Coming off the high of week 1 of pre-season against the Dolphins, expectations were high that the Bears could keep the momentum going this week with the visit of Mitch Trubisky and the Buffalo Bills.
The reality of week 2 was very much far from expectations. The Bears failed to make an impact in any of the three phases due to a number of reasons, some of which we will discuss.
Offensively, the first half of this game looked very similar to last week’s first half debacle. The team had multiple 3 and outs and as a result the defence were on the field the majority of the time.
Andy Dalton got an extended run in this game, playing the whole first half, but he was entirely underwhelming as many had predicted. Playing behind a make-shift offensive line combined with Dalton’s lack of effective mobility was never going to be a recipe for success. Add in that David Montgomery, Allen Robinson and Cole Kmet didn’t play and most of the other skill position “number 1s” were limited, and we have a situation where you shouldn’t be shocked at the lack of production.
With the offence laying an egg for most of first half we saw the defence on the field a lot more than what would be considered ideal. Usually, this defensive unit are a group that can be relied upon when the offence is, well, being the offence; however, their own dismal display left a lot to be desired. Missed tackles, poor technique and an apparent lack of desire shone through and led to Mitch Trubisky et al putting up 34 points by half time.
While I understand that teams don’t tend to scheme for games in the pre-season, surely we knew that Buffalo would play to Mitch’s strengths and run quick slants, quick releases and pretty much all the stuff he did in Chicago. This wasn’t the case and the defence were made to look very average.
Justin Fields was introduced in the 3rd quarter, and although he clearly presented as a better option to Andy Dalton, he struggled to make a significant impact. What do you expect when you stick the kid out there behind the 3rd team offensive linemen and alongside a group of receivers who probably won’t even be on the roster in 2 weeks?
Special teams? There is nothing special about this unit right now. We clearly miss guys like Sherrick McManis and have failed to adequately replace them. We could put this down to one game, but they were below par in week 1 vs Miami.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom! There were some impressive performances from individuals out there including Khyiris Tonga; Jaylon Johnson; Khalil Herbert and Larry Borom. What is even more encouraging is that each of these is a draft pick.
So here we are, looking forward to the last pre-season game and having more questions than answers when it comes to “the plan”.
Matt Nagy has already alluded to Andy Dalton still being the first choice at the quarterback position, despite the clear gulf in ability and potential between him and Fields. He has said that he still needs the regular season to fully evaluate Andy Dalton’s place on this team. I’m sorry, but if you are at this point in the pre-season and you still don’t know what you have in the 11-year veteran Dalton then maybe you are in the wrong game.
In order to “evaluate” Fields, he needs to be getting reps with the number 1s, both in practice and in the final pre-season game. We were told this would happen last week, but his snaps were limited.
The Bears will hope that this week was just a blip, and to be fair they were missing the majority of their starters on offence and some on defence. Pre-season games are the time to make errors and more importantly make adjustments.
We will hope to get some injured players back on the field, and have some offensive line reinforcement in the large and imposing shape of Jason Peters. Don’t be shocked to see the Bears revamp the wide receiver corps after final cuts have been made, as clearly the depth in that area is a concern.
Nagy needs to make the move to Fields, not just for his own sake, but for the sake of the team and the development of Fields. Don’t be stubborn, recognise what is the best decision and make it. Another thing for Nagy to consider is whether he should be calling plays. Nagy is arguably a good leader, but maybe he isn’t the offensive guru that he thinks he is. That’s another conversation for later.
Make the change! JF1=QB1.