Bears vs Bills Preview - What to Watch For in Preseason Game 1

Wins and losses don’t matter in the preseason.  Last season’s Chicago Bears are a perfect example that preseason results are not indicative of regular season potential.  Remember when the Bears went 0-4 last preseason and we were all ready to jump in Lake Michigan?  They went on to win 11 games in the regular season and advance all the way to the NFC Championship game.

First and foremost, don’t put too much stock in the results.   The destination is the journey if you know what I mean.  Here are a few things that I’ll be watching for when the Bears and Bills strap on the pads for the first practice game of the 2011 campaign.

Jay Cutler’s Footwork

Mike Martz is giddy about Cutty footwork.  If he’s in for more than 8 plays, I’ll be surprised, but I’d like to see how he does with a new center (just wait for the boo birds from Kreutz-ites if he and Garza have a bad exchange), if he connects with Roy Williams and if he can evade an opposing pass rush, which will inevitably be coming his way.

Matt Forte

He threatened to hold out, but he caved and showed up on time and ready to go.  Then he said he would sit out games if a new contract wasn’t locked up before preseason games started.  Well…. I don’t think that a contract will be inked before kickoff, so the big question is – Will he play or won’t he?  If he doesn’t does Lovie cover for him?  Keep an eye on Chester Taylor – he will be playing for his Chicago Bears life.

More after the jump.

Offensive Line

I’d like to see the big guys in the trenches get more than a half dozen snaps.  I think the offensive line should play well into the second quarter, especially the youngsters Carimi, Webb, Louis and Williams.  Heck, even Garza needs a few extra snaps at his new center position.  I’ll be watching Carimi in particular to see if he lives up to the hype.

Rookies Rookies and more Rookies

You’ll see a lot of unfamiliar faces, so get acquainted with the roster.  Besides Carimi, I’m anxious to see what the Dane Sanzenbacher buzz is all about on the offensive side of the ball.  There are a few other wide receiver vying for probably one spot on the final 53 man roster, so this should be an intense competition.  On the defensive side of the ball, I’ve heard good things about JT Thomas as a backup linebacker and Chris Conte could be another ball hawking safety.

New Rules

There are some new rules going into effect this year, most notably the new kickoff rules (which is really an old and boring rule coming back) and the review of all scoring plays.  If you’d like to get some idea about the new rules before kickoff, click this link to see the NFL’s video on the new rules.  After you watch the video, see if you agree with me – these new rules BLOW.

Da Field

Soldier Field has been under fire over the last week since the Bears cancelled Family Night because the grass was deemed unsafe.  The Chicago Park District vows that the field will be sufficiently watered and ready to go.  Incidentally, the forecast calls for a 60% chance of rain throughout the day and evening on Saturday, so it could be a sloppy game.

Health

Probably the single most important reason the Bears advanced to the NFC Championship game was their incredibly good fortune on the injury front.  If the Bears can get out of the game healthy and without any serious injuries to their key players, that will be more important than the score.

If you’re in the Chicago area, the game will be available on the local Fox affiliate at 7PM.  If you’re out of market (and I know many of our readers are), NFL Network will be re-playing the game at 6PM Central on Sunday evening.  At long last, football is back in full force.  Enjoy and…

BEAR DOWN!!!

 

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