We end preseason 2-1 with a 27-24 win over the Titans. Nothing spectacular, feelings of preseason being preseason. Same old same old, but as always, some things to consider. With that, I take a look at 3 Ups and 3 Downs from the game.
3 UP 3 DOWN : THE UPS
Wow. Just wow. What a way to say “Pick me boss. Put me in that Roster”. 3 touchdowns from just 5 receptions and 103 yards. One from a dime throw from Justin Fields, tight to the touchline, 2 defenders covering he brings it in. Nagy himself was quoted as saying “Jesper made a heck of a catch”. Another, a 53 yard run after taking a one handed catch on the turn from a Nick Foles throw.
Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet are clear TE 1 and 2 respectively. Jessie James comes in as backup and has linked up well with Fields. But seasons are long tough things and Horsted has done himself the world of good and could even now see some red zone action.
BIG EDDIE GOT TIME
For the first time since the end of the 2019 season, Eddie Goldman was on the field. The defense looked poor in 2020 and the Bills game illustrated how much of an impact is made when he isn’t on the field. Getting Goldman back as nose tackle is a big bonus to Sean Desai in his first season as DC to help make the defense as strong as possible.
BEARS HAVE A WINNING RECORD
As easy as you like, winning is winning. Results mean nothing in preseason but winning breeds confidence. There have been some trials and questions to be asked, but going into the season 2-1 feels good, the players will feel good and offers a mood of calm to the camp. Yes there is work to do, but work already done.
IFEDI IS STRUGGLING
The Bears played the entire first half with their unspoken game one starters – RT Ifedi, RG Daniels, Center Mustipher, LG Whitehair and LT Peters – with Jenkins not available. In short, Ifedi did not look up to speed. We know preseason is not all guns blazing but he didn’t look to be burning any embers at all.
For example, only 2 minutes into the 1st quarter Fields took a sack, with Ifedi slow to react allowing his man to get through him. Williamson coming in for the 2nd half at RT looked more assured and focused.
39-year-old Peters was only signed by the Bears on August 16th and looked like he had had more time with the team, working the more difficult side. Even rookie Borom looked more assured when he came onto the left side, helping Foles secure 2 touchdowns.
Granted Ifedi was only released from his hip-flexor injury Monday 23rd after missing a lot of preseason, but it casts some doubt that Ifedi could be ready to go in week 1 against players of a better quality.
ONLY ONE SACK
With average QB play expected from Dalton and a weakened OL to protect him heading into the season, it’s fair to say the defense could be relied on to make a lot of important plays. However one sack registered this game is not the result you would want.
High pressure on the QBs is fundamental to a good defense, allowing for more mistakes and higher chance of turnover. But one sack isn’t enough to secure a win. This lack of pressure on opponents’ QBs puts more reliance on the secondary to make decisive plays, and there are only so many times they can do that.
WR DEPTH A PROBLEM
Horsted carried the offense against the Titans. His 3 touchdowns being crucial to the result of this game, with no noticeable help coming from any Bears wide receiver. Looking at the stats, no other Bears receiver got higher than 20 receiving yards in the game.
This puts pressure on Robinson, Mooney and Co. to stay fit because there wasn’t a lot of production in this game for the wide receivers to be happy about.