Ciarán’s Comments: Bears / Cardinals Preseason Game

Ciarán’s Comments: Bears / Cardinals Preseason Game

My analysis of this game will include an opening rant that I have been brewing over for the past few days, followed by my analysis of the Offense, Defense and Special Teams. I will then pick out some key performers in my Winners and Losers section.

RANT!

The Chicago Bears came away with a narrow victory in the second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, however the quarterbacks continues to dominate the press. Mike Glennon improved his numbers and didn’t have the 0.0 quarterback rating he had a week ago. That, however, is the only improvement I saw out of Glennon. To be fair, his completion percentage was high and he threw for a touchdown to Kendall Wright. But, the negatives far out-weighed the positives.

Glennon continued to display his inaccuracy, penchant for predetermined reads, staring down targets, he also threw another interception in the endzone and passed into quadruple coverage. That particular pass should have been picked off. It was a shambolic performance. If this is what Bears’ fans are expected to get on board with this season things may get ugly and fast.

There is one question that must be answered by the Bears staff. What are you doing? In what world does Mitch Trubisky, after playing so well against the Broncos, play after Glennon and Mark Sanchez. Why are the Bears endangering him by playing him with 3rd string offensive linemen and few to no offensive weapons?

It would be comical if not for being so tragic.

After watching the first two preseason games and camp practices, there is no way that Trubisky should  play with 3rd stringers again. The best players should play, the players know it and the fans know it. If Mitch Trubisky does not get reps with the starting offense against the Titans, then John Fox has no excuses for any failure during the season and even at this early stage of the season, this decision may seal his fate after Week 17.

Offense

Overall we saw a basic, vanilla offense designed to try and instill confidence in Glennon.

The wide receiver screen and short crossing routes were the only successful passes Glennon made. He averaged just under five yards per pass. Overall, it truly was a terrible performance. The praise Fox and some national analysts have given Glennon is pathetic.

The Bears only reliable offensive playmaker against the Cardinals was Tarik Cohen. For the second week in a row, Cohen looked like he belonged. On his first run he broke a tackle down the field from Tyrann Mathieu and was one step away from breaking it to the house. He rushed for 77 yards on 11 carries in the first half and he showed his passion for the game throughout his outing vs the Cardinals. Cohen has solidified himself as the number 2 back on the Bears depth chart.

I should point out that the teams other backs managed some positives, although most of those were in the passing game. Bennie Cunningham did show his special team return ability and his experience on the field is evident. Cunningham caught all three passes thrown his way and had a touchdown. Ka’Deem Carey gives the Bears versatility as a special teamer and he’s passionate downfield runner. He also caught an 18 yard pass. Josh Rounds deserves a mention. He’s as slow as molasses, but shows promise as a power back for the practice squad. Jeremy Langford did not play and is now in serious danger of not making the team.

Some of the other worrying signs for the Bears are that it looks like Kyle Long won’t be ready for week 1 against the Falcons and that Hroniss Grasu, who garnered praise against the Denver Broncos in week one, was weak at the point of attack against the Cardinals. He got pushed back numerous times and looked exactly the same as he did in his rookie season. No wide receiver or tight end really stood out to me. But then the Bears’ game planning and Glennon’s QB play was so inept it’s hard to question the production from those positions.

It is encouraging that the Bears managed 24 points despite the poor offensive play calling and play making. But, you have to give a fair share of the credit to the defense, special teams and Tarik Cohen. They set the Bears up in great field position for the majority of the game. That will be an important formula for success in the upcoming season because with Glennon at the helm, the prospects of a fast flowing offense that we saw from Trubisky against the Broncos is a long way away. I’ve complained before that the Bear’ brass has erred in giving Glennon the starting role without him earning it and the Chief Barkeeper recently wrote that it’s time management was made aware that there’s a quarterback controversy in Chicago.

But, maybe no one put it better than the Barroom’s smartest man in the world. See here.

Defense

While the offense was lacklustre and inept, the defense was the opposite. Overall the defense was fantastic and that was without Prince Amukamara, Danny Trevathan, Pernell McPhee, Nick Kwiatkowski and Akiem Hicks. The front seven terrorized Carson Palmer and the Cardinals’ offense. Jonathan Bullard has put himself in contention along with Jaye Howard to start opposite Akiem Hicks. Roy Robertson- Harris has also solidified himself as a rotational defensive end with two sacks in the second half. Jerrell Freeman once again showed why he is a captain of the defense and there were more positives from the cornerbacks. Overall, there were very few mistakes made by this defense. And, most exciting for Bears fans should be the continued progress of Leonard Floyd. He was just as impressive as he was in the first preseason game with only holding from the Cardinals’ tackles stopping him from having a multi sack game.

As I pointed out after the first preseason game the cornerback and safety positions will be important to monitor. I was impressed with Amukamara, LeBlanc, Callahan and Webb in week one. In week two, Callahan and Amukamara were out and Kyle Fuller stepped up and played well. If Kyle Fuller can build on his week two’s solid performance he should be considered an important rotational CB option.

Cre’von LeBlanc and B.W Webb made impressive athletic plays on the football. Remember that LeBlanc has a fine rookie season to build on and he’s off to a good start.

This will be a very intriguing competition and with the strength of the front seven, the CBs on the roster will be given ample opportunities to make plays on the football in 2017.

The safety position is one that I have been interested in for years and for the most part I have been disappointed until this offseason. Signing the veteran and club house leader Quintin Demps looks like a sly move by Ryan Pace and the drafting of Eddie Jackson may be the biggest move, other than trading up for Mitch Trubisky, of the offseason.

The only way Jackson doesn’t start week one is if there are defensive calls he needs to learn. He was out for a portion of the offseason program and that may have impacted his learning. But, Demps has been an excellent mentor. I will be shocked if Jackson is not the full time starting free safety in 2017. He is the center fielder the Bears have been searching for and he almost made one of the most athletic plays from a Bears safety in years.

He read the QB and went for the ball in the endzone with one hand and almost came down with an interception. He was everywhere for the Bears and has continued to show just how important it was for the Bears to have an ambitious GM who is not afraid of trading up in the draft. The Bears may have got themselves a gem.

Other than Jackson and Demps, Adrian Amos has continued to make his tackles and provide solid work from the safety position. Between Amos, Jackson and Demps, the Bears are set up well at safety for 2017. As for the depth at the position, there is a key battle emerging as previously mentioned after the Broncos game between Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Deiondre’ Hall, Harold Jones-Quartey and Chris Prosinksi.

Bush was the most active player amongst the group but Hall provides key versatility at safety and corner and Houston-Carson has begun to make important plays for the Bears. This is one preseason battle that may come down to the final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. Overall, the Bears defense was nothing short of impressive and the only mistakes that were made were done by the third team defense. It looks as though the Bears will have good depth in the front seven and with talent emerging from the DBs, this defense can be dangerous in 2017.

Special Teams

The Bears’ special teams were known under Dave Toub and Devin Hester as one of the most electrifying units across the league. When Marc Trestmann came to Chicago this identity began to vanish with key contributors on special teams getting cut every season. However, it looks like the Bears are putting more emphasis on the third phase of the game.

Benny Cunningham and Deonte Thompson were great. Thompson returned a failed field goal 108 yards to the house to end the 2nd quarter and Cunningham opened the game with a 40 yard return. The Bears coverage teams were solid and didn’t allow significant gaps to form.

Overall for the return and coverage teams, there were many positives to take away. Although, Jackson failed to hold a return, fortunately, the mishap was waived off with a penalty on the Cardinals. If the Bears are serious about Jackson’s ability to start at FS, I do not want to see him in the return game. He is going to be too important to the team on defense. The same can be said with Tarik Cohen, if Thompson and Cunningham can nail down roles in the return game it will be best for the Bears going forward. In terms of the kicking competition, Connor Barth looks like he will not be in trouble with Roberto Aguayo shanking his first kick for the Bears and Barth looking steady. Barth just looks more reliable and unless Aguayo can improve against the Titans and the Browns, I can’t see a way he beats out Barth for the starting role.

My Winners

  • Tarik Cohen – Cohen was one of the most impressive players for either team and showcased his playmaking ability. Is there any doubt that he will be a key contributor on the offensive side of the ball?
  • Running Back Depth – Other than Howard and Cohen, it is clear that the Bears are in good shape at running back with good performances from Cunningham, Rounds and Carey. The Bears will hope to stash Rounds on the practice squad as he has shown enough to stick around.
  • Jonathan Bullard – Chicago, please welcome the real Jonathan Bullard. He’s improving week to week and has shown that he deserves to be in the competition to start alongside Hicks and Goldman. He has been one of the standout performers of the offseason.
  • Jaye Howard Jr.- Bullard was impressive and may deserve a starting role, but so does Jaye Howard. He and Bullard complemented each other excellently against the Cardinals and both men were disruptive in the running and passing game. The Bears are looking very potent on the defensive line.
  • Roy Robertson-Harris – Sticking with the theme of defensive line depth, another DE that has stepped up to the plate is Roy Robertson Harris. The Bears love this kid. He was hidden away from the NFL last season with an illness and this offseason he transitioned from a 3-4 OLB to a 3-4 DE and against the Cardinals he was excellent. He recorded 2 sacks and has put himself firmly in the rotation.
  • Leonard Floyd – Once again Floyd showed why he is many peoples selection for the Bears Breakout Player of the Year. He was dominating the Cardinals O-Line and applied pressure in the Running Game and Passing Game. It is hard to imagine that Floyd doesn’t have a double digit sack total in 2017.
  • Eddie Jackson – It bears repeating that Jackson is working his way up the Bears depth chart. He works well with Demps and continues to make plays on the football.
  • Vic Fangio – One of the most important members of the Bears coaching staff is Vic Fangio. He has been excellent with many of the young players and has aided in their development. Whether Fox stays or leaves the Bears at the end of the year, it is imperative that the Bears hold onto Vic Fangio.

Losers

  • Mike Glennon – Glennon is, of course, one of the biggest losers from the second preseason game. The Bears were forced to spoon feed Glennon with simple passes to get his confidence up. However, he continued to show his lack of awareness, the ability to read a defense and go through his progression. There is no reason other than he is apparently a leader in the locker room that tells me Mike Glennon should be the starting QB for the Chicago Bears.
  • John Fox- Fox is the biggest loser from the game against the Cardinals. He mis-managed the quarterback situation and put his franchise QB in a no win situation. He also managed to make himself look weak in the post game interviews by praising Glennon and saying it was a big improvement from game 1. That is embarrassing to hear as a Bears Fan. If Fox does not give Trubisky an opportunity with the 1’s just because it would upset Glennon, then maybe the Bears shouldn’t have paid a guy who is too weak mentally to deal with the responsibilities of being a QB in the NFL.
  • Hroniss Grasu – Grasu showed very little to give me confidence that he can go in week 1 and start. He was pushed back on multiple plays and missed his assignment on other plays. Overall, this needs to improve for the 3rd year man.
  • Kevin White – I think White has had some tough luck since his NFL career began. The injuries were no fault of his own. In fact, it is said he might have suffered his initial injury from over-training. Then, when has hit the field he’s been plagued by a stuttering offense and not having the most successful signal caller throwing him the ball. For the majority of his snaps in 2016, Brian Hoyer was his QB and so far he’s solely been on the field Mike Glennon. I would love to see what White can do with Trubisky under center.
  • Trubisky – Mitch Trubisky is only a loser in this game because of the position he was put into by the Bears coaching staff. He was accurate and was excellent on the run again but he was consistently under pressure and was behind a very underwhelming offensive line. It really is simple, Trubisky should be ahead of Glennon and Sanchez. He is clearly the best QB on the team and overall the Bears are doing a disservice to Trubisky, his teammates and Chicago Bear fans.
  • Jeremy Langford – Langford continues and will continue to be a loser on this list until he gets back onto the field. All of the RBs the Bears have put into action, have been impressive. If Langford can’t come back before the end of the preseason, the only way I see him sticking with the Bears, is if he goes on IR. He needs to get healthy and show the Bears he’s valuable to their rushing attack.
  • Dowell Loggains – Loggains is a loser because of the game plan for Glennon The plays were so basic, so mundane, you would think it was high school football. If these are the type of plays that are going to be called in the regular season, teams will just stack the box and ask Glennon to throw it deep and beat them that way. Loggains needs Trubisky. The rookie suits the offense Loggains wants to play but that is severely limited with Glennon. It is a make or break year for Loggains and if Glennon is the QB for 16 games, I can envision a new offensive coordinator in Chicago for the 2018 season.

 

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