Payton Presser: The Bears have a foundation to build on

Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (29) rushes against Atlanta Falcons defenders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, yesterday was the moment we had all been waiting for. Maybe the moment we’ve all been waiting for since last season ended. We all walked into yesterday’s home opener with a bad 3-13 taste in our mouths. But we also had the feeling of hope. John Fox’s team kicked off the season with a true test, the defending NFC champs. It was good to watch this team get tested out of the gate to show us how far along this team has come. From the looks of things, there are a few things we can hang our hats on in the 23-17 loss to the Falcons yesterday. I know there is no such thing as moral victory. But if you can learn from the losses, then you give yourself the chance to grow. Let’s jump into my takeaways from yesterday’s game. 

Can’t place the blame on Glennon

“Mike Glennon is who the Bears thought he would be and he’s the starting QB.” Please inert the Denny Green voice in that last sentence. But really, it is true. When the Bears signed Glennon in the offseason, they wanted a guy that would take care of the football and be a game manager. The reason why I say that is because the play calling the first half was very conservative. That would change in the second half of the game when the Bears aired it out a little bit more. He is who he is and that’s not knocking him by any means. He did have the chance to win the game Sunday, but his intended targets couldn’t bring it home for him on the final drive. Glennon finished the day going 26 of 40 for 213 yards and a touchdown, and had a passer rating of 86.8. The biggest plus was he took care of the football, with no interceptions. I’m not going to be one of the guys saying, “Well, if Trubisky was in the game, we would have won.” You know the whole, “If ifs and…,” well let’s just leave it there. Trubisky’s time will come, just be patient. Right now, we have to go with who’s the starter. But, as we know, the depth chart can change at any time. That’s why they write it in pencil. 

Tarik Cohen is a baller 

Coming into this season, we all knew that the Bears would have to run the football. The question was, would they commit to running the ball with their stable of running backs? Yesterday, we saw the start of something special with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The game was all about Cohen. The Bears used him all over the field. With his ability to pick up the offense so well, it makes him very valuable to this offense. The young man took a bunch of hard hits, but the rookie kept on getting up. What else would you expect from a running back coming out of the SWAC? The rookie stood out Sunday finishing with 5 carries for 66 yards and 8 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.  The surprise of the day came right before the half when Cohen lined up as the QB in the Wildcat formation and gave the ball to Howard on the read option for the 4-yard touchdown. Plays like that show how far along he is with picking up the Bears offense. His 46-yard run was so impressive. Cohen reversed field and trusted his legs and vision to make a spectacular play. I have said that I think he is a special player and hearing from his teammates after the game in the locker room, this is just the beginning of the human joystick. I’m still just trying to figure out why he was only on the field for 1 of the final 4 plays of the game. At least have him out there as a decoy. I’m just saying. 

Trust the Bears defense 

Yesterday I tweeted that the Bears defense is the rock of this team. They knew they were going to be tested going up against last year’s most explosive offense. They held their own and kept the Bears in the game. The front 7 had a lot to do with keeping this game close. They forced the Falcons offense into a handful of three and outs. After giving up a few short runs in the first series of the game, the front 7 would tighten up and shut down the Falcons explosive rushing attack, holding them to just 64 yards for the game. The man behind the front 7 is Akiem Hicks. Hicks kicked off his new deal with two sacks. Jerrell Freeman finished the day with 10 tackles (7 solo) and Kyle Fuller had 6 tackles (5 solo). Were they perfect yesterday? No, not by any means. They have to shore up their pass defense which was an issue in the first half.  The secondary was playing a lot of zone coverages that led to the Falcons shredding the Bears defense for 308 yards. My biggest lingering concern about this defense is they haven’t shown me they can create turnovers.  I said in the last Payton Presser that the Bears defense is going to be a work in progress. The fun part is watching them grow into a stronger unit as the season moves along. 

Kevin White can’t catch a break

If you would have told me that Kevin White would be done for the season before the season opener would even end, I would have told you you’re crazy! That’s exactly what happened Sunday. White left the game with a little under 9 minutes to play. The reports are that White might have broken his collarbone and require season-ending surgery. White missed his whole rookie season after suffering a stress fracture in his shin. After playing the first 4 games of the 2016 season, White suffered a fractured fibula in the same leg, and spent the rest of the season on IR. It hurt my heart because White never planned to be injured his first three years in the NFL. I know where he was selected back in 2015. But if you watched his film from West Virginia, you would have seen a guy that was a project pick because of his physical makeup. Not sure what the cards hold for him in his future, but I hope he can stay on the field so he can prove, not to us, but to himself that he can play in the league. 

I have to say that I haven’t been so positive about a loss in a long time. I hate to lose and even more I hate to see my favorite team lose. But if yesterday is an early measuring stick, then Ryan Pace has this team going in the right direction. It’s great to see guys that your general manager brings in to the organization via free agency and the draft excel and make strides. The one thing that stood out in Sunday’s matchup against the Falcons was this team is prepared to fight. Watching how this team adjusts to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they are able to study the Bears gameplan, especially on offense, will be interesting. Cohen had a monster game, but teams are going to try to take him out of the gameplan and you will have to have another solution. The game of football is all about adjustments. It’s also about building on what you did the week before in hopes of winning enough games to take home some hardware. The Bears are not close to that point just yet. But they are showing us that we should trust the process and see how this team can grow throughout the season. After Sunday’s game, my head is not submerged in the Kool-Aid, but I’ve got my glass in hand. The best part is that 3-13 taste is gone for now. See you guys next week. #BearDown