Even though it was just a preseason game, this one was a bit of a gut-wrenching loss. Everything felt right for us to win this one after we built up a huge lead, then needed just one goal line stand to put it away. Everybody in the stadium, not just the fans, were on their feet. All the starters for both teams were fully invested in this game and at one point Kyle Long was out there hyping up the crowd to get some noise going late in the 4th. This one felt like the big step needed to get people to truly buy into Nagy and his vision, as there was an energy to this one unlike any preseason game before. Unfortunately, in classic Bears fashion, we let this one slip away. This “meaningless loss” certainly meant something to those fighting for roster spots however, so let’s take a look at who stood out:

Vic Fangio stood out above all others today, and there’s really not enough that can be said about what he does for this defense. In a game where the majority of the playing won’t be on the team in 2 weeks he had his defense running like a well-oiled machine. You could argue that we let AJ McCarron come back to win the game, but we also had 4th stringers on defense playing an entire game with no subs. That’ll take a toll on anybody, and it really started to show towards the end. But Fangio was still scheming up plays that got free men to the quarterback more often than not, and McCarron rarely had a clean pocket to throw from. With that being said, some of these back-of-the-roster guys actually had themselves a night.

Doran Grant was playing about as lights out as a guy like Doran Grant could play, and it culminated with the early pick-6 he had. The play looked extremely similar to the one Kyle Fuller ran back against the Bengals, where a manufactured pass rush forced the QB into an early throw on a comeback route. Besides the interception, Grant played pretty good coverage the whole night and was rarely outright beaten on routes. The same could not be said for Michael Joseph though who got torched for a touchdown and then was repeatedly left behind on the exact same route. If the Bills had a better passer than AJ McCarron in the game, it would’ve been more than just one.

Kasim Edebali also played very well on the edge until he left the game on the injury cart. He didn’t record a sack, but he was routinely in the backfield collapsing the pocket. He also was able to set the edge well against the run, something that backup OLBs usually struggle with. He may not be a lock to make the team at this point, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the final 53. On the inside, Cavon Walker and Bilal Nichols were a pair of wrecking balls, consistently getting a good interior push. Each of them came away with a sack along with Abdullah Anderson who showed some good play but is still doubtful to make the team.

In the middle of the field John Timu played well and outshined the rookie 4th rounder Joel Iyiegbuniwe who made some big hits but also looked a little lost at times. Timu also had a nice interception that looked eerily reminiscent of the pick he had against the Dolphins in a preseason game during his rookie year. That play seemed to play a large role in him making that team, so it will be interesting to see if this one has the same effect.

On offense things got off to a pretty hot start, with Tyler Bray leading a couple big drives in the first half before they started dialing back the playcalling towards the end. Bray completed 19 of 29 for 180 yards with 0 TDs 1 inteception equating to a passer rating of a pedestrian 68.2, but those numbers don’t really do him justice. He certainly had a couple of misfires but for the most part he was putting balls exactly where they needed to be and lead the Bears to an early lead before we started keeping it on the ground to finish the game.

Ryan Nall had himself a heck of a game rushing the football, and whily he only got 4 handoffs, he ended up with an insane average of 19.8 yards per play with a long of 32. He was an absolute bowling ball out there and once he got up to speed he nearly impossible to stop as he was able to find his way into the endzone at the end of one of those long gains. Taquan Mizzell was slightly less successful, and he didn’t show much on the ground with a measly 2.6 yard average, but he again proved himself to be an asset catching the ball out of the backfield. Knile Davis though was without a doubt the worst from this group, amassing a miserable 48 yards on 19 carries. He simply could not find a lane or break a tackle, and at one point it looked like he had a costly fumble before he was determined to be down by contact by the replay booth.

Overall many of the guys playing in last night’s game won’t find themselves wearing a Bears uniform at any point this season, but there are certainly some who showed enough to earn a shot elsewhere. Guys like Kasim Edebali and Doran Grant did a lot to help secure themselves a spot last night but perhaps the most telling thing was the fact that Javon Wims never took the field. That all but assures he has already made the team. In a game that was supposed to count for nothing it was surprisingly exciting, but now we’re finally onto the regular season and we’ll get to see what this team can really do.


Photo by Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune


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