Breaking down the Bears’ 27-20 preseason win over the Chiefs at Soldier Field.
THREE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
1. Obviously we won’t know until the regular season whether all the starters Matt Nagy opted to sit could’ve used the work. But, for one game, Nagy’s unorthodox decision worked out beautifully as the Bears controlled the action from the opening kickoff.
2. Kevin White made his first visit to an NFL end zone late in the first quarter, when he beat veteran CB Orlando Scandrick on a double move and found himself wide open on a 29-yard touchdown. After three harrowing years in the NFL, the former seventh-overall pick has enjoyed an injury-free camp but might have more to prove to a new staff, if his participation in this game alongside most reserves is any indication. It’s a huge confidence jolt for White, who made his coach look good for the decision to play him.
3. In his first-ever Bears start, second-round C James Daniels acquitted himself well. There were no high snaps, unlike with Cody Whitehair, whose rough summer has led to much angst among Bears fans. And Javon Wims punctuated an exciting day for the Bears’ rookie class, showing explosive downfield tracking ability, run-after-catch skills, ball skills and body control as part of his 4-114-1 receiving day, including 56- and 44-yard snares.
THREE THINGS THAT WORKED
1. Bears backup ‘D’ dominating Chiefs starting offense. The high-octane Chiefs starting offense was limited to 210 yards and 10 total points in 2-plus quarters by Vic Fangio’s reserves. In fact, if we remove the opening drive, when Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt accounted for 47 yards on only two plays, it was merely 136 yards and a field goal. The unit played sound assignment-wise after a pair of early breakdowns. Fangio clearly was dusting off his play-calling chops with an aggressive script, and young EDGE rushers Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts each produced a sack and two QB hits.
2. Bears second-team offense starting fast. The offense marched 60 yards on six plays on its opening series, capped by a nifty 13-yard Benny Cunningham touchdown after he escaped trouble in the backfield. On their second series, the Bears drove 77 yards on nine plays en route to White’s score. Ben Braunecker made it possible with a 22-yard conversion on third-and-6 on the play prior. They made it three consecutive TD drives after Wims caught a beautiful 7-yard score, two plays after his third-and-6 conversion went for 56 yards.
3. Chase Daniel’s revenge game. OK, to our knowledge, there are absolutely no ill feelings from Daniel toward his former team. Still, the Bears’ backup played inspired from the first snap. He finished 15 of 18 for 198 yards, two TDs and no picks (149.5 rating) adding 47 yards with his legs. Daniel made sound, swift decisions and showed complete command. After a rocky start to the preseason, over the past two games, Daniel showed why the Bears spent big on Mitch Trubisky’s backup.
THREE THINGS THAT DIDN’T
1. Staying healthy. It’s the reason Nagy sat so many of his cogs. Swing tackle Bradley Sowell suffered what appeared to be a lower-left leg injury early in the fourth quarter and was in considerable pain as he was helped to the sideline by trainers. WR Marlon Brown left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.
2. Establishing the run. Picking nits? Perhaps, especially with no Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen playing. Yet Chicago’s run game was virtually nonexistent, save for Chase Daniel’s scrambling, which bouys the numbers, but Benny Cunningham managed only 7-22 rushing (including a 13-yard TD) and Taquan Mizzell was even less effective with six yards on four carries.
3. Properly legislating roughing the passer. Clete Blakeman’s crew egregiously minsintepreted (we think?) the NFL’s increasingly stringent qualifications for roughing, when he called Chiefs OLB Tanoh Kpassagnon for a sack on Chase Daniel in the second quarter. We have to assume since Blakeman didn’t explain that he saw Kpassagnon using his weight to drive Daniel into the grass, which officials are watching closely for after Anthony Barr broke Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone on such a play last year. But this was a beautiful form tackle, with only the massive size disparity between the 6-7, 289-pound Kpassagnon and 6-0, 225-pound Daniel perhaps making it appear so violent.
If you thought this game was anticlimactic, consider making alternate plans Thursday night when the Bears return to Soldier Field to conclude the preseason by hosting the Bills. It’s shaping up as the Nate Peterman vs. Tyler Bray show, not exactly worth the price of (regular-season) admission.