The Patriots narrowly defeated the Bears on Thursday 23-22. Chicago did not play up to their potential and made some cringe-worthy plays (even without Tom Brady on the field). It wasn’t all bad though, and as everyone says when their team loses a preseason game, “It’s just the preseason, guys.”
As a Bears fan, it’s not often that I am content with a loss, but this game was actually encouraging. Many starters showed improvement from last week, and some 2nd and 3rd-stringers had some promising performances. The offense had 78 yards total last week against Denver, but they had surpassed that total before the first quarter was over in New England (finishing with 331 yards).
Jay Cutler had 8 completions out of 12 attempts, 0 TD’s, and 0 INT’s. On the second play of the first drive, he completed a pass to Jeffery for 29 yards. He made good decisions and threw the ball as well as we know he can. Jay looks dead-set on proving to the world that last season will not be the peak of his career.
Newly named starter Jeremy Langford also looked sharp, rushing for 55 yards and a TD in just 1 quarter. He showed his explosiveness with a 34 yard run down the right side to set up Chicago’s first TD. Langford looks like he can pick up right where Matt Forte left off.
Alshon Jeffery looked like his usual self, as well: 2 catches for 41 yards and no drops. He exploited the the Patriot secondary for a deep 29 yard catch, as he so often does.
When the backups were sent in, Chicago’s flaws were more evident. Brian Hoyer completed only 4 of his 14 passes and threw and interception. The backup running backs, Howard, Shaw, and Rodgers looked average and didn’t really make any standout plays. However, almost all of the Bears’ receivers looked solid. There were quite a few catches for 20+ yards and not many dropped passes.
The defense looked much better than last week, as well. Rookie first-round draft pick, Leonard Floyd, only had a half sack, but was in the backfield pressuring the Patriot quarterbacks all night. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman was all over the field and ended up with a team-leading 5 tackles. While Tracy Porter had a forced fumble with a recovery from the cornerback position.
Although the game ended in a loss, it’s not the final score that matters. In the preseason, it’s the team improvement that matters. This quote from Head Coach John Fox sums it up perfectly, “We were disappointed in our performance last week. That was pretty well documented. And so guys get challenged. And they responded.”