By Adam Hoge-
SEATTLE — In preparation for Friday night’s late start, the Bears adjusted their bed times, going to bed later each night this week.
Apparently it didn’t work, because when kickoff arrived around at 7 p.m. Pacific Time — 9 p.m. back in Chicago — the Bears didn’t seem very awake.
“We went on the road. We didn’t start fast,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “We allowed the home team to take this game downhill at us and we couldn’t respond offensively by finishing drives. And then we couldn’t get the returns to the point where we were ever on a short field.”
There’s no sugarcoating it. Friday night’s 34-6 preseason loss to the Seahawks was a three-phase disaster. The only consolation is an obvious and fortunate fact: The game didn’t count.
So was the beatdown from the Super Bowl champs an indication of what’s to come in the regular season? Maybe, maybe not. Grand conclusions shouldn’t be made, but these startling realities can’t be ignored:
- The Bears’ second team defense had more stops on the Seahawks’ starters than the Bears’ first team defense: One. The starting defense had five chances to stop Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ No. 1 offense and the unit allowed four touchdowns and one field goal. How bad was it? The Seahawks were 7-for-7 on third down in the first half.
- The Bears forced one punt. One. How is a team supposed to evaluate its dire punt return game if the other team never punts?
- The special teams unit continues to have issues, allowing a 59-yard punt return by Earl Thomas in the first half. Meanwhile, no one flashed in the return game. In fact, Chris Williams (hamstring) missed his second straight game and continues to look like the team’s best option despite getting zero game reps in the preseason.
- The offense showed some flashes, but it still put up zero points. The most startling sequence came after a 23-yard pass from Jay Cutler to Martellus Bennett that gave the Bears a 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line. After a run-play that went backwards, a touchdown pass from Cutler to Dante Rosario was nullified by a questionable pass interference call on Brandon Marshall. Bad calls happen though, and on the very next play, Cutler threw an intended pass for Josh Morgan into double-coverage and it was intercepted by cornerback Jeremy Lane and returned 41-yards. The snap from Roberto Garza was rushed, but that doesn’t change the fact that Morgan was never open. The interception led to a field goal for Seattle going into the half.
Trestman summed up the game pretty well: “This night was about not being able to return, not being able to stop a couple returns. We couldn’t stop them on third down — they had a couple extended drives because of penalties. We couldn’t keep the quarterback in the pocket. He extended the play and made some plays, and offensively we couldn’t finish drives.”
That’s pretty much a failure in every aspect of the game. Hey, at least Trestman was honest.
But again, the game didn’t count. And it’s August. So Trestman can at least look at it like this: The Bears went into one of the most hostile environments in the league and experienced exactly how to let a game get away from them in a hurry.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to look at the game segment-wise and make corrections,” Trestman said. “Collectively, how three phases of football are tied together when you go on the road and try to win a game in this kind of environment. Because it’s something were going to have to do through the season and early on in the season.”
If Bears fans can feel good about anything from Friday night, it’s that their head coach painted reality pretty clearly: A lot of what the Bears saw and experienced in Seattle is exactly what they’ll see quickly when the regular season starts. Early road trips to San Francisco and New York will not be easy, and the Bears will face three very mobile quarterbacks in the first three weeks of the season in E.J. Manuel, Colin Kaepernick and Geno Smith.
Russell Wilson is toughest mobile quarterback threat in the league right now and had huge game Friday night, as the Bears could not keep him contained to the middle of the field. The third-year quarterback scrambled around and created his own throwing windows, completing 15-of-20 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score.
“Contain is going to paramount,” Trestman said, referring to the early part of the regular season.
Basically, there’s two ways to look at the loss in Seattle. And both seem fair.
Option 1: You can examine all the problems — specifically the ones on defense — and say the Bears are headed for a disappointing season because they haven’t corrected what ailed them last year.
Option 2: You can examine all the problems and say the Bears know exactly what they need to correct in order to have success during the first quarter of their season.
Obviously, Trestman is taking Option 2.
“There’s a strong feeling between myself and the coaches and the players that the things that happened tonight are fixable,” he said.
They better be. Because time is running out. The Bears better get back to work in a hurry.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for 87.7 The Game and TheGameChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.