One of the things that I like about preseason is that I get to watch all the Bears games, since NFL Network shows re-broadcasts of every preseason game. I don't have any of those fancy satellite TV services, which means I'm stuck with only the regular season games that are broadcast on cable. So I didn't get to watch the Bears week 1 loss to the Houston Texans. I didn't miss much.
Offensive ineptitude ruined any chances of Chicago staying in their week 1 match-up against the Texans.
My preseason perception of the Bears as being inept on offense was validated by the final score of 23-14. Granted, the Texans are one of the better defenses in the league, but sloppy play has been the Bears M.O. throughout preseason. The defense actually gave the team some opportunities, but offensive mistakes just undid any gains that the Bears made early. Botched snaps, sacks, an interception, and fumbles ended too many drives, and the defense just couldn't hold back the Texans' offense.
I did get to watch the Bears' game against the Eagles on Monday night. It looked very similar. The defense played very well throughout much of the game, holding the Eagles to only nine points up through almost the end of the third quarter. Jacoby Glenn and Tracy Porter made some key pass break-ups that ended Eagles drives and gave the Bears offense opportunities to buffer the score. But once again, a fumble and an interception from Jay Cutler gave the Eagles a two-score lead. Cutler was under siege right from the start of the game, and the very first play from scrimmage was a sack of Cutler. It also didn't help that Connor Barth missed a field goal early in the game. So much for replacing Robbie Gould in order to save salary cap space. As Jay Gruden pointed out, you get what you pay for. With the offense being as bad as it has been, Gould was likely going to be the team's leading scorer this year. That should have made him a valuable commodity who is worth paying, even though he is "only a kicker". Cutler eventually left the game with a hand injury, only to have other players make costly mistakes. The Bears were driving at the beginning of the fourth quarter with Brian Hoyer under center, until Jeremy Langford gave up the first fumble of his pro career.
The defense stood firm early, but the Carson Wentz phenomenon
was too much for it to handle without help from the offense.
Then the flood gates opened. The defense just couldn't contain the Eagles anymore. The defense managed to make a fourth down stop on the goal-line, only to give the Eagles a second chance (and a walk-in score) due to an offsides penalty. This sequence also saw starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman go down with an apparent leg injury after being bent over backwards. He had to be carted off the field. Hopefully, the injury isn't as serious as it looked.
Injuries are the story of the season for the Bears so far. It started with center Hroniss Grasu before preseason even started. Pernell McPhee and Kyle Fuller have also been on the physically-unable-to-perform list throughout the preseason and first couple weeks of regular season. Even Kyle Long (arguably the best player on the team) has been playing with a supposedly minor injury. The loss of 2nd-year quarterback Connor Shaw in the third game of the preseason (against the Chiefs) was also particularly disappointing. Cutler and Hoyer had both looked underwhelming in preseason, and Shaw played very well in his limited time in the fourth quarters of games. He brought a spark to the offense that allowed the team to move the ball. He was starting to look like a potential long-term replacement for when the Bears eventually decide to separate from Jay Cutler. Shaw had already suffered a thumb injury during his sole season with the Cleveland Browns, and now he had to go to the hospital for yet another season-ending injury. Poor guy can't catch a break.
In the 2nd-week game against the Eagles, Jay Cutler left the game with a hand injury. Brian Hoyer didn't play bad in relief of Cutler, but he also didn't provide much energy to the team, and he couldn't put the ball in the end zone. If Cutler has to miss extended time, I'm skeptical that Hoyer can effectively lead the team. Though, at this point, I'm willing to give anybody but Cutler a chance. Though, admittedly, it isn't all Cutler's fault. The pass blocking so far has been abysmal.
Bryce Callahan and Eddie Goldman
also left the game with injuries.
Defensive backs Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos also suffered head injuries. Callahan was removed from the game with a concussion, but Amos was cleared to continue playing. Despite being one of the top DBs left on the squad, Callahan's injury occured while defending the opening kickoff of the second half. With the defense already as depleted as it is, perhaps the Bears shouldn't be playing their starters on kickoff coverage?
These Bears games look pathetically similar to the UNLV football games that I subject myself to every year, and it's frustrating. It definitely looks like the Bears are on track to be at the bottom of the division again this year, and might even be competing for the top overall draft pick in 2017. The one silver lining is that the defense is young and looks like it might have some promising talent on it. Many player have made some standout plays, and the defense has kept the team in games for the first two or three quarters. In a couple years, this defense could be one of the better ones in the league. Hopefully, they'll have an offense that can score some points. And they'll have to keep everyone off the injury list. Maybe the NFL should just impose a mercy rule and force the Bears to forfeit the rest of their games. You know, to protect the players.