Thursday night was a great one for football fans around the country. The Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens squared off in the annual Hall of Fame game. Both organizations had players that will be inducted into the Canton later this weekend in Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis.
For Bears fans, it was their first chance to see the team under rookie head coach Matt Nagy. To say there is excitement in the city of Chicago surrounding the Bears is an understatement. For the first time in a long time, there was a buzz during the team’s training camp.
Despite some rumors, many of the Bears starters did not play in Thursday’s contest.
Large group of Bears stretching on the field. I assume they are not playing tonight. Includes Trubisky, Amukamara, Hicks, Burton, Acho, Long, Whitehair, Floyd, Massie, Callahan, Howard, Cohen, Leno, Daniels, White, Goldman, Robinson, Fuller, Kwiatkoski, Trevathan.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) August 2, 2018
A few more to add to this list … Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson, Kevin Toliver, Sherrick McManis, Anthony Miller pic.twitter.com/t6f6Tv4R10
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) August 2, 2018
Kevin Toliver and James Daniels were most likely held out because the Bears didn’t want to rush them back from minor injuries. As for Kevin White and Anthony Miller, the Bears didn’t want to risk injury, especially given White’s spotty medical history, and the fact that the Hall of Fame game is considered an extra preseason game.
Football is a dangerous sport as it is. Fans shouldn’t have had a problem with the Bears’ decision here.
The Bears started with the ball, and things looked good after a 25-yard catch and run by Joshua Bellamy and a 30-yard run by Benny Cunningham. Wide receiver Bennie Fowler III dropped a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
On the next play, the ball was tipped and intercepted. Chase Daniels and the rest of the Bears offense had a solid drive but failed to score any points. As sloppy preseason football would have it, the Bears got the football right back after a questionable throw by Robert Griffin III. DeAndre Houston-Carson came down with the INT.
No, I’m not really going to go play-by-play, so I’ll list some observations from Thursday night’s game.
Keep in mind that team performances don’t matter much in the preseason. If there is any value in the preseason, it’s with individual performances. Hell, even some individual performances should be taken with a grain of salt. Something to keep in mind as the month of August rolls on.
Pass rush is something that the Bears don’t have enough of heading into the regular season. Isaiah Irving, battling for a roster spot, had a burst on Thursday. He was flying off the edge. If he wasn’t offsides, he would have recorded a sack-fumble. He made up for it on the next drive with a sack that forced the Ravens to kick a field goal. For most on Thursday, Irving was the Bears best pass rusher.
Of course, there was a lot of ugly play in the first preseason game of the year. Tight end Dion Sims was underwhelming, to say the least. After having miscommunication on Daniels’ first interception, Sims was called for holding on the very first play of the next drive. As for Fowler, it was an all-around ugly performance.
On the game’s first drive, Fowler dropped a touchdown in the back of the end zone. He also dropped a few more passes before his night was over. Nothing about Fowler’s game was good. In fact, he looked slow off the line. It was a poor performance for the veteran in his Bears debut.
The Bears offensive line was downright ugly against the Ravens. Daniels was throwing off his back foot for most of the first half. Not many meaningful players were on the field, so it shouldn’t be surprising that this was the case. Still, no team wants to look that sloppy drive after drive.
Kylie Fitts Getting Comfortable
As I mentioned above, Irving was one of the few players that stood out on Thursday. Kylie Fitts looked like he was thinking a bit too much in the first quarter. As the game went on, Fitts became more comfortable and it showed. Who would have thought it would be the pass rush that would be one of the most impressive things to come from Thursday? Not me.
Not much was expected out seventh-round draft pick Javon Wims, but he was all over the field making plays. He should the ability to use his big and long frame to shield defenders to make difficult catches in traffic. Cameron Meredith who?
Wims was unstoppable in the slot. He finished with seven receptions for 90-yards. Again, impressive stuff from the former Georiga Bulldog.
Confirmed! Nice play by Javon Wims to go up n’ get it. Very similar to a catch he made in the National Title game. pic.twitter.com/QH8h9ifROW
— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) August 3, 2018
- Jonathan Bullard was very active. He should earn a lot of playing time in 2018. The key for him is staying healthy.
- Cavon Walker had himself a night. He was able to get pressure on the Ravens’ QBs on a somewhat consistent basis. He was way quicker than I expected. My colleague Andrew Link has been talking him up in one of our chats – now I see why.
- Benny Cunningham was solid in the little work he had. It appears he has the job of the third RB locked up for now. Ryan Nall and Taquan Mizzell didn’t really show much.
- The Bears coaches, players and other personnel stood and interlinked arms for the anthem. There were no protests from either team. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as LB Sam Acho said the team would do whatever they were going to do for the anthem together.
- To be honest, I expected more from rookie QB Lamar Jackson. Despite a few throws, his performance was far from special.
- While that game was pretty ugly, it’s great to have football back.
Follow Nick on Twitter: @TLS_Petrusevski–Feature Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune