In the preseason, the Bears showed what I thought to be some promise.
The offense seemed to know and understand the playbook, and the defense had its highlights.
However, there’s a lot of work to be done as well. The front office made some cuts including Jordan Mills, Tim Jennings, and Micheal Ola (the most notable names).
The cut that made the biggest impact on me was Mason Foster.
Throughout the preseason, Mason looked like he wanted to play the game the right way. He has a lot of knowledge of the game and good ball hawking skills. Overall, I thought he played better than Shea McClellin. Best of luck to Mason wherever he ends up next!
Taking a look at the team as a whole, here are my positives and negatives from the preseason.
The running game looks to have a breakout year.
All the backs had shining moments. I know it won’t happen, but theoretically if the running backs split the carries into thirds, there will be no stopping this rushing attack. Right now this is one of, if not the strongest, position on offense.
Robbie Gould hasn’t changed a bit.
He’s kept his confidence high and drilled 90% of his field goal attempts. Anytime the Bears get within 50 or so yards, I’m anticipating points. Don’t expect him to hit every field goal as he’s only human, but for the most part the “Goulden” foot continues to be automatic this year.
There’s potential for this new-look defense.
There’s some coverage issues that need to be worked on, but overall I’m taking a liking to Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense. It doesn’t seem to matter who they put on the defensive front 3, they all seem to know and understand their assignment and contain like they are coached to.
My highlight players are Eddie Goldman and Will Sutton. Eddie has said during the preseason that he wants reps against Kyle Long because to be the best you have to practice against the best. So far, he’s picked up playing the nose tackle position quite well. Expect to see Eddie get a lot of the playing time, especially in running situations.
Will Sutton finished the preseason with nine combined tackles to lead all defensive linemen. Hopefully he doesn’t get overlooked and snubbed of getting decent playing time. Will has impressed me more than Jeremiah Ratliff or Jarvis Jenkins to this point. If you ask me, the optimal defensive linemen package should look like this: Ego Ferguson, Eddie Goldman, Will Sutton. Doing so would utilize our top draft picks on the line from the past two years.
I’m a big fan of frequent sub packages; since Ratliff (once he gets off suspension) and Jenkins will more than likely be the starters, there are multiple combinations to throw at the opposing offense to keep them on their toes.
Unfortunately we’re not sure if we’ll see Kevin White this year.
So, who will be the guy to step up to claim his spot?
If the Bears want to keep Eddie Royal in the slot, Cameron Meredith can be that guy to step up. I don’t think it matters if Cameron is the second or third receiver on the depth chart, he has impressed the most this preseason out of all the receivers. Aside from Cincinnati, he had at least one catch and 13 yards receiving in every game this preseason.
The injury bug bit this receiving corp hard this preseason, taking out Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson. Multiple reports are saying that Alshon and Marquess have been involved at practice, which is good news for Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense.
The offensive line’s instability is another cause for concern.
I’ve preached this before: games are won and lost in the trenches. While you’re only as good as your weakest link, that weakest link is causing some shuffling in where guys are playing.
While I don’t think that Charles Leno Jr. had a bad preseason, I think he is inexperienced, which could factor in if he starts.
When the season gets going and guys get injured, there will be no doubt to me that Charles will be playing in that offensive line and holding his own.
All this aside, the offensive line only allowed four sacks throughout preseason. Personally, I don’t see the front five being the biggest issue.
I loved seeing the defense force turnovers this preseason.
Vic seems to be emphasizing gang tackling and stripping the ball when tackling the opposing player. However, the coverage has been lack luster.
Kyle Fuller was getting bullied and targeted without putting his foot down, and Shea apparently likes to leave his guy open in the flat.
In a pass happy league, I’m fine with giving up the pass as long as the YAC isn’t through the roof. If Shea can’t get out into the flat and cover Pernell’s side of the ball, it’ll be a three to five yard gain every time for the opposing offense.
As far as cornerback, it will be interesting who lines up opposite of Fuller.
I have no problem seeing either Sherrick McManis or Alan Ball assume that role. As the season progresses, I hope the defenses coverage improves.
This a rebuilding year.
There’s no getting around that, but I don’t think it will be a bad one.
The offense looks more balanced than it has in a couple years.
That will help alleviate some pressure off Jay. In a possible year without Kevin White and a thin receiving corp, expect Jay to throw around 21 touchdowns and estimate his average interceptions at 15. I know he hasn’t turned the ball over all preseason, but traditionally when the Bears have a more balanced offense, he was still throws his fair share of interceptions. I don’t expect anything astounding from Jay, just some better game management skills.
I’ll be interested to see how the defense plays this year.
They were able to put the brakes on Andrew Luck, one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Then they laid a goose egg against Cincinnati giving up 21 points in the first half. I think they need to shuffle up the personnel to find the best combination, as the Christian Jones and Shea McClellin duo in the middle does not appear to work. I want to see Jon Bostic and Christian play in the middle more than Shea.
While on the outside, I’d like to see Sam Acho and Pernell McPhee play together. I think that is a deadly pass rushing combo that teams will have to really strategize about. Plus, it looks like Acho is more comfortable in coverage than Jared Allen.
The special teams may be able to win a couple games for the Bears this year.
The unit has done a decent job of giving the offense good field position on kickoffs and naturally Robbie is as good as “Gould.”
I’m just asking for patience from Bears fans.
The first three weeks or so will be some rough waters. Playing at home against the Cheeseheads and the Arizona Cardinals, then off to noisy Seattle.
I don’t see the success coming right away, but as the season progresses they will start to look better. As long as John Fox, Adam Gase, and Jay Cutler can take the air out of the ball in these first three games (figuratively speaking, not like Tom Brady) their chances for a win increase. Keeping the ball out of the hands of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson will help tremendously.
It’s a stretch to see them end with a winning season.
With a new coach, playbook, and defense, the Bears will finish the season 8-8 and land outside a wild card position. Being .500 will be a semi-reasonable task. Anything more than that is hard to see.
I’m finally able to ask the famous question…
Are you ready for some football?!