LINK to the article Another sorry exhibitionBears' big names sit out, further evidence that 4 preseason games is too many
August 09, 2012|Dan Pompei | On the NFL
There was thunder and lightning at Soldier Field on Thursday night, but none of it was created by big-name quarterbacks.
You could understand why the Bears wanted to keep Jay Cutler in bubble wrap. Cutler had nothing to gain by playing Thursday.
He did have something to lose, however. He could have gotten hurt, and missed games, and cost the Bears a chance to achieve their goals.
You also can understand why fans who paid a minimum of $76 per ticket felt like they were taken advantage of. They were, by a system that is set up to disappoint customers.
Lovie Smith might have been amped about seeing Matt Blanchard play, but the guy wearing face paint and an orange poncho in the north end zone seats clearly was not.
If there was a legitimate reason for Cutler to sit, the reason was not evident. His fiancee gave birth to their son Wednesday morning, so Kristin Cavallari likely would not have been up to get under center.
But Cutler was with the team and warming up before the game. He was prepared enough and healthy enough to play.
He just didn't have a reason to play.
That's the problem with preseason games. Four of them are too many.
If the Bears had only two exhibition games scheduled, Cutler would have been playing Thursday night.
Instead, the hearty fans who were not dissuaded by bad weather
or bad football were given a full plate of backup quarterbacks.
Jason Campbell started the game and didn't make much of an impression.
Cutler, he was not. There were no spectacular throws that inspired high-fives. And there were no puzzling passes that ended up in the hands of bad guys.
He threw only five passes and completed four of them but averaged 2.6 yards per attempt.
"We were going up against a tremendous defense," Campbell said. "We're not trying to do anything to really show our hand or show what we have right now. ... This is our first day out here — it's my first time playing in 10 months, so we just have to get back going again."
Josh McCown was similarly unspectacular, completing six of his 10 passes for 56 yards and failing to generate a single point in four drives.
Blanchard, it turned out, provided Bears fans with the most excitement of all the quarterbacks.
The undrafted free agent from Lake
Zurich led the Bears to their only scoring drive of the night and completed six of seven passes in the fourth quarter. The roster longs shot was on his way to becoming the next darling of Soldier Field until he was intercepted by former Bears corner Joshua Moore late in the game.
The Broncos, meanwhile, had a more entertaining quarterback situation. PeytonManning
played in his first game for the Broncos and his first game since the end of the 2010 season. And Caleb Hanie made his Broncos debut against his former team.
If you were looking for Manning to air it out and prove his arm
was back after neck surgery, you were disappointed. He barely got his arm loose and never took a hit in what was more or less a cameo appearance.
In his only series, Manning was efficient and effective for before a tipped pass ruined his statistics.
The Bears robbed him of points after Manning took his team 60 yards. His pass for Eric Decker in the end zone was batted by D.J. Moore, and Major Wright made a diving interception just outside the end zone.
Along the way, Manning had a pretty 19-yard completion, as well as a soft sideline pass for 10 yards on a comeback.
Broncos coach John Fox called it a "very good first outing" for Manning. "He was remarkable," Fox said. "He came back — he's worked very hard. He hasn't played football in (almost) two years."
Up next was Hanie, who was booed lustily by Bears fans who have clung to unpleasant memories from last December.
Perhaps they forgot Hanie was a preseason star in past years for the Bears. He could have helped them again Thursday.
Fighting for the No. 2 job on the Broncos, and maybe a roster spot, Hanie led his team on a 57-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. The highlight was Hanie's 20-yard pass to tight end Cornelius Ingram off play action.
Hanie completed 7 of 14 passes for 79 yards.
And on this night, that was a virtual quarterback light