After months of waiting, we have finally arrived. Bears Football is back! They kicked the 2022-23 season off with a win against the Chiefs. There is plenty to take away from this game, but this all must be prefaced by saying, this is the first preseason game, basically nothing we see here will be transferred into the regular season. That said, we can definitely use this game to gauge where the Bears are a few weeks before the season starts. So, let’s get into some of the storylines that stood out to me this week.
Justin Fields Looks Poised and Decisive
Surprisingly, JF1 played the entire first quarter, and he consistently worked his way through progressions correctly and looked at the check-downs in a timely manner. Along with this, his throwing motions and mechanics look much smoother, with him being able to get the ball out quicker. One important development that was evident in this game was his ability to deal with interior pressure, and deliver throws with defenders in his face. He threw multiple dimes with high pressure, including a sideline snag by Tajae Sharpe for a first down with a severe breakdown in protection. Overall, I was impressed by Fields, and over time as he gets more comfortable with the new system, I can definitely see a huge breakout occurring this year.
WR Core looks… Competent?
Going into this season, the positional group that was consistently clowned on was the WR group. Yet, they looked very solid today, with a few standouts including Tajae Sharpe, Equanimeous St.Brown, and Dazz Newsome. Sharpe especially looks as solid as can be, with multiple impressive grabs during the first half. In fact, the only drops during the game occurred either from running backs or practice squad guys during the latter half of the game. As for the WRs that will make the roster, they have instilled more confidence in me with their performance.
Defensive Pressure Looks Scary
The Matt Eberflus defensive impact is palpable, to say the least. There was constant interior pressure, severely limiting the Chiefs’ run game, and making QBs uncomfortable during pass plays. Obviously, Patrick Mahomes was able to exploit this in his one drive, but the interior pressure still looked well above average. Key guys like Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kyiris Tonga, and Trevis Gibson were breaking through the OLine effortlessly. A few backup guys looked good here too, including Dominique Robinson and linebacker Matt Adams.
Offensive Line Was A Mixed Bag
Let’s start with the positives: Braxton Jones can back up the hype. For a 5th-round rookie, he played like at least a 2nd-round talent today. No glaring issues; moved well, always kept his hips squared, and stayed in front of the defender, just needs to bulk up a little more. Along with that, after the first quarter, a lot of the backups looked good, including Zachary Thomas and Doug Kramer. Trevor Siemian didn’t see much interior pressure due to his line.
Now to the bad part: the right side of the line looked rough, to say the least. Schofield was immediately beaten inside for the first sack of the day, and Larry Borom struggled to seal the edge multiple times. The Bears need to hope Tevin Jenkins or Riley Rieff step up and carry the right side of that line because at this point it looks like a major weakness.
The Bears Have Their Own Jamal Adams
Man, Jaquan Brisker can play. 4 Tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and a pass deflection for Brisker in his first NFL action. Yet, it was the stuff the stats don’t show that really stood out. He has great instincts for a rookie safety, constantly flying around the field, and interrupting plays. The NFC DROY hype train is beginning, and I’ll have Brisker near the top of my list.
Quick Coaching Grades:
Matt Eberflus: His impact on this team is palpable; the defense was flying around and big hits were everywhere. The defense was disciplined, with zero penalties coming from the starters. Even a lot of the rookies were quick to buy into his HITS principles. Overall, I think Eberflus flashed why he’s the man for the job today
Luke Getsy: I can definitely see that Getsy is attempting to play towards his quarterback’s strengths, allowing him to move outside of the pocket consistently. However, I do question his playcalling a bit, with Fields attempting zero deep balls and multiple inside runs on 3rd and long. He may be hiding his true offensive scheme, but based strictly today, he left a little to be desired.
Alan Williams: It’s difficult to tell what Eberflus’s doing, and what Williams has accomplished. So, I will just give Williams the same grade I’d give the defensive unit as a whole. Good interior pressure, good tackling, some mishaps in coverage for the linebackers, but still decent overall.
Richard Hightower: I actually liked the special teams today, with the only glaring mistake coming from a muffed catch that was still recovered by Dazz Newsome. The return game looks good overall, and there were multiple great punts by rookie Trenton Gill. This was a solid first game by Hightower
Other Important Notes:
- Khalil Herbert looked slower and had some bad drops.
- Treston Ebner may be a key replacement for Tarik Cohen.
- Jack Sanborn is this year’s stud UDFA rookie. He was everywhere today.
- Trevor Siemian can win you a game if need be.
- Nathan Peterman is… well Nathan Peterman
- Teven Jenkins slowly coming into his own.