Not much is expected from the Bears this season, especially following a preseason effort which would leniently be described as “disappointing”. Most prognostications place the ultimate record of the team at somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8. And not many placed one of those wins at the expense of the Houston Texans, the Bears’ opponent in the regular season opener. To that extent the Bears did not surprise in their 23-14 loss Sunday afternoon.
What the Bears “are” and what they “are not” has been fairly well established from the beginning of training camp. It was postulated that offseason additions would improve the front-7. It was hoped that a shaky OL would be improved through the additions of Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen and draft pick Cody Whitehair. The return to health of 2015 1st round pick Kevin White and slot receiver Eddie Royal as well as the continued health of Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Miller should equal an improved receiving corp., despite the subtraction of TE Martellus Bennett. If a young, inexperienced secondary could develop, some combination of Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard could replace the production of Matt Forte, and Jay Cutler could at least remain efficient, the Bears might be able to improve off last season’s 6-10 mark. Plus John Fox has a track record of significant improvement in his 2nd year on a job.
Through training camp or the preseason these notions were still fairly established, if a bit unclear. The OL still looked shaky but the late addition of Josh Sitton could solidify the interior. Injuries to Royal and Miller prevented their participation through most of the preseason but what they are was pretty well-established. More concerning was that outside the 4th preseason White did not show very much. If Cutler had improved or at least remained steady was unclear due to the performance of the WRs and the OL. But when given time to throw he looked pretty good, as did the young RBs vying to replace Forte.
But it’s always difficult to tell exactly what should be taken away from preseason games. Most of it is utterly meaningless for the regular season. So now that the Bears have played, what did we learn?
Below the Bears preseason performance is broken down into 3 categories: The Good, The Bad and the What the @&#!? I think these categories are fairly self-explanatory.
- Eddie Royal came back from the concussion which limited him all preseason and looked good. If he can stay healthy (probably not) Royal looks to be a solid option in the slot for Cutler.
- And as Alshon Jeffrey is currently healthy he once again demonstrated the possibilities he opens for the Bears offense. Even though he did drop a key pass on 3rd down.
- Jerrell Freeman Danny Trevathan showed why they are such a huge improvement at ILB over the starters from last season. They combined for 28 tackles, with Trevathan contributing a sack, and were all over the field making plays.
- It’s also encouraging to see Leonard Floyd get to the QB.
- The Texans had 5 sacks and 13 hits on Jay Cutler. Too often the interior of the Bears’ OL had trouble with line stunts other movement by the Texans. This may be explained by the inexperience of Sitton, Whitehair and Long playing together but it’s still concerning. But the play of Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, Jr. is more concerning because they were both really bad. It looks like the Bears kept primarily blocking TEs along with a FB because they knew help was needed on the outside.
- And they must do a better job of opening holes for Langford and the rest of the RBs.
- Where was the pressure on Brock Osweiler? For most of the game it was nonexistent and the only thing that saved the Bears was bad throws by Osweiler. The Bears only had 2 sacks and 8 QB hits. Trevathan had 1 sack, the other was shared by Eddie Goldman and Leonard Floyd. The OLBs must do a better job providing pressure. If the Bears have to rely on blitzing in order to generate a pass rush this will be a long season.
- Because the secondary is bad. That’s not news, it’s just a fact. With Kyle Fuller still out due to knee surgery the secondary was already depleted. And they were consistently beat by DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The Bears’ CBs were beat deep any time the Texans wanted. It should have been worse than it was, but Osweiler missed. Plus Jacoby Glenn who started for Fuller had to leave the game.
What the @&#!?:
- Jay Cutler made plenty of mistakes yesterday, but the interception wasn’t one of them. Kevin White quit on the play. And that was the most significant thing he did all day. He had 34 receiving yards. At some point White simply has to show more than he has to this point. He looked good in the final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns but it’s looking like that was because he was playing the Cleveland Browns.
Some other Bears takes from the game:
- Chicago Tribune
- Chicago Sun Times
- Pro Football Weekly
- ESPN Chicago
- The Athletic Chicago
- CSN Chicago
- CBS Chicago
- Windy City Gridiron
- Bears Wire