For the Chicago Bears, the third preseason game was supposed to be a dress rehearsal in which the starters played the entire first half against the best team in the NFL. It was a matchup to gauge the potential of Chicago’s roster heading into the 2014 season, and the Bears were annihilated.
The Seattle Seahawks humiliated the visiting team in every way possible during the first two quarters en route to a 31-0 halftime lead. Seattle QB Russell Wilson continuously eluded pressure and kept play after play alive with his legs. At the same time, the Seahawks were able to pound the ball down the throat of the Bears defense.
The offense was able to move the ball but drives continuously stalled, with penalties and turnovers doing them in. Additionally, special teams continue to struggle, with both return and coverage units failing to get the job done.
It’s obvious the Bears have a lot of work to do over the next two weeks.
With that in mind, let’s break down the players who shined and those who left plays on the field in tonight’s 34-6 defeat.
DE Willie Young
Young was the lone bright spot for the first-team defense. He was stout against the run and provided pressure off the edge. Young finished the game with six total tackles and one sack, his first of the preseason, with two QB hits. Young has had a quiet preseason yet his performance tonight showed his potential as the club’s third defensive end.
DT Will Sutton
Sutton had his best outing of the preseason. He racked up three total tackles, one of which he earned after discarding a blocker at the line of scrimmage and swallowing up the ball carrier. He also collapsed the pocket on a strong one-gap pass rush later in the game. Sutton will serve as a rotational defensive tackle this year and could be very successful in that role.
Lane has been climbing up the depth chart the past two weeks and may have solidified a roster spot with his standout performance against the Seahawks. He finished with three total tackles, a sack and two QB hits. The Bears want to keep five defensive ends on the roster and it appears Lane is the frontrunner to rotate at No. 5.
WR Josh Morgan
The Bears needed a wide receiver to step up in place of Marquess Wilson and Morgan did just that tonight. He hauled in three catches on five targets for a team-high 48 yards. His most impressive catch came on a back-shoulder throw from Jay Cutler in which Morgan had to twist his body to make the grab. Morgan’s a big, physical receiver who could have plenty of success as Chicago’s slot receiver.
CB C.J. Wilson
Over the last two weeks, Wilson has made a strong bid for one of Chicago’s final roster spots. He’s recorded an interception in each of the past two contests and was inserted with the starting kickoff team against Seattle. With Isaiah Frey on the shelf indefinitely with a hamstring pull, Wilson could sneak onto the 53-man roster as the sixth cornerback.
It’s almost unfair to single out Ratliff, as the entire first-team defense played horribly, yet Ratliff’s rag-doll performance in the middle stood out. He could not hold his ground at the point of attack and was repeatedly pushed around against the run. The Bears are relying on Ratliff to be a physical presence at defensive tackle, yet he was anything but stout in tonight’s performance, which raises questions about how much the 32-year-old has left in the tank.
Conte was actually having a very strong game, showing good aggression and form tackling against the run, yet he missed a tackle badly in the third quarter, which apparently caused a concussion. Conte has had multiple concussions during his career, so this is bad news. It’s possible he could miss a number of weeks, or possibly much longer, which will be just one more setback in Conte’s bid to re-claim his starting gig. Expect Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray to be Chicago’s first-team safeties in Week 1.
OL Michael Ola
Ola had been the surprise of the preseason with strong performances as the club’s starting right tackle the first two weeks. Yet Ola was a turnstile tonight, giving up continuous pressures and a sack. Jordan Mills returned to practice this week and will likely be ready by the start of the regular season, which is good news, as Ola still has a long way to go.
McClellin had a powerful run fill late in the game but by that point, the damage had been done. His transition to linebacker has been painful and he took another step backward tonight, showing very little awareness, instincts or physicality. Marshawn Lynch’s 7-yard touchdown run to start the blowout sums up McClellin the linebacker to this point. After bouncing the play outside, only McClellin stood between Lynch and the end zone. McClellin closed on the ball carrier and then hit him about as hard as a gust of wind. Lynch brushed off the linebacker before waltzing into the end zone.
While Ka’Deem Carey racked up 42 yards from scrimmage, Draughn managed just four total yards, including a goal-line attempt in which he showed very little burst or power. After tonight’s performance, Carey may have leaped past Draughn in the competition to be Matt Forte’s backup.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.