The first normal preseason game of the Bears’ season, as every team except them and the Baltimore begins to play this week, was a mixed bag of sorts.
There was some good, but there was also some bad. Some bubble players shined and pulled themselves closer to a roster spot, and some took a step towards starting September without a job. As always in the preseason, it is important to avoid knee-jerk reactions and rash conclusions because so many variables can cause poor or excellent play wherein a regular season game it may not have happened.
With that being said, these are my thoughts on the Bears’ defeat in Cincinnati.
1. The Bears’ first-team offense looked pretty bad, but that’s nothing to be concerned about right now.
Like I said, overreactions run rampant in exhibition games. Once the Bears failed to pick up any steam offensively in their first couple drives, some fans who were no doubt very excited to see the new offense in action became monstrously disappointed and may have been ready to riot.
However, there are many elements missing from Matt Nagy’s group that will be present once the regular season comes along. Four of them are obvious – Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen. When your four best offensive weapons are out of the game, chances are things will not go very well for you. And they didn’t, with Kevin White dropping a perfectly thrown third and long would-be completion from Mitch Trubisky and failing to make an impact. Trubisky struggled to find anybody open downfield, and it didn’t help that Geno Atkins made his presence felt early.
Also absent was the grand scheme that Nagy will employ come September. The misdirection, the trickery, the different looks, and the creativity were all gone because giving your opponents tape on your brand new offense in games that don’t matter is a terrible idea. Bears fans shouldn’t fret and should remain in joyful anticipation about what will come.
2. Don’t worry about the defense either, because their failures were the fault of two players who shouldn’t make the team.
Boy, was I wrong about Marcus Cooper. I’m not sure I’ve been more wrong about something. Not just in sports, but in anything. And this is coming from somebody who thought from ages 9-15 that a borderline balding buzz cut looked good.
Since he came to the Bears, he has been nothing short of a disaster, and that continued last night. The Bengals decided to target him four or five times on their second touchdown drive, which worked perfectly. If Prince Amukamara was in there and not Cooper, it would have been much more difficult for Cincinnati.
Ditto their opening drive with John Timu, who looked slow and showed a lack of instincts necessary to play the inside linebacker position. Danny Trevathan was a DNP — rest tonight, which made Chicago’s defense look a whole lot worse than he was. He should be cut in favor of keeping an extra outside linebacker, which brings me to…
I’ll start with Edebali, who is the least known of the three listed. He was picked up in June with little fanfare but he showed me something tonight. At least twice he displayed a lightning-quick get-off that could certainly lead to a roster spot. Tonight, he settled for it leading to the backfield for a QB pressure and a run stop for a tackle for loss.
Coward is a 2017 UDFA who Nagy converted from defensive line to offensive line. Working with the second team tackles, Coward used his large frame to clear equally large run lanes all first half. While obviously facing lesser competition, the second offensive line, led by Coward, had a much better performance last night. It was pointed out, correctly, that Coward had a lean that tipped run or pass, but that’s somewhat expected with his transition. If he makes the team, he’s an interesting product that Harry Hiestand could develop into something more.
Houston-Carson knocked down a couple passes and looked so much improved from where he was last season at the safety position, which bodes very well for his long-term outlook. If Houston-Carson can play an adequate backup safety, he’s going to have a long career in the NFL due to his special teams ability. It also all but guarantees him a roster spot on the Bears right now, next to Deiondre’ Hall or Deon Bush at a reserve safety spot.
4. James Daniels should start at Center.
I mentioned this in the paragraph about Coward, but the second team O-line played much better than their starting counterparts, and much of that was due to Daniels. He looked comfortable in his center spot after only a week or two of practice in that position, leading the way for a couple touchdown drives.
His case to start is just as much about Cody Whitehair‘s shortcomings as it is about Daniels’ strengths, though. Whitehair is more of a mauler, someone who fits better at guard where he doesn’t have to be the quarterback of the offensive line, making blitz pickup adjustments and the like for his teammates. He contributed in giving up a sack to Atkins held him on the next play, and had a high snap that Trubisky was able to catch but somewhat delayed the play.
Whitehair would be better suited just putting his head down (figuratively, of course, that phrase in the literal sense would get him a flag and a dangerous injury) and driving guys back from the guard spot whereas Daniels is more apt in a cerebral role at Center. If that move is made, I expect the Bears’ offensive line and run game to be very good. If not, we could see some added difficulty in the offense in the form of mental lapses from Whitehair, which the Bears definitely cannot have right now.
Follow Jack on Twitter: @JS_92_ –Feature Photo Credit: Frank Victores/AP