The Bears dropped their preseason opener against the Panthers last Friday night 24-17 while the Chargers lost at home to the Seattle Seahawks 31-10.
One thing is certain this week, either Mike McCoy of the Chargers or Marc Trestman of the Bears will record their first win as a professional head coach. After that, here are five other things about this game to keep an eye on.
1) How much more playbook has the Bears' offense mastered in one week.
As everyone in the football world is well aware of, Jay Cutler threw an interception on his first play last week. He finished the first quarter by also completing 6 of 8 for 56 yard. The Bears only ran the ball once with the first string on the field but in the postgame press conference it was discovered that there was a madness to Cutler’s method…I mean, a method to Cutler’s madness.
Cutler explained that he changed out of all but one of the called running plays at the line of scrimmage to try and establish a rhythm with the passing game.
In preparing for Thursday night’s game Cutler said, “We're going to get some game planning (Tuesday) afternoon, but still it's the preseason and we're still figuring out exactly what plays we like and what we're good at so we're not going to be game planning like your regular week.”
In other words, the offense still going to be rough around the edges but we should be seeing more than the quick slant. At this time the first team is expected to play the entire first quarter and wide receiver Brandon Marshall is also expected to play.
2) How the Chargers handle being on the road for the first time this season.
Philip Rivers’ goal this week is for the Chargers to begin creating a positive mindset when playing on the road. “It will be a good test for our team to go on the road and play in a tough environment,” he said. “It will be our first test on the road with the noise and all those elements that you have to manage.”
The starting offense for the Chargers made an impressive season debut last Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks, the toughest defense to score against in the NFL last weekend. San Diego put together a 13 play, 74 yard drive to the Seattle 11 and took a 3-0 lead on a 28 yard Nick Novak field goal.
This week the Chargers starters test themselves against the third toughest defense to score against in 2012. After playing two challenging weeks, Rivers and New offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will have a clear picture of how far their offense has progressed this summer.
3) The right side of the Bears’ offensive line.
For the Bears, after evaluating performances in last week’s game against the Panthers they made two major changes to their starting offensive line. Rookies Kyle Long, the Bears top draft pick in 2013 and tackle Jordan Mills, selected in the fifth round will be protecting Cutler on the right side instead of James Brown and J’Marcus Webb.
After his performance against the Panthers and in practice over the past week comments indicate that Webb isn’t just in a fight to start at right tackle, he’s in a fight for a spot on the 53 man roster. More than anyone on the offensive line depth chart, Webb needs to play a strong game.
On the left, Jermon Bushrod is healthy again and will get more game work at left tackle next to guard Matt Slauson.
4) Which down the depth chart receivers will stand out for the Chargers?
Danario Alexander is lost for the season with a torn ACL. Malcolm Floyd was carted off the practice field with a knee injury and will miss the remainder of the preseason. Keenan Allen hurt his knee in practice and his status for Thursday night’s game is up in the air.
So far in his Chargers career all indications are the Robert Meachem is no longer able to, or doesn’t have the motivation to take advantage of available playing time to begin moving back up the receiver depth chart.
Whoever takes advantage of their playing time against the Bears will take a big step towards making the final roster. Any receiver who doesn’t will be waiting for the axe to fall next week when the Chargers look to bolster the position with a veteran free agent.
5) Watch for progress from the Bears' rookies after their encouraging performance last week.
Yes, it was only the first game of the preseason but a number of rookies on the Bears’ roster drew notice after their performance against the Carolina Panthers.
Middle linebacker Jon Bostic was out of position and late reacting to the ball on Brandon LaFell’s first quarter touchdown last week but made up for it on the next series when he read Cam Newton and stepped into the passing lane for his pick-6 touchdown return.
In other comments coming out of training camp this week, while wide receiver Marquess Wilson turned heads with his performance against the Panthers, the coaches also want to see him make an impact on special teams. On kicking plays, take a look for No. 10 and see how many impacts he makes.
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