Cutler was intercepted.
Considering the importance the Bears placed on the game, it was a discouraging performance. If this was a measuring stick on where the Bears rank in the NFC, they have a long way to go, yet the regular season is only two weeks away.
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