Let’s be honest Bears fans, week one of the preseason was awful on both sides of the ball and reflected in the score. The silver lining was it was week one of preseason with three more games to improve. This week the Bears traveled out east to practice with the Patriots, before we get into the presser let’s talk about the three workouts with Pats. Practicing with the Pats was the best thing that could have ever happened for this team and organization that is trying to reshape their identity. If you want to be the best, you have to play against the best. Like them or not, the Pats have done something that we all want…win and win consistently. I’ve said this over and over, but since Ryan Pace took over as GM I think he has visions of this Bears team being the Midwest version on the Pats. What I mean by that is how this organization evaluates and drafts talent. The Bears brought the fight with them on the plane from Bourbonnais. Is the fighting an issue? Right now no, but if this type of behavior carries over to the regular season it could be problematic. However, I think John Fox likes his group is a little testy. The game of football is about dominating the opposing player with force. Once you are in between those white lines you’re not playing paddy cake, so to see this team with a little edge is okay with me. Last night the Bears lost 23-22, much improved from their week one outing. Now let’s take a look at my takeaways from last night’s game.
1. The offense is a work in progress.
One of the biggest question coming into game 2 of the preseason was would we see any improvement with the Bears offense? After watching the No. 1 offense produce just 13 yards and one 1st down on 10 plays over three possessions in week 1, all I was praying for was to see this offense find the end zone. The offense had some solid drives last night, a few penalties, but all-in-all things were better than week one. Jay Cutler looked more comfortable in his limited time last night completing 5 of 6 in the first drive. Cutler would finish the game 8 of 12 passing for 83 yards. Alshon Jeffery started his week in New England giving the Pats problems and he didn’t stop last night. I’ve said it and I will say it again, Jeffery is a top 15 wideout in the NFL when he is healthy. He finished the night with 2 receptions for 41 yards. If he can stay healthy and ball out, the Bears will be backing the Brinks truck up to his house. I’m still waiting on the Kevin White explosion, but I understand it is going to take a little time. He just needs more repetitions in live game action so he can understand how DB’s want to play him. This offense will get better with a little time. I just want to see the more skilled guys taking advantage of their opportunities so there can be more depth and weapons for Cutler to have at his disposal.
2. Ask for a running back to stand out and you shall receive.
Last week I wrote about how I wanted a Bears running back to stand out from the pack and last night one stuck out. Jeremy Langford really made a statement made a statement that he should be the go to back, even if it is by committee. I really like Langford’s running style, his vision and ability to cutback. He would have 8 rushes for 55 yards, 1 TD and his longest run of the night was 34 yards…how fitting. I think we know he can run the ball, we just need to see him take the next step in pass protection and catching the ball. Rookie Jordan Howard showed me something as well. He runs hard and does it running north and south. I’m pulling for that young man because I think he is a great complement to Langford. He finished the night with 11 carries for 46 yards. As he gets a better understanding for the offense and gets more repetitions we should see him carve out his spot in the backfield.
3. The O-Line looked better
The Bears O-Line needed a bounce back game after last week’s poor showing. I think a big reason they improved was their work against the Pats all week, along with watching practice and game film. The protection was better and by the numbers from the running game, there were holes for the running backs to get through. Cody Whitehair is going to be stud at guard. Just imagine having him and Kyle long as your guards for the next 10 years…wow. The O-Line is still a little thin when you look at the depth, but this coaching staff is going to have a backup plan if there are any serious injuries on the line when the season starts.
4. Can’t wait to watch Jonathan Bullard and Leonard Floyd grow together.
Jonathan Bullard was my favorite player selected in this year’s NFL draft. Watching his University of Florida film, I just knew the Bears were getting something special. His ability to get into the backfield will cause havoc if he can continue that in the NFL. I said the goal was for him to develop fast enough that he could overtake Mitch Unrein. Now add in Leonard Floyd and you have a deadly combo of speed and power. When both guy can be on the same side they can play off each other and help each other get to the end goal of sacking the QB. Let’s just sit back and watch these young men grow.
5. Who will be playing opposite of Tracy Porter?
After last night’s game, John Fox announced that cornerback Kyle Fuller underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday. When asked when Fuller would return, Fox said, “right now he is week-to-week”. This is a critical year for Fuller to show Fox and Pace that be belongs. So now who is going to play alongside of Tracy Porter? Names like Jacoby Glenn, Deiondre’ Hall, DeAndre Houston-Carson and De’Vante Bausby. Basically a bunch of guys with little experience.
6. QB of the future please!
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet everyone. Last week I said Brian Hoyer could be a serviceable backup, but now I’m praying nothing happens to Cutler. To watch how the Pats drafted and developed Jimmy Garoppolo, I can only hope the Bears one day can have a QB of the future. So I guess you can tell I’m a little nervous now about the Backup QB position. Glad I got that off my chest.
The Bears are not close to the team we will see when they kick the season off against the Texans, but they are getting better. As I said, after week 1 the best thing to happen was the Bears practicing versus the Pats. They needed a little push, but they also needed to see how a team that has endured success works. Pace is trying to make the Bears the Pats of the Midwest without cheating though. I see what he is doing with this team and I like it. Talking with my Down and Distance podcast co-host Shaun Davis and he said “this team needs another draft and free agency” and he is right, but I see reasons to be happy about the future of this team. Let’s not forget the Bears 1st strings won the 1st quarter. Fox’s team will leave the east coast with more confidence heading into week 3 when they take on the Chiefs. The hope is we will see more improvement out of this group as the regular season creeps up very soon. #BearDown