The Bears and Broncos battled tonight to a 24-23 Bears win, with the starters playing into the second quarter for both teams. Chicago’s starters displayed some exciting qualities in their time in the ball game, while also making a couple crucial mistakes that will have to be cleaned up before the regular season begins.
Here is what I saw in the Bears’ triumph in Denver:
Trubisky watch: some good, some bad
Mitch Trubisky at his best (I refuse to say “good Mitch.” We tried that nomenclature before with another Bears QB) was enough to make Bears fans want the regular season to start ASAP. His finest moment was a ridiculous lob, rolling to his weak side, to Anthony Miller, that was placed perfectly, where only Miller could high-point it. Trubisky also showed fantastic chemistry with new tight end Trey Burton, including a beautifully designed walk-in goal-line touchdown.
Trubisky at his worst was a dropped snap that led to a safety. Center Cody Whitehair has been much maligned throughout training camp, but he snapped it well on this play. Trubisky just dropped it. He threw an interception as well, on a poor route by Tarik Cohen. Trubisky was livid at Cohen for good reason, but that ball should not have been thrown.
Overall, a net positive day for Trubisky, but you’d like to see some of these errors gone by next week.
Related: Burton, Miller look fantastic
I touched on this in the previous paragraphs but Trey Burton and Anthony Miller are names to stash on your bench in fantasy football (don’t let anyone at TLS read this. Our draft is tomorrow night). Those two, combined with Allen Robinson (who played sparingly and was not targeted) and Taylor Gabriel (who did not play) AND Jordan Howard (who also looked very good) are going to be a problem for opposing defenses.
Injury bug bites hard
A serious injury for Adam Shaheen would be devastating and judging by the replay of his twisted ankle, that’s exactly what we’re getting. Shaheen’s tried to plant his right foot and it landed awkwardly along the right sideline, and he had to be carted off the field.
Leonard Floyd had to come out as well, which is one of the worst things that could possibly happen to this team. It was a hand ailment and it didn’t seem too dire but it does not bode well for the Bears’ pass rusher’s outlook for the season.
Second-Team defense looked terrible, especially cornerbacks
Doran Grant and Kevin Tolliver were, to put it simply, roasted in their second quarter action. Courtland Sutton took advantage of Grant for a long pass interference penalty and Tolliver was repeatedly taken advantage of as the Broncos, largely led by Chad Kelly, marched up and down the field for easy scores.
While Sam Acho and Floyd when healthy actually did a nice job getting pressure on the quarterback, Isaiah Irving, and Kylie Fitts were silent all night. Depth on the defensive side of the ball is sorely lacking, on all three levels of the field.
Roy Robertson-Harris, Bilal Nichols stood out for good reasons
Robertson-Harris has staked his claim to the other five-technique spot opposite Akiem Hicks, who rested tonight. He had a sack, his third in the preseason, using his strength to drive a guard back into the quarterback. Nichols held firm in run defense, doing a nice job getting extension from his man and shedding blocks to make tackles while adding a sack and a half as well. I expect both to contribute in the regular season, perhaps more than Jonathan Bullard, who has disappointed.
Helmet Rule update
David Wildman, I hope you’re reading this. I concede that if the helmet rule is called the way it has been called in the preseason, it will be a disaster on unprecedented levels.
However, I highly doubt it will. The refs are overcalling the foul, as they do with most new rules in the preseason, like on Kyle Fuller‘s hit in the first quarter. I’d bet money that in the regular season, a hit like that would not be a penalty.
That being said, the way they’re enforcing the enhanced protections on quarterbacks are terrifying. Bradley Chubb issued a perfectly clean hit on Chase Daniel immediately after a throw that was called for 15 yards. Earlier today, an even worse call was made against the Vikings on a routine sack with no foul play whatsoever. Quarterbacks were already overprotected before these new rules and if this is the case once real game start, it will hurt the league much more than the helmet rule.
-If Cre’Von LeBlanc is returning punts in the regular season, something will have gone horribly wrong.
-Not really late game but after Kasim Edebali‘s impressive showing last week in Cincinnati against the third team, he got reps with the primary backups. Something to watch for in the coming weeks. He added a sack late as well. I would give him a long, hard look at a roster spot.
-Cut Taquon Mizzel now. What’s the point of him being on this team right now? Yes, he caught a touchdown, but throughout the rest of the game, he vastly underperformed, as has been the case through all of July and August.
–James Daniels looked fantastic once again. Third stringers are too easy for him. He should go with the ones next week against Kansas City. The Bears had a need at center and they drafted an NFL-ready center in the second round. This should not be hard.
–Joel Iyiegbuniwe was interesting. He doesn’t have good instincts right now but has an intriguing combination of size and speed. I can easily see him as a special team stud for a long time but he certainly should not be in a regular season game at linebacker right now.
-With eight minutes left into the game, Javon Wims saw his first action, as did Bennie Fowler and Tanner Gentry. Marlon Brown, however, saw time with the first team, as did Kevin White. Their usage is extremely notable and equally odd, as with four roster locks at receiver (Robinson, Gabriel, Miller, and Josh Bellamy). That leaves two open spots, which will be decided amongst those five.
-2018 draft class has been great but none of the UDFAs have stood out to me so far. I expected something from Tolliver or Michael Joseph or Michael Joseph but I don’t see any of this undrafted class making the roster. The one exception is Ryan Nall, who has been a mixed bag. His performance will be something to monitor in the next couple games as the Bears search for running back depth.
-Finally, Chase Daniel, Mizzel, Ben Braunecker, and company put together a valiant effort to pull out a victory in Denver.
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