It’s finally here. The one that’s almost a real game but still not quite a real game. For us football-starved Bears fans it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a real game since last December, which is pretty exciting. Not only will this one feature the most of our starters for the majority of the game, but it’ll also feature a matchup between two rising stars at quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and our own Mitch Trubisky. On top of this it also will give our new coach Matt Nagy a chance to play against his former mentor Andy Reid for the first time. For a preseason game, this one’s about as exciting as it gets, so let’s take a look at what to be watching for in the penultimate game before this starts getting real.

Starting Offense

On Saturday, Trubisky and his offense will get the chance to show that they can actually sustain some drives and hopefully put some points on the board. Unlike last week they won’t get pulled at the first sign of distress. They’ll finally get a chance to string some drives together, but perhaps more importantly they’ll get the chance to simulate a real game by making half-time adjustments, something they haven’t gotten to do yet in 2018. Aside from Adam Shaheen, who suffered an ankle/foot injury last week, the Bears should be at full strength on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Trey Burton, Jordan Howard should all be in the game and it’ll be nearly impossible for Nagy to hide Tarik Cohen for 3 full quarters today. Expect this unit to put points on the board or die trying (hopefully not). One thing to be looking for is the interior o-line rotation to see if James Daniels will get any time with the 1’s or if Eric Kush stays in the whole time.

Starting Defense

 The biggest thing this defense needs to do if they want to go from good to great is forcing turnovers, so look for them do be aggressive in doing so this Saturday. While Floyd will likely be sidelined with his broken hand, Prince Amukamara should be back, giving the Bears their full starting secondary for the first time this preseason. With Patrick Mahomes having a tendency to spray balls all around the field, these DB’s should be licking their chops for the chance to get their hands on one. We should also expect Isaiah Irving to get an extended look with the starting unit to see if he can actually hang with the 1’s, or if he’s only good at beating up on backups. Roquan Smith will also probably ride the bench, so we’ll see if Nick Kwiatkoski can improve on his coverage from last week, as he consistently was a step behind his man when asked to cover tight ends or running backs.

Coaching

While Nagy will still probably refrain from opening up his entire playbook, with 3 full quarters to play the starters we should definitely get a better look than we have before. As noted earlier, it will also be important to look at how he can make halftime adjustments, something John Fox struggled to do at times. These two coaching staffs should know each other quite well by now, so expect a bit of a chess match out there. With this one featuring two young quarterbacks still in the early stages of learning some advanced offenses, this one could get interesting.

 

Photograph: Orlin Wagner / AP Images

 

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