WR Kevin White had just two catches for 15 yards in the Bears’ 24-23 preseason victory Saturday night, but that wasn’t the extent of his contribution to an offense that moved sporadically yet still showed better rhythm than a week earlier.
On third-and-15 from the Bears’ 20-yard line, the frequently injured White drew a 37-yard pass-interference penalty on a badly underthrown ball from Mitch Trubisky that set up the only points for the starters, who played through the midway point of the second quarter.
“I gave him a chance on a (deep ball),” said Trubisky. “The corner was playing high over top, so if he doesn’t pass interfere, I believe Kevin comes down with the ball. We’re just going to keep getting the ball in his hands. He’s going to get more and more comfortable. Kevin’s done a great job, and he showed glimpses (Saturday) night. The more he gets the ball, the more confident he gets and just continues to go back to (being) himself, so it’s been great to see.”
White, who had another short reception nullified by a penalty, got plenty of playing time, staying on the field into the third quarter and getting some reps with No. 2 QB Chase Daniel, who ran the offense extremely efficiently.
“He played well,” Daniel said. “He played fast; I thought he played confident, and that’s his thing. He showed some flashes.”
Daniel showed as much flash as anyone, running the offense the way Trubisky will be expected to do in the very near future. The backup completed 19 of 28 passes for 189 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 110.6 passer rating to lead the 1-2 Bears to a comeback victory.
While it seems almost blasphemous to criticize multi-threat RB/WR/RS Tarik Cohen, Saturday night was not one of his better performances. Trubisky’s lone interception was more attributable to Cohen than to the quarterback. Broncos S Justin Simmons jumped the inside route, and Cohen stopped short, leaving Simmons in position to make the pick.
“We’re going to learn from that,” coach Matt Nagy said. “29 (Cohen) is a really good route runner from the backfield and does a lot of good things. (But) on that one in particular, if you look at it, he was going to cut inside. For whatever reason, he felt the defender cut in front of him, and he stopped.
“I think he learned that you can’t do that. They’ll fix that, and you learn from it. Some of this stuff that’s going on here, I’m really glad it’s happening now. You can’t find those teachable moments when it counts in the regular season. You don’t want that to happen.”
A couple plays earlier, on third-and-11, Cohen caught a well-designed screen pass that appeared certain to pick up the necessary yardage. But he was stopped just short of the first down, when he misread a block by Cody Whitehair, cutting inside instead of outside. But the Bears went for it on fourth-and-1, and Trubisky sneaked for three yards.
For the second straight game, the Bears got a strong showing from their tight ends, even after Adam Shaheen left early with an ankle injury following a five-yard reception. Trey Burton had four catches for 45 yards, including a seven-yard TD; Ben Braunecker caught what proved to be a 12-yard, game-winning TD pass; and Daniel Brown had an 11-yard reception.
“I was happy for Trey,” Nagy said. “I was happy for Mitch. A lot of hard work here. You can see now they’re starting to click, and that’s a big time positive for this offense. It’s good for these guys to have that connection, and you have that trust level built up.”
The previous week, against the Bengals, Bears tight ends caught 11 passes for 174 yards, including five catches for 90 yards by Brown. If Shaheen’s ankle injury is of any consequence, Braunecker and Brown will play bigger roles.
“I think you guys have seen what they’ve done the past couple weeks in the passing game,” Nagy said of Brown and Braunecker. “They’re nice-size guys, and they have good wiggle. They’re very agile, and you can create matchups on linebackers. They have some size vs. safeties, and they have some speed vs. linebackers. They understand how important the ‘new tight end’ is in this offense, but they also understand if you are thrust into that role, you have to be able to block, too. Those guys have put in a lot of work, and it was good to see them have some success.”
Nagy absolved Whitehair of any blame on his shotgun snap that Trubisky mishandled, resulting in a safety.
“It was right on target,” Nagy said. “If you look at it in slow motion, (Trubisky) pulled his eyes away a little bit. Forget whose fault it is. The problem there is that’s a critical error when you’re backed up like that and you can’t have that happen.”