Where: Soldier Field
When: Saturday, August 25, 12:00 pm CT
Line: Bears -2
The Chicago Bears finally picked up a win last week, defeating the Broncos in the Mile High City by a score of 24-23, thanks to some late-game heroics from Chase Daniel and Cre’Von LeBlanc.
They sit at 1-2 so far heading into their fourth game (third for everybody but Chicago and Baltimore), which will be the “dress rehearsal” in which the starters play into the second half, meaning it should be the most interesting and meaningful rendition of August football to date.
Here’s what to watch for as the Bears take on the Kansas City Chiefs, in the first installment of football at Soldier Field in 2018.
1st Down: Cleaning up the offense
The Bears’ first-team offense certainly improved from their first time out against Cincinnati, producing points for the first time this year. This should be expected with Allen Robinson and Jordan Howard joining the group but there were still a couple of annoying mishaps. Mitch Trubisky mishandled a snap that cost the Bears two points. Tarik Cohen ran a poor route that resulted in an interception. An obvious holding on Charles Leno made a promising drive come to a screeching halt.
It’s these little things that can cost a team dearly come the regular season, which is why the preseason exists, so the teams can clean up those mistakes. On Saturday, we should see a Bears team that looks much more comfortable in their new offense, albeit a very vanilla version. Trubisky especially should be running the group with more ease, and he should look like he isn’t thinking nearly as much.
But remember one thing when watching the Bears’ first phase: a great deal of their new offense is being hidden. The real version will be revealed in Green Bay.
2nd Down: Battle for outside linebacker reps
Tomorrow’s game should shed further light on which of the Bears’ competing outside linebackers will make the roster and receive meaningful playing time during the regular season. Kasim Edebali has impressed as of late but the Bears would love it if a younger edge rusher like Kylie Fitts or Isaiah Irving stepped up and showed them something. Or maybe even Aaron Lynch, if he’s healthy. Or alive.
Come to think of it, was there even an Aaron Lynch? Or is the concept of Aaron Lynch purely a myth? If he is real, he has to show something soon or he’s in danger of not making final cuts and leaving even more of a gaping void at outside linebacker.
If none of these things happen, or even if they do, the Bears will have to go get an edge rusher once final cuts are made. Whether it be a low-level waiver claim or you know who, the Bears need some kind of threat across from Leonard Floyd. They would just prefer it if it was someone already on the team.
3rd Down: All the weapons are here
Allen Robinson will play. Taylor Gabriel, nursing a lower-body injury for the past few weeks, has begun to practice and could very well play. Trey Burton, Howard, and Cohen will all be there, though the last one will be hidden for most of the game. This is the first time all preseason where we get to see all of the Bears’ new toys in action, which should make for a riveting contest.
4th Down: Final thoughts and prediction
All this being said, it’s imperative not to overreact to preseason sample sizes. If the offense struggles or makes careless mistakes, the latter of which happened last week, it is nowhere near the end of the world, even in the “dress rehearsal” game. Cohen’s capabilities will not be unleashed, nor will much of the playbook and Nagy’s creativity.
Still, it will be interesting to see the first team offense and defense play into the second half. On the other side, Patrick Mahomes and an electric Kansas City offense will be a joy to watch, and the new coach going against his former team narrative always makes for intriguing stuff.
I would bet (I wouldn’t ever bet on a preseason game unlike a certain Bears writer on this staff but if I were a betting man this is what I’d do) on a Chiefs victory, but I think we’ll come out of Saturday’s game feeling very upbeat about what the Bears’ first-team offense can accomplish in 2018.
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