It wasn’t exactly a dress rehearsal, and it was quite evident that both starting units had limited preseason reps. Both units were unimpressive, but the Bears escaped relatively unscathed.
The game also provided one last opportunity for players to make an impression, where undrafted rookie phenom Tyson Bagent put an exclamation mark on his case for the backup quarterback job.
There was plenty to break down following Chicago’s loss to Indianapolis, including the starters’ performance and the QB2 battle. Our Bears Wire staff is sharing their thoughts following the preseason finale.
The Bears’ Week 3 preseason loss vs. Bills
I ended the preseason with the same mindset that I started with: Don’t overreact to preseason. Whether it was Justin Fields’ two screen touchdowns in Week 1 or him not being as sharp in Week 3. Or the defense totaling eight sacks in Week 1 or the defense being unable to stop the Bills’ run game. While the starting offense and defense were less than stellar – everything is vanilla in preseason – the important thing was that the healthy starters left the field still healthy. (Especially when you consider Fields was behind an offensive line without three starters).
Saturday’s preseason finale also presented an opportunity for roster bubble players to put on one last show before Tuesday’s cuts. That featured the battle for QB2 with undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent and P.J. Walker. It was quite telling that Bagent was the one who replaced Fields – and that he played into the third quarter. While Bagent’s stats didn’t blow anyone away, it was his execution of the offense, his calm demeanor and pocket presence that stood out. The Bears could have something special with Bagent. So, while I believe he earned the QB2 job, even if they’re not ready to give it to him, Bagent at least earned a roster spot.
Trevis Gipson requesting permission – and being granted – to seek a trade wasn’t on my Bingo card heading into this game. Gipson, while quite low on the depth chart, has had an impressive preseason, including a strip sack against Bills quarterback Kyle Allen. I believe both Gipson and Terrell Lewis have earned a roster spot over, say, Rasheem Green, who hasn’t been nearly as impactful. Now, the Bears don’t have to trade Gipson. But the fact that they granted permission for a trade indicates that he most likely won’t be on the roster come Tuesday’s cuts.
All in all, I bid adieu to the preseason and am ready to embrace the regular season with open arms. You know, when the games start to count.
Just like that, the NFL preseason has come and gone, and for the first time in four years, the Chicago Bears ended it with a losing record. Not that it matters much, especially after they won as many games in the preseason as they did in the regular season. But who doesn’t want to see a win and feel warm and fuzzy about their favorite football team heading into Week 1? Especially with the starters on both sides of the ball seeing action.
Those feelings never came because the Bears fell behind against the Buffalo Bills and never recovered. Just like they struggled against the Tennessee Titans two weeks earlier, the starting defense was trampled by the Buffalo offense on the opening possession that resulted in a touchdown. This time, however, Justin Fields and the Bears offense couldn’t find the magic to take back the lead.
Fields wasn’t as sharp as he was two weeks ago, missing on deep shots towards the sideline and holding onto the ball a bit longer than he should have. Though he did find D.J. Moore for what turned out to be a long gain, it was a forgettable day for QB1, and he was pulled before he could even finish out the drive. Undrafted rookie sensation Tyson Bagent relieved Fields and eventually got the Bears into the end zone with a rushing touchdown. But his passing regressed from last week’s performance against the Indianapolis Colts, and he threw for just 43 yards on 14 attempts. It didn’t help that the ground game was ineffective, and the Bears were down to their fourth-string center on the offensive line.
Overall, the offense looked out of sync, the defense couldn’t stop the run, and penalties reared their ugly head again for the third week in a row, which might be the most concerning development of all. Outside of that, let’s just make sure the vast majority of the starters are healthy for Week 1. Like all NFL teams in this new era of reduced preseason games and truncated training camps, the Bears will take time to gel into the regular season. Having players healthy, however, goes a long way toward speeding up that process. Let’s see how this team looks in two weeks.
The Bears’ preseason started as a rollercoaster ride, and it ended as one. Excitement was high when head coach Matt Eberflus announced that all healthy starters would play, but the excitement was quickly doused when the game actually began.
The Bills offense effortlessly pushed over the starting Bears defense for an opening score, leaving it up to the first-team offense to get revenge. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t seem to be in a competitive sort of mood, quickly going three and out on two straight drives. The third drive was apparently the charm, as Fields finally hit on an intermediate throw to star receiver DJ Moore, who ran away from defenders for another 20 yards. The drive ended on a sour note, however, when running back D’Onta Foreman suffered an injury following a short screen pass from Fields, who himself took a big shot from a Bills defender.
The pair were promptly taken out of the game (though Fields wasn’t hurt), and that was that for the starters. I think I speak on behalf of the fanbase when I say I was left feeling a bit frustrated. Frustrated with the defense making mental mistakes that allowed the Bills offense to score so easily, and frustration with the offense not looking much improved from where they were last season. It’s important to say that the preseason isn’t the best indicator for how someone performs in the regular season; Fields himself had a great preseason last year and he still had a slow start to the 2022 season. The preseason does provide a good snapshot for what the Chicago Bears will look like in the upcoming season. That snapshot, with the team’s mediocre play and compiling injuries, did not turn out well.
The Bears lost back-to-back games, this one to a tough Buffalo team. Now that preseason is over, it’s time to look forward to the regular season. Despite the 1-2 record, there are positives. Tyson Bagent has proven himself as a solid backup quarterback for Justin Fields. D.J. Moore has shown that not only is he an explosive player, but he has the ability to make an impact play any time he touches the ball. This offense is going to be improved.
It’s all up to how Fields plays in the regular season. If he can take that necessary jump from Year 2 to Year 3, the Chicago Bears will be a competitive football team in 2023. Green Bay, the team who has beaten Chicago the most this past decade, is a great test for Week 1. Let’s see if this team has made the right adjustments and improvements during the offseason.
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