Football officially returned to Chicago on Thursday night.
The Chicago Bears hosted the Carolina Panthers in both team’s first preseason game. Not many starters for either team were out there when things got underway. Last year, the Bears had success by really limiting the amount of time their important players saw in the preseason.
As always, health is the most important thing coming away from these games. Here, I will list my initial takeaways from Bears-Panthers.
Let’s get started.
1. David Montgomery as good as advertised
This kid is going to be a problem for opposing NFL defenses. Montgomery flashed his abilities as a runner and pass-catcher on Thursday. On a drive right before half, Montgomery led the Bears downfield, accounting for 41 of the team’s 49 yards on the drive.
The end result was a stutter-step touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2019
Montgomery reminded me of Le’Veon Bell on that player. His patience, vision, and shiftiness were on full display against the Panthers. I would be shocked if he’s not the Bears’ starting RB by week one.
Thinking about looks with Montgomery and Tarik Cohen on the field at the same time is making me giddy. The Bears should be very careful how they use Montgomery the rest of the preseason. He was on special teams in the third quarter, which was 100% unnecessary.
2. Kicking Competition Has Its Leader
In a bit of surprising turn of events, Elliot Fry took the lead in the kicking competition. He drilled a 43-yard field goal near the end of the half with ease (damn you, Cody Parkey). Eddy Pineiro missed a 48-yarder and looked shaky on his second kick of the night, which was a chip shot.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 9, 2019
Neither kicker was able to create touchbacks on a consistent basis, either. It’s safe to say the Bears’ kicking competition is still WIDE open.
3. Joey Slye (Insert Eye Ball Emojis)
Speaking of kickers, the Panthers’ Joey Slye looked great kicking at Soldier Field. He drilled every single one of his kicks. You better believe Ryan Pace and the rest of his staff will keep an eye on him going forward.
I’ve said this a lot, but never, ever thought I’d pay attention to kickers this closely in the preseason.
4. Deon Bush
Safety Deon Bush did a decent job in the Bears’ playoff game against the Eagles. It’s damn near impossible to replace Eddie Jackson though. He enters 2019 on the last year of his rookie deal, looking to have a solid showing for a potential contract.
He had a good first showing. Bush seemed to have a burst in his step. He also recorded an INT. Aaron Leming brought up a great point – could the Bears use Bush sparingly in 2019 and then sign him this offseason?
If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix plays well, he should get a bigger, more long-term contract somewhere else. That means the Bears will again be in the market for a safety. Let’s just say they may not have to look very far.
5. New Look Defense
Roquan Smith played on the Bears defense for one series and boy did he make his presence known. New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano wasted no time bringing the pressure. The result was a vicious Smith sack.
Get used to it Bears fans.
Pagano is going to bring pressure. He’s not going to sit back waiting for something to happen. He has the players to make things happen.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 9, 2019
6. Punt Coverage…Not Good
It might be time to bring back #BearsSpecialTeams. Their punt coverage unit was consistently awful on Thursday. Chris Tabor has some serious work to do. Again, let’s stop putting David Montgomery out there as well. THERE IS NO POINT.
7. Duke Shelley > John Franklin, Clifton Duck
There have been rumors of Duke Shelley being the Bears guy in nickel packages. The truth is we need to see more reps for him, but he had a solid performance against the Panthers. John Franklin also was good.
Clifton Duck had a rough night.
Shelley needs more reps. Really can’t stress that enough. He can’t be expected to succeed in a regular-season game with the minimal amount of reps played. He’s going to get even more looks this preseason.
8. Tyler Bray, Yikes
The Bears’ offense in the third and fourth quarter was downright ugly. Much of that had to do with the play of quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray is #notgood. He was overthrowing receivers left and right.
He missed open receivers. Just about every bad thing you can do as QB, Bray did. Except throw an interception. Let’s just say he’s a practice squad guy for a reason. Could definitely see the Bears taking a chance on an undrafted QB next offseason.
This will be Bray’s last preseason with the Bears.
-The Bears aren’t the only team around the league looking for kicking help. One player they need to keep an eye on and is currently my top target is Kaare Vedvik. He put on a show tonight and may be worth a draft pick.
Kaare Vedvik now has punts for 53 and 58 yards to go along with his 3-for-3 on FGs and 2-for-2 on extra points.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) August 9, 2019
— Nick Petro (@PetroTLS) August 9, 2019
-Bradley Sowell didn’t look bad at TE. He made some nice plays on offense. Would bet he makes the team based on his versatility alone. Not one tight end stood out, however, which continues to be a concern with Trey Burton’s uncertainty and Adam Shaheen’s inability to stay healthy.
Nick is the editor-in-chief at TheLoopSports.com. He is also a Chicago Sports fanatic, avid sports bettor, fantasy sports nut, and totally didn’t try to sell his soul on eBay (which he’s still waiting to get back by the way). For more fun, follow him on Twitter @PetroTLS.