I’m not sure how you viewed the 2017 Bears before training camp. But after only three wins last season, I can understand if it was with skepticism. What the Bears are trying to do now is earn back our trust. It’s not that I’m ungrateful. I’m truly blessed to have a mini Lombardi Trophy in my basement. I walk by it every day and it reminds me of the good times. The only thing is, the past was great but I need new memories with this organization. I’ll take being relevant in our own division first. The one thing that is giving me hope is the competition that Ryan Pace has created this season. There are battles that are happening in all three phases of the football which in the long run will only pay off. Time now to break down a few of the things that jumped out at me from Saturday’s 24-23 preseason win over the Cardinals.
1. 1st string QB vs the future 1st QB
Let’s first address the elephant in the room. Coming into the Bears second preseason game, all eyes were on how Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky would produce. Glennon was hoping for a bounce back game after a lackluster performance against the Broncos. Trubisky, on the other hand, was looking to recreate the magic from a week ago vs. the Broncos. Honestly, both guys played just OK. Glennon finished 13-for-18 for 89 yards and a 7-yard TD pass to Kendall Wright. That would come vs Arizona’s second string defense. Still the same old story with Glennon. From what I’ve seen over the last few games has been his inability to get the ball out of his hands fast enough. That was the case with his late throw intended for Wright that was picked off by Tyrann Mathieu. I wanted to see more out of Glennon. Trubisky was nowhere as electric as he was in the preseason opener, but he was efficient. Trubisky completed 6 of 8 passes for 60 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The rookie was under a lot of pressure in his second outing. He was pulled down by facemask, sacked twice and took a hit below his knee. That’s the issue with having him in with 3’s and 4’s. That’s your future franchise QB going up vs. guys trying to make a name for themselves. The next step I want to see Trubisky take is some burn with the 1st unit. My feelings are the same about Trubisky from last week. The rookie still has a ways to go, but watching him progress in the right direction gives me hope. Glennon wanted to create distance in the QB race after Saturday’s game but he didn’t. He just left Bears fans clamoring for #MoneyMakingMitch.
2. Bears defense take another step forward
You know the old saying “defense wins championships,” right? Well, in the case of the Bears, we scale it back a little. Defense can win you your division. Defense coordinator Vic Fangio has done a great job building this defense with the players he was given. While missing five potential starters in the game Saturday, you could see the potential for this unit. Watching young players on this roster making plays is encouraging. Jonathan Bullard keeps making plays behind the line of scrimmage. This is a “prove it” year for the former third round pick. Leonard Floyd, ladies and gentlemen, is a star in the making. The pressure on the AZ QBs was the big takeaway from the game. The first unit is still looking for more takeaways, but I see that coming as the front seven keeps making the opposing QBs uncomfortable in the pocket. Roy Robertson-Harris recorded back-to-back sacks later in the game as well. Seeing the youth on this team making plays is what Ryan Pace envisioned this upcoming season. Veteran safety Quintin Demps and rookie Eddie Jackson have the potential to be special on the back end of the Bears defense. There is a lot to like about this Bears defense. The unit is gonna have to carry this team in 2017. Just enjoy following their process.
3. Tarik Cohen showed out
With Jordan Howard missing the trip to AZ with an eye issue, the stage was all Tarik Cohen’s to show what he could do. The rookie RB got the start and made plays from the start. He carried the ball 11 times for 77 yards. He showed great vision, quickness and burst through hole. His bread and butter are toss plays. Getting the rookie in space is deadly. Cohen is a tough little guy and doesn’t mind running downhill through the A gap. His versatility is going to bring something special to the Bears offense. There is no RB controversy going on guys, but the Bears have another weapon for their backfield.
4. The special team being special
The one thing that we have seen over the years has been the decline of special teams play. Since the Fox and Pace era started, the special teams has been the non-existent third phase of the game. It’s not all Jeff Rodgers fault. He’s had to work with the players that he is given. With the competition on this roster, it has guys truly fighting for roster spots and we all know that the best way to make a team if you’re not a starter is on teams. Last night, I saw a guy show what he’d bring to the table in special teams. Deonte Thompson’s 109-yard touchdown return on a missed field goal was fun to watch and reminded me of the great memories Devin Hester gave me over the years. The Bears are going to need their special teams to take a giant leap forward this season. The third phase of the game is so important and sometimes forgotten about.
The Bears have a ways to go before they are contending for a division title, but they have some players that could be the foundation for Ryan Pace to build with. The competition that is going on within positions is exactly what this team needs to move forward in this building process. The strength of this Bears team is the defense. Watching them grow is going to be fun, but their success depends on if they can stay fairly healthy during the season. When it comes to the QB situation, you have the choice to stick with the plan or shake it up a little bit. The last two preseason games have left me wanting to see more out of Mike Glennon. Trubisky has been consistent but its time now to see him with the first unit. I just want to see how he would fare with top tier talent. I think Glennon will get the start week one. But I believe Trubisky will see the field later in the season. God knows there will be many ups and downs, but it will make him better. I think he is mentally strong enough to take the good days with the bad ones and grow from them both. When it comes to how this team will play this upcoming season, we can all make predictions on what we think their record will be by December. This team should see improvement from last year. Record watching is fun and it’s something that we all do. But this year I’m keeping my eye on the young players that seem to be making names for themselves and hopefully become fixtures of the Bears turnaround in years to come. #BEARDOWN
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