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posted: 8/24/2012 10:44 PM

Bears don't merit passing grade

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  • Brandon Marshall runs away from Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn during the first half Friday night in East Rutherford, N.Y. Marshall caught 5 passes for 51 yards.

      Brandon Marshall runs away from Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn during the first half Friday night in East Rutherford, N.Y. Marshall caught 5 passes for 51 yards.
    Associated Press

  • New York Giants running back David Wilson (34) is tackled by Chicago Bears' Nick Roach (53) and Henry Melton (69) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

      New York Giants running back David Wilson (34) is tackled by Chicago Bears' Nick Roach (53) and Henry Melton (69) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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In his eight years here, Lovie Smith has made obfuscating something of an art form.

And rare is the day when his need to unnecessarily convolute accomplishes anything other than to aggravate Bears fans.

But in the case of Brian Urlacher's injury, the Bears' head coach is correct in believing that it really doesn't matter at this point how many procedures Urlacher has had, what he's had done and when and where he's had them completed.

All that is relevant right now is getting a handle on when Urlacher will be back and how he'll perform if or when he returns.

That was evident as the Bears played their most meaningful quarters of exhibition football Friday night in New Jersey, and the defense was at its best out of sorts -- and at its worst awful.

If this was real, it certainly wasn't spectacular.

Aside from Julius Peppers -- who continues to look like he will be able to do just about anything he wants when the real games begin -- the Bears' first unit was abused by Eli Manning and the Giants in a game Smith called a "final exam."

The grades won't be good across the board as Pro Bowler Charles Tillman was scorched, the safeties were invisible, the pass rush nonexistent and the linebackers missed Urlacher.

On one sequence of three straight plays, Nick Roach was pinned inside on a long run, cut down by a pulling guard on another big gain, and late getting to Manning with the blitz, resulting in a long gain after a short pass to rookie running back David Wilson, who waltzed past Geno Hayes.

With Roach moving from the outside in to take Urlacher's place, the Bears -- in essence -- must replace two players instead of one, but it also speaks to the lack of depth and planning by ex-GM Jerry Angelo that Roach has to be the choice.

On offense, Jay Cutler looked good finding Brandon Marshall, hardly surprising considering their chemistry. Get used to seeing those two high-fiving this season and celebrating touchdowns.

Other than that, the Bears' offense sorely lacked timing. Cutler wasn't close to sharp as he was under constant pressure and the offensive line struggled to keep the Giants out of the Bears' backfield.

Receivers Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery both dropped TD passes, Jeffery forced a timeout when he lined up in the wrong spot, and tight end Kellen Davis ran a bad route, missed a block and suffered a false start.

And, by the way, the Bears couldn't run the football.

"We just looked off tonight," Cutler said. "Our communication was lacking. We missed some stuff we should have hit. We left a few plays out there.

"We have to get the run game going a little bit. So there is work to be done, but we were right there in the game."

The second half opened with the Bears' first-team offense facing the Giants' second defensive unit, which resulted in some nice runs for Matt Forte, and Cutler marched the Bears down for a field goal.

But outside of Cutler finding Marshall five times for 51 yards, and Peppers being Peppers, there wasn't much for the Bears to brag about on offense or defense.

Even the special teams had problems with a blocked punt and a fumbled kickoff return in the final two minutes of the first half.

As dress rehearsals go, this should be an excellent reminder that the Bears have work to do. Most of the problems going into camp looked like the same problems Friday night.

But if there's a positive, it's that much of that won't matter against the Colts in the opener. They have time to clean up the mental mistakes, and perhaps some of the physical errors.

The bigger concern is whether they have time to get Urlacher back on the field.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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