Payton Presser: Injuries overshadow the Bears’ victory
The focal point of the third preseason matchup against the Titans was to see which QB would clarify who would be the starter for the opening of the 2017 season. The plan has always been to start this season with Mike Glennon as rookie Mitchell Trubisky watches and learns for when it’s his time to take over as the franchise quarterback. So just how would Glennon and Trubisky handle the pressure from outside the organization that has been building as the regular season approaches? Aside from the all the quarterback talk, there are many players that are fighting for a spot on the Bears 53-man roster. Plus, all three phases of the team are trying to improve with each preseason game. What started out as a day to evaluate all the talent, answer quarterback questions and see how far the team has come turned into evaluating injures to key pieces of the foundation. Just when you start to have hope, it’s short lived. Let’s take a look at some of the things that jumped out at me in the game against the Titans.
8 vs 10
Coming into yesterday’s game, Glennon had to show us why the Bears brass felt he was the guy to bridge the gap until their quarterback of the future was prepared to take over play calling duties. After two lackluster preseason performances, Glennon knew what was at stake in Nashville. He started out with a bang. Glennon orchestrated a 15-play, 96-yard opening drive which was capped off with a touchdown to Dion Sims. The drive lasted 7 minutes and 44 seconds. Glennon exhibited good command of the offense and accuracy in his throws, completing 7 of 9 passes for 84 yards. It was only one drive, but it was a critical one for Glennon. He would end his day going 11 of 18 for 134 yards and a TD with no interception, which has been his Kryptonite. I saw a quarterback that had a true game plan and felt comfortable with it. I needed to see this kind of outing from Glennon after feeling disappointed in weeks one and two of the preseason. The moment we were all waiting for was to see how Trubisky would fare seeing action with the first unit. He started out a little shaky, but he settled down and made plays as the game went on. The rookie finished the game 10 of 15 for 128 yards and a TD. Trubisky’s play of the day came with 10:47 left in the 4th quarter, connecting with undrafted free agent wideout Tanner Gentry for a 45-yard touchdown pass. His pocket awareness was much better this week and his ability to tuck the ball and run when there’s nothing there was on display as well. Since training camp started, I’ve seen consistent growth from the rookie. Like he said earlier last week, he has progressed faster than the Bears thought he would and that’s a good thing. I think the Bears will go with Glennon to start the season. But mark my words, Trubisky will start before the season is over. I’m predicting week 10 at home against the team from Wisconsin. That would be must-see TV.
Injuries are part of the game, I know. But I can’t take another year like last year. Since the Bears started getting ready for this season, I’ve kept saying they will be a better team than last year IF they can stay healthy. Well, during yesterday’s outing, they suffered some injuries that could affect both offensive and defensive production. The biggest blow to the team came on the final play of the first quarter to Cameron Meredith. Meredith caught a pass over the middle and was hit high and low at the same time by a pair of Titans defenders. He would be carted off the field in a full-leg cast with it later determined that Meredith suffered a torn ACL. I was heartbroken to hear the news about the young man. The 2017 season was going to be a big one for Meredith. Now we just have to pray for a speedy recovery. Cornerback Prince Amukamara has looked good when he was able to get on the field, but he injured his ankle on the first play of the game. Leonard Floyd suffered a foot injury, but from the reports it doesn’t look to be that serious. Bears long snapper Patrick Scales left with a torn ACL and outside linebacker Dan Skuta suffered a concussion. Like I said, injuries are going to happen. I just hope they are nothing like last season. This team can’t afford it.
Competition breeds success
I keep harping on how much I love that Bears GM Ryan Pace has created competition with this year’s squad. By establishing competition, we get a chance to see guys fight for jobs on the 53-man roster. One guy that keeps flashing his game is rookie wideout Tanner Gentry. Gentry’s 45-yard TD catch was one of the biggest highlights of the game. All throughout training camp Gentry has shown his potential to track down the deep ball. With the injury to Meredith, Gentry could see a lot more playing time. Roy Robertson-Harris made a name for himself last week after racking up two sacks. This week he added another highlight to his resume by blocking a punt for a safety. It’s cool to see guys that aren’t household names working hard to make this team.
I really like the Bears defense
I hope I’m not the only one out there that thinks this Bears defense has the chance to be pretty good. The Titans offense didn’t score a touchdown until the first play of the fourth quarter. There is a lot to like when you look at this unit. The front seven continued to show why I said last week they are tough. Vic Fangio’s unit compiled 4 sacks, 5 tackles for losses and 8 quarterback hits. They found ways to put pressure on Marcus Mariota early in the game. One man that is just a beast is Akiem Hicks. He’s a load to deal with and a tough man to block one-on-one. Jerrell Freeman is so steady and solid as a player, he could rack up 100 tackles with his hands tied behind his back. It also looks like rookie Eddie Jackson has the edge over Adrian Amos at the safety position. Staying healthy is the key for this unit and if they can do that, I see a defense that will have a chance to keep this Bears team in a bunch of games this season.
The third dress rehearsal is always the biggest game of the preseason. You really get to see how your talent stacks up against the best from the other team. Sunday, we saw positive aspects in all three phases of the game that this team can build on. The play by Glennon and Trubisky was refreshing. I think the competition between the two has pushed both guys to bring their A-games. Glennon played well enough to secure his starting job in my opinion, but I wouldn’t be upset to see the rookie start. Trial and error is how I see it. The fact that we keep seeing positives in the play from all three phases is encouraging as a fan. Every time I look at the Bears first month of the schedule, I see a big hill to climb. I know how tough it will be to squeeze a win out, but I look forward to seeing this team compete. Just like how we have watched the quarterbacks battle here in Chicago, watching the first units battle it out is the only way we will be able to see how far this team really has come. One more preseason game then it’s time for the real thing. #BearDown
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