Sunday, August 29, 2010
Reviewing preseason Week 3 in NFC North
By Kevin Seifert
Let's catch up on the all-important Week 3 of the preseason:
Arizona Cardinals 14, Chicago Bears 9
Preseason record: 0-3
Of interest: The Bears look off. I don't know how else to describe it. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw two interceptions, took four sacks and seemed hesitant on too many throws. In three preseason games, Mike Martz's offense has scored 36 points. Quite simply, it's not ready for the season to start. "I think we came out and put a lot of pressure on Game 3," Cutler said. "And sometimes it doesn't work out like that." I'll say. Meanwhile, the defense spent most of the night on the ropes against a Cardinals offense that has had its own struggles this summer. Late Saturday night, safety Chris Harris tweeted that it "might have been my worst game ever." Among other things, Harris took a poor angle on Stephen Williams' 27-yard touchdown reception. It didn't help that linebacker Lance Briggs left early with an ankle injury.
Local coverage: David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune: "If you're the Colts or another model of NFL consistency, you can dismiss chronic preseason problems as an aberration. If you're the Bears you have no such luxury and likely fear a trend. You certainly sense a familiar doom." The Bears continue to be plagued by uncharacteristic special teams miscues, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com. Saturday night, it was a blocked field goal. And the normally-reliable Robbie Gould hit the left upright from 48 yards. Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers this balance: "It's true the Bears were without Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach, and then Lance Briggs for most of the game. That's like a baseball team without its starting outfield. So we should not be jumping off any skyscrapers today."
Next: Thursday at Cleveland Browns
Detroit Lions 35, Cleveland Browns 27
Preseason record: 2-1
Of interest: The Lions were trailing 27-21 when starters departed midway through the third quarter, the result of some shoddy defense but an offense that continued to display explosive potential. Running back Jahvid Best sprinted 51 yards on his only carry, and quarterback Matthew Stafford connected for a nice 7-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson. But the defense allowed Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme to complete 20 of 25 passes. Other than a couple of big hits from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, along with cornerback Chris Houston's 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown, it was an alarming outing for the defense. Middle linebacker DeAndre Levy's early groin injury surely didn't help matters.
Local coverage: Stafford said the offense has "done a good job in preseason as a unit, executing and playing fast," according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. Best only had one carry because he felt "tight," after the first drive, according to coach Jim Schwartz via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News on the defense: "Unless the line can rush the passer, tackle runners and occasionally destroy an opposing offense, the defense will have a hard time avoiding less-pleasant crowd noise, the kind that rhymes with "'Suuuh.'"
Next: Thursday vs. Buffalo Bills
Minnesota Vikings 24, Seattle Seahawks 13
Preseason record: 2-1
Of interest: Receiver Percy Harvin played only after passing a final medical test Friday night. He said doctors believe they have pinpointed the causes of his migraine headaches and have given him a better plan to deal with them. He gamely pushed through 14 plays and took two hard hits that had him twisting his neck on the sideline. Meanwhile, the Vikings started rookie Chris Cook at right cornerback and my amateur eyes saw nothing to suggest he isn't ready to be their Week 1 starter. It was notable that Asher Allen served in the nickel and veteran Lito Sheppard was playing with the third team late in the fourth quarter.
Local coverage: Quarterback Brett Favre was thrilled to see once-and-current teammate Javon Walker's 25-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com suggests that Tyrell Johnson will win the competition with Jamarca Sanford for the starting strong safety job. Coach Brad Childress was planning to watch tape of the game before deciding whether starters will play in Thursday's preseason finale, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Next: Thursday versus Denver Broncos
Earlier: Our review of the Green Bay Packers' 59-24 victory against the Indianapolis Colts.