After long last, the Chicago Bears have played a football game in 2018.
More specifically, the Chicago Bears’ second, third, and fourth strings played a football game, but it’s an exciting time nonetheless.
The Bears fell to the Ravens in a sloppy, low-scoring, turnover-riddled, relatively boring contest. However, there were still many developments to take not of, creating perspective talking points that will more than fill the Bears blogosphere for the coming week and a half until the non-Hall of Fame game preseason opener. Most are geared towards the players at the back of the roster and the bubble, fighting for jobs and starting lineup spots.
Here are my immediate thoughts following last night’s Hall of Fame game.
Matt Nagy’s intentionally vanilla scheme is better than Dowell Loggains’ actual offense.
For the knee-jerk reaction-y type of fanatics who are already starting to fret about how bland Chicago’s offense looks after one preseason game, calm yourselves. The misdirection, trickery, diverse personnel looks, and pre-play motion (and of course, starting players) that will be featured come Week One are hidden for now by Nagy and his offensive staff.
However, somehow Nagy when not even trying to run a modern NFL offense is still more competent than Loggains was during the regular season because Nagy found ways to mix runs and passes in an unpredictable style, even when piloting a basic system of play calls and design. He was noticeably more unpredictable with his ratios than Loggains became down the stretch of yesteryear, which is an extremely encouraging sign for hopeful Bears fans.
The Front Four looked good all game.
When your team accumulates eight sacks, generally your defensive front will look good on tape, as I’m sure will be the case when I review the game film in a couple days when it’s available in full. The Bears’ attackers on the line of scrimmage dominated a thin Ravens offensive line, which is huge in two aspects.
First, the interior guys. Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris started the game in spots normally to be occupied by Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman. Bullard showed his immense potential with a strong burst off the line of scrimmage, including a play where he was into the backfield well before any of Minnesota’s lineman, other than the center, of course, had taken a step.
Robertson-Harris displayed a promising bull rush resulting in a sack as well. In the later stages of the ballgame, Bilal Nichols and Cavon Walker made their early cases for playing time as well with solid performances.
Perhaps more vital to Chicago’s success this season was the early play of the depth edge rushers. Isaiah Irving, who I’ve admittedly brushed aside as camp depth in my offseason writing, started to prove me wrong as he looked quicker than anyone on the field in his pass rushing onslaught.
Kylie Fitts, making his pro debut, took a while to settle in but in the second quarter was a terror to the Ravens’ offense, showcasing an intriguing size/speed/strength combination. Over the offseason, I stressed repeatedly the importance of the back-end front 7 guys making contributions and tonight was an excellent start.
Javon Wims showed me something.
Coaches always tell their players competing for spots, at any level, to “show me something,” with their effort and play style in practice and preseason games. Wims did that today and he did it throughout the second half. After a first 30 minutes where Bennie Fowler put on a show for all the wrong reasons, Wims stepped in and was the most impressive player of the night for the Bears.
He seemed beyond his years in his routes, his hands, and most extraordinarily, his ball skills, with which he made the play of the game on a Tyler Bray pass that he flat out stole from his man. He high pointed it perfectly despite being out of position and physically overpowered the Ravens’ corner in making the play.
Mitch Trubisky better stay healthy.
Chase Daniel is on this team for a reason. He knows the offense, he’ll help his younger, vastly more talented counterpart learn it, and he’s a nice veteran presence in a very juvenile Bears locker room. There is one problem, though. At least based on what I saw tonight, he is not good. At all.
In fairness, Daniel didn’t have much help, going behind a backup group of lineman and throwing to a heavily subpar group of skill position guys. However, his play didn’t help make up for the deficiencies around him whatsoever. Daniel tended to backpedal hard whenever the slightest bit of pressure reached him, resulting in underthrown, often errant footballs that sailed out of bounds, or in some cases, into defenders’ hands.
If Daniel doesn’t see the field this season, he will be a fairly valuable part of this team because of the wisdom he can offer Trubisky as part of the quarterback incubator the Bears have built around their franchise signal caller. If he is forced into action, however, the Bears are in deep, deep trouble.
Follow Jack on Twiter: @JS_92_ –Feature Photo Credit: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune