Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Bears for WARR
It was an interesting day on the lakefront Saturday when the Chicago Bears opened their home schedule of 2018 against Kansas City.
The “third” game in an actual four-game preseason so far, this game was intended as the big dress rehearsal for the season and the last chance for the top line guys to get one final warm up before opening up on Sunday Night Football in Green Bay in Week 1.
Friday Bears followers were blindsided with the news that coach Matt Nagy and decided to go a different direction than the norm by basically resting all their starters on offense and defense.
It was an interesting contrast expressed on the field seeing as how Chiefs coach Andy Reid was Nagy’s mentor and the Chiefs played their starters into the third quarter. Nagy isn’t exactly standing out on his own with this type of decision, Sean McVay preceded a breakout season for the Rams by doing the same thing in the third preseason game a year ago with with Los Angeles.
Saturday’s Bears-Chiefs game was also interesting in how it played out and it provided a great surprise for the Bears, whose backups played really well against the Chiefs. This meant not seeing three quarters of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center but more of backup Chase Daniel in just about that same time frame.
Fortunately, Daniel was effective and he got plenty of support from his receivers. On the other side, the Bears defense used the classic bend but don’t break technique in building a 24-10 halftime lead. There probably isn’t too much to really take away from the backups playing well against the Chiefs starters, but what it does mean is that Matt Nagy and the Bears have decided that they are ready for the season.
As many fans and people who cover the team were trying to make sense of the Nagy decision not to play the starters, the Bears put together a great team performance with some standout individual play. One of the most exciting plays came on the Bears’ second touchdown score. Kevin White ran a beautiful double move on Orlando Scandrick that led to a 29-yard touchdown catch.
White made another nice 11-yard reception that again flashed his speed. White has had such a down career and that touchdown catch was his first in an NFL game. Things might finally be clicking for White, he has certainly earned his spot on the roster as a weapon for the offense this year and here’s hoping he can stay healthy so he can prove more beyond that.
Another player that shined was in the same position group as White was rookie Javon Wims. Wims had a breakout game in Canton for the Hall of Fame game and he put together an even better performance against the Chiefs, ending the game with 114 yards and a touchdown with multiple nice plays to his credit.
Whether it was him making a nice back corner end zone grab or beating defenders over the top or showing good open field burst, Wims has earned a spot on this team. After the preseason the seventh-round selection has had, it does not look like the Bears will be able to hide him on the practice squad and he may not even clear waivers if the Bears risk putting him on the practice squad.
Elsewhere among the receivers, Josh Bellamy did not play Saturday, which suggests that he will be on the team. Then you add sure roster bets in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller along with White and that should leave just one spot up for grabs. Bennie Fowler has special teams experience but I don’t know how the Bears can choose Fowler over Wims for that last receiver spot.
Similar to Wims, a couple guys from the Hall of Fame game made an impact once again against the Chiefs.
The pass rush is a concern heading into the season, so getting a couple sacks between Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts was a good sight. Chicago is going to need multiple guys stepping up and helping in the rotation of pass rushers and this pair are two good candidates. Irving and Fitts will most likely not be the starter opposite Floyd but they will be given pass rush opportunities in the regular season. Irving put together six tackles — tied for a game high — including a tackle for a loss. Hopefully Irving and Fitts can build off a good game and bring some of their success from the preseason into the regular season.
Finally, lets give some more props to Daniel at QB. Daniel played terribly this preseason until late in the second half against the Broncos. It was concerning at the time because Daniel is the primary backup and he has very little regular season experience. Then seeing some of his poor play added to the concern in case Mitch were to go down at all. Daniel put together a really good game, ending with two touchdowns and a stellar quarterback rating of 149.5. Knock on wood Trubisky won’t get hurt at all this year, but at least now it looks like the Bears have a competent backup.
Overall, the biggest takeaway from this game is that the Bears feel they are ready for the season. Nagy spoke about the decision to rest the starters after the game, essentially saying that the extra snaps the frontline guys would have got would not have made much of a difference in their play and preparation for the early part of the regular season.
A Devils Advocate would say that these missing game reps are highly valuable because they are actual game reps versus the more controlled reps that come in practice.
Nagy believes the team is prepared from all the extra work they got in OTAs, minicamp and training camp as well as the preseason. Again, the most important thing in the preseason is making it through as healthy as possible. Outside of a freak accident, the Bears should be pretty healthy as a team when they go up to Green Bay. Those reps may come back to haunt Mitch or Nagy early in the season, especially if the team struggles because of bad execution.
But there is no way to correlate a slow start in general to sitting out the dress rehearsal game, beyond anecdotal observation that is. So don’t blow a lid, Bears Nation, because the Bears didn’t start their guys because preseason success doesn’t mean future performance, not now, not ever.
Take solace in the fact that the Bears should be pretty healthy for the regular season and that the decision makers feel their top-line guys are ready to go.
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