Bears Five Things to Watch Versus Seahawks

Bears Five Things to Watch Versus Seahawks
The Bears need Matt Forte to be a major factor in the offense once the regular season starts September 7.

The third preseason game is considered the most important. It is usually the one that the starters see the most minutes. The Bears offense has a tough test early in the game. The Bears travel to Seattle to face the NFL's best defense.

Through the first two weeks of the pre-season, the Bears offense seems to have picked up where it left off in 2013. The passing game has continued to be dominant. The Bears lead the NFL in the pre-season in total  yards and passing yards. That's not something that would have ever been expected from a team that has not had a probowl Quarterback since 1985.

With two weeks left there are still unknowns going into the regular season and some things to work on and figure out.

The Running Game

Matt Forte has been one of the NFL's best running backs over the last few seasons. His skill set as a runner and receiver perfectly fits Marc Trestman's offense. However has -5 yards on three carries through the first two weeks of the pre-season. His backups haven't been much better.

Fourth round rookie Ka' Deem Carey from Arizona had not lived up to his billing. Carey led the NCAA with 3,814 yards the last two seasons. He has just 59 yards on 23 carries through the first two weeks.  Carey's long has been only 15 yards. He ran just a 4.7 40 at the NFL Combine, clearly he is not usually a threat to go all the way.

Jordan Lynch led the Bears with 24 yards in the pre-season opener, but did not receive a carry last week. If he has any chance of making the team, he will have to show his meddle on special teams.

Last year's pre-season sensation Michael Ford had just 15 yards on five carries in the opener. He also didn't receive any carries in week two. Ford led the NFL in rushing in the pre-season in 2013, but never got a carry in the regular season.

Shaun Draughn who is listed as second string on the depth chart had a strong game against Jacksonville last week. He finished with 33 yards on three carries.

As  team the Bears have 139 yards on 43 carries. That comes out to a  paltry 3.23 YPC. If this continues into the regular season, opposing defensive lines will tee off on Jay Cutler.

The Secondary

Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray are listed as the starting safeties on the Bears Depth Chart. Mundy has been the best over the first two games. Mundy and corners Sherrick McManis and Al Louis-Jean all had interceptions two weeks ago against Philadelphia.

Adrian Wilson, M.D. Jennings, Chris Conte, Brock Vereen and Criag Steltz are listed as the backups. Its unclear how many safeties the Bears will keep. As with Lynch, special teams ability could play a key role.

Through two weeks, the Bears have given up 584 yards passing in two games. The run defense so far has been vastly improved from last season. They have allowed just  84 yards per game on the ground. That's a 52.4 percent improvement over last season when the Bears gave up 161.4 YPG on the ground. The rebuild defensive line seems to have paid off so far.

Santonio Holmes Status

The Bears signing of Holmes earlier in the week has to indicate they are not happy with where they are at with the third Wide Receiver. Holmes has only played 15 games over the last two seasons. He has 43 receptions for 728 yards and two touchdowns the last two years combined. Those would all be career lows for one season. The fact that they occurred over two seasons makes Holmes a reach.

ESPN's Michael C. Wright spoke with Cutler about Holmes and Cutler said;

"He obviously knows how to play football," Cutler said.... "He's explosive... But (he's) getting in and out of cuts, [he] catches the ball well, extremely explosive, fast. He's exciting."

If Cutler is right about Holmes, the Bears could have could lightening in a bottle. The Bears have nothing to lose as long as Holmes stays out of trouble and healthy.

Marc Trestman was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying "I’d like him to dress,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We want to get him in there as quickly as possible."

Backup Quarterback

Josh McCown proved last year year that a good quarterback can thrive in Trestman's system. Both Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer have looked impressive through two weeks.

Palmer is currently listed as number two on the depth chart. The prevailing widsom seems to be that second string in Clausen's to lose. Clausen has a 100.9 QB rating and Palmer a 93.1. Both will likely make the team.

Seventh round draft pick David Fales is a long shot. His (lack of ) arm strength has been a criticism.

Special Teams

The special teams have been a mess through the first two weeks. A blocked field goal, kickoff return for a touchdown, turnovers and muffed punts have all hurt the Bears through the first two weeks.

Special teams ace Eric Weems was cut earlier in the week to make way for Holmes. Weems had averaged 23.2 yards per kickoff return, but lost a fumble on a punt return last week.  Ford had two returns for 49 yards in the preseason.

Michael Spurlock has experience returning both kickoffs and punts.

After missing last week with a hamstring injury, Chris Williams will return against Seattle. He was a dynamic return man in Canada and showed explosiveness on a 73 yards touchdown reception in the opener against the Eagles.

He seems best suited to being the Bears primary returner.

Asked about Williams, Trestman said "We need to see him be productive' according to CBSChicago.Com.

Pat O'Donnell aka Megapunt seems to have the edge over Tress Way in the battle to replace Adam Podlesh as the Bears punter. O'Donnell is averaging 46.6 yards on five punts with a net average of 42.4. He also has two inside the 20. Way is averaging 41 yards per punt with a net average of 39.0.

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