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Bears Film Study: Offense Takes Step Forward vs. Broncos

The Chicago Bears got their first victory of the preseason against the Denver Broncos on Saturday night. After the mess that was the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bears’ first-team offense was able to get into a rhythm.

Both Allen Robinson and Jordan Howard suited up, while the offensive line was at full strength as well. Tight end Adam Shaheen did suffer, what at first, looked like a severe ankle injury. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Shaheen suffered a low-ankle sprain based on initial tests.

There will be more tests, but it appears, at the very least, Shaheen will be ready to go week one. The No. 1 tight end on the Bears roster came out healthy after Saturday’s game, which is great news considering his performance. That is where I will begin this film study.

Trey Burton‘s big day

Everything is lining up for Burton to be the Bears’ No. 1 tight end in 2018. He has developed a nice relationship with Mitch Trubisky and may have the best hands on the team. Burton proved just this on Saturday night after catching 4 passes for 45-yards and a touchdown.

Apart of Burton’s success on Saturday was because of the unique play designs by rookie head coach Matt Nagy. On the play below, Trubisky dumps off the ball on a screen-type play to Burton who makes a few nice moves to gain positive yardage.

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At first glance, this may seem like a set screen play to Burton, but after a closer look, we can see that Trubisky actually had three options to go to on this play. Burton was the right choice, given the way the defense defended the formation.

Trubisky could have gone to Anthony Miller up top or Tarik Cohen at the bottom of the screen. Instead, he made the correct choice throwing the ball to Burton, who was uncovered underneath. Nagy’s system is going to give Trubisky options and misdirection, which is a breath of fresh air compared to what the last coaching staff did.

Getting back to Burton, he’s also a damn good run blocker. He and Kyle Long teamed up on a play that opened up a big hole for RB Jordan Howard.

Teams will have to respect Burton as a blocker on the line of scrimmage, which makes his touchdown below possible.

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Again, we have some misdirection, and maybe even an option for Trubisky to hand that ball off if the defense was in a different look. Trubisky to Burton is something you should get used to hearing on Sundays.

RPOs

After a long offseason to study Nagy’s offensive system, it was obvious that RPOs otherwise known as run-pass options were going to be used heavily. On Saturday, the former Chiefs’ OC called quite a few.

If you want to better understand RPOs this is a great place to start:

Trusbisky did a great job of correctly reading the defense at the start of the play to utilize the RPO. We can see that in the video below. Trubisky could have picked up the first down if he himself kept the ball, but decided to hand it off to Howard anyway. Either way, the Bears picked up the first down.

In the future though, Trubisky could get more comfortable with RPOs to easily make the most effective read there, which would have been to hold onto the ball to not only pick of the first down but to also run for a fairly big chunk of yards.

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Here is another play that results in a big gain because of the defense having to respect the RPO.

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Other observations

  • There have been some fans calling for rookie James Daniels to replace Cody Whitehair as the starting center with the first-team offense. For whatever reason, Whitehair has had issues with snapping the football. On Saturday, some believed that it was Whitehair’s fault on the play that resulted in a safety, but after reviewing the tape, it was easy to see that Trubisky deserved most of the blame. Sure, there may have been some miscommunication. However, Trubisky needs to do all he can to hang onto the football in that situation.
  • Kevin White in the backfield? Yes, that did happen on Saturday night. Expect to see other players line up on strange parts of the field as well. Remember, the Nagy offensive scheme is a creative one.
  • The legend of rookie WR Anthony Miller continues. He made an incredible catch over several defenders on Saturday. He finished the night with 3 receptions for 33-yards. The kid out of Memphis is special.

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Follow Nick on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: Jack Dempsey/AP

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Nick is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University and passionate about everything Chicago sports (except the Cubs). He has run his own website, been featured on Bleacher Report, and tried to sell his soul on eBay (which he hasn’t gotten back). He hopes to one day see his beloved Bears win the Super Bowl and is still trying to figure out why Jay Cutler gets so much hate.

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