Chicago Bears Early Look Preseason Edition Week 4: Cleveland Browns
Aug 23, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs in for a touchdown in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: The 2-1 Chicago Bears take a trip to Cleveland this week to meet the 0-3 Cleveland Browns in a matchup that should provide some quality insight into both teams’ rosters. The Browns have struggled to find consistency thus far in the preseason and the clock is definitely ticking. After losing by just a single point to both the Lions (13-12) and Redskins (24-23), the Browns were absolutely crushed 33-14 by the St. Louis Rams last week. That might seem harsh, considering that the Bears were also drubbed by the Seattle Seahawks to the tune of 34-6, but there are a couple of factors that lead me to believe that the Bears are further along than their opponents. First of all, the Bears lost to the Seahawks who are defending Super Bowl champions and have one of the strongest rosters in the NFL, where as the Browns lost to a largely mediocre (though they are getting better) Rams team that just aren’t on the same level. Secondly, the Bears had bright spots that I saw that were not reflected on the score board, but I saw far less watching the hapless Browns.
Injuries: Corner back appears to be the chief concern for the Browns this week, as two of their top three players at the position did not play last week. While I don’t expect Joe Haden to play much (if at all) in this one even if he is healthy, if nickel back Buster Skrine doesn’t suit up it could spell disaster for Cleveland. I for one hope he is able to play in this contest, because I think it will help the Bears evaluate the lower end of their wide receiver depth to have them go against bona-fide NFL talent.
Players to Watch: Keep an eye on both teams wide receivers this week. The Bears still have to find a reliable third option at the position in the wake of Marquess Wilson’s injury, while the Browns still need to settle on their top two with game breaker Josh Gordon likely to miss at least part of the season with a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. As much as it pains me to say it, I’ll also have my eye on Johnny Manziel. “Johnny Football” has been talked about ad nauseam this offseason, especially for a player who’s not even going to start, but he is a dynamic football player. He should help to give us some insight into how the Bears will do handling mobile quarterbacks during the season.
The Way I See It: With 6th round rookie David Fales expected to start and play at least most of this game for Chicago, I really don’t expect the Bears to win this one. That having been said, I’m still excited to see how he fares and if he can show the coaching staff enough to earn a spot on the final roster. I’m also the sort of person who takes a lot of interest in how NFL teams build their roster, so seeing the guys on the roster bubble get a chance to show what their worth before final cuts always makes the last week of the preseason a special treat for me.
What do you guys think? Did I miss anything you think is important? Who will you be watching?