After all of the hoopla surrounding Jay Cutler‘s return to Denver, let’s not forget there’s actually a football game to be played. Even though it’s just the preseason, the third game is always the one to focus on the most. The teams game plan. The starters play into the third quarter. This is a close to the regular season as it gets.
Here’s what the guru’s over at ESPN think:
Trent Dilfer brings analysis like he used to bring passes back when he was with Bucs- weak and off the mark. An opportunity for Kyle Orton? Gimme a break!
Here are the things I’ll be watching for after the Cutler drama dies down a bit:
Performance under Pressure
I expect to see some blitzes and lots of crowd noise whenever Cutler and the Bears offense hits the field. It will be interesting to see how they perform under those circumstances compared to the friendly atmosphere of Soldier Field when they lit up the Giants.
Facing a New Look
Chicago’s Week 1 opponent is the Green Bay Packers. In the offseason, the Pack re-vamped their defense and installed a 3-4 scheme. The Broncos run the same 3-4 look, so it will be interesting to see how the Bears match up and will serve as a good practice to see what things work and what might not.
On Defense, it Starts Up Front…
I keep hearing about the great offensive line Cutler played behind last season in Denver. I want to see how Rod Marinelli’s crew fares against the Bronco’s offensive line. Keep an eye out to see if Tommie Harris even plays and if he does, how effective he is. At the other defensive tackle position, let’s see who steps up in light of Dusty Dvoracek’s annual season-ending injury.
…But it Ends in the Secondary
The Bears secondary is still banged up with Charles Tillman, Zack Bowman and Daniael Manning still on the mend. This is another area where you want to see who will step up. Was Al Afalava a 1-week wonder? Can Craig Steltz or Josh Bullocks provide some depth and leadership?
Many Happy Returns
Devin Hester will get to test out his return skills and bring back some punts on Sunday night. Hester brought a punt and kickoff against the Broncos in Week 12 back in 2007. As nice as it would be to see Devin get his groove back, I’ll be watching more closely to make sure the Bears’ #1 wide receivers gets through the game healthy.
Even though the starters will be playing into the 3rd quarter, the reserves will still need to make their case to make the final 53 man roster. Whether it’s on special teams or late in the game, these guys need to play well as cutdowns approach.
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