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Arkush: Bears’ defense puts in disappointing effort against Seattle

Published: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 12:27 a.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 12:31 a.m. CST
Caption
(AP photo)
The Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch (24) pushes aside the Bears’ Shea McClellin (50) as Lamarr Houston (99) watches Lynch’s touchdown run in the first half Friday in Seattle.

So what did we learn from the Bears’ all-important third preseason game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks in Seattle?

If in fact the Bears are a legitimate playoff threat for 2014, then the Seahawks are ready to defend their Super Bowl title.

After the 34-6 thrashing by the Seahawks, what was very unclear is whether or not the Bears are actually a contender.

The difference in class between Seattle and the Bears was obvious from the opening snap. The defending champs are younger, more athletic and a lot faster than the Bears.

We probably should have realized that going in but seeing it unfold in real time and in living color was a bit unsettling at the very least.

This would be a good spot to point out that even the third preseason game is nothing more than a meaningless exhibition.

The Bears can and, I suspect, will get better than they were against the Seahawks. But the matchup of the Bears 1’s against Seattle’s 1’s was a lot more of a mismatch than I expected. If you’re looking for measures of concern, the defense was a lot more disappointing than the offense, basically picking up right where it left off last year.

The Bears’ “D” gave up yards in chunks in the first half and was equally inept versus the run or the pass.

Of particular concern was the play of Charles “Peanut” Tillman and Lance Briggs. While neither was the worst player on the field, both looked stale and slow.

It’s possible that as 30-somethings, it is taking them a bit longer to play their way into shape. But it’s at least equally likely that, as aging defenders, they’re in the best shape they’re going to be in all year and it could only get worse from here.

Shea McClellin has made no progress whatsoever. I focused on him exclusively on Seattle’s first two touchdown drives and he appears to be the opposite of instinctive and on several occasions, including specifically Marshawn Lynch’s 7-yard touchdown on the Seahawks’ opening drive. On that play, McClellin was incapable of changing direction.

Jon Bostic struggled almost as badly in pass coverage in the nickel and Lamarr Houston and Jeremiah Ratliff offered little comfort they’ll be any more effective versus the run than the Bears’ defensive front was last year.

Willie Young was a bright spot and it was interesting to watch Mel Tucker rotate his rookie tackles, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, in as a tandem with the first-team defense. Ferguson actually made a couple of plays.

The offense wasn’t a whole lot better than the defense but, in all fairness, the Seattle “D” offers a much stiffer test than their offense does.

What I found most puzzling is whether or not coach Marc Trestman has decided to rest his ground game until midseason or so, or if he’s just that confident in it that he’s leaving it on the bench until the Bills come to town in a few weeks.

Jay Cutler wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t the “new Jay” either. The Jeremy Lane interception at the end of the first half brought back more than a few bad memories.

It’s hard to say too much about the rest of the offense. As I’ve already alluded to, Matt Forte just wasn’t given a chance and while Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery each had a costly drop, they both also had a couple of nice moments.

Two encouraging developments were the play of rookie punter Patrick O’Donnell and wide receiver Josh Morgan.

Morgan did enough to secure at least the number four wideout spot and should probably be number three right now, and O’Donnell actually outran All Pro safety Earl Thomas to make a touchdown saving tackle on a punt return.

That said it’s impossible to make a glass half full argument about this one.

The Bears come home from Seattle having raised far more questions than they answered.

• Chicago Football editor Hub Arkush can be reached at harkush@chicagofootball.com and on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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