The Chicago Bears‘ 22-0 loss (courtesy of the Chicago Bears’ team website) to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night left little to be desired. There is usually nothing to learn during NFL preseason game, but there were several things we were able to learn about the Bears.
Win or lose, it did not matter. There were things that the Bears had on their agenda, as well as a few things they wanted to see. Taking a loss was just a mere formality. The Bears’ 22-0 defeat is obviously not the best cure-all for a team with holes. Several questions remain for the Bears. Those answers are going to be determined by the expectations.
Few people expect the Bears to be a playoff team. Somewhere in the seven to eight win range makes sense and would show improvement. There were five noticeable observations that will affect how much has changed for the better or worse.
Jay Cutler’s Accuracy Has Improved
Much of how good the Bears can be rests on the arm, or accuracy of Jay Cutler. Cutler did not play much against the Broncos, but going 3-4 with 18 yards was a good enough start. Jay Cutler looked sharp versus a defense that was in his face on every throw. The Bears’ protection is a work in progress but the quarterback did not flinch. That is a good sign.
What Jay Cutler endured playing behind the Bears’ offensive line on Thursday night could become a regular thing. As long as he does not hold on to the football too long, the Bears will be fine. If Cutler can continue to hit his receivers and put them in the position to make some plays, that would be worth two wins for the Bears.
Kevin White Caught His First Pass.
Kevin White actually caught a pass for the Chicago Bears!
It seemed as if the moment would never come. A highly-touted rookie once he was drafted with the eighth pick in the 2015 draft, there was some big plans for White. All it took was for an injury to happen and it took the wind out of the Bears sails quickly. White had not played in an NFL game prior to Thursday night, so to see him finally run a route was good. The Bears’ receiver is just as quick as advertised.
White’s anticipated debut was brief but necessary. The only thing that spoiled it was that he did not receive the first target from Jay Cutler. The Kevin White watch continues next Thursday night against the New England Patriots. Expect him to get more reps.
Leonard Floyd Will Be A Multipurpose Player
Floyd lined up all over the Bears’ defensive front-seven and he did not appear overmatched.
The first thing that you notice is Leonard Floyd’s speed. The rookie outside linebacker gets around a block fast. On the downside, he still needs to add some strength. There were a couple of times when Floyd’s speed alone could not get him in the Broncos’ backfield. The best way to counter that is for him to develop a go-to move. Hand positioning, a deft swim move or even bull rush will take him to great depths. It will be interesting to watch Leonard Floyd grow.
The Offensive Line Was Offensive
The season-ending injury (via ESPN) to center Hroniss Grasu is not supposed to hurt the Bears this badly. It seemed as if the Bears had lost a Pro Bowler, not a second-year player attempting to improve on an uneven season.
Losing Grasu meant the depth on the Bears’ offensive line was going to take a hit. The five guys who will start may not have changed, but the flexibility has vanished.
The good news for the Bears is that there is still time for the unit to gel. Giving up seven sacks, even in a preseason game is unacceptable. The same can be said for allowing a safety. Jay Cutler will have an awful year if he cannot get the protection. To help with that element there could be some times when the running back will set up blocks to keep Cutler safe.
The Bears’ Special Teams Continue To Struggle
If the Bears want to have a good year the special teams must do their part. Aside from a couple of hits, tackling was a chore. There was also trouble holding on to the blocks. Nothing was more clear about this than during the blocked punt which led to a Broncos’ touchdown.
The return game looked okay, not stellar.
More plays will be needed from this group. The Bears would be helped by better field position on offense. It would be nice to see what Jay Cutler can do with an average starting position at the 30-yard line or better more times than not. This will make the Bears’ roster battle between Daniel Braverman, Cameron Meredith, and Marc Mariani an intriguing one. Whoever can help more on kickoff and punt returns will get the Bears’ roster nod.
The Bears’ 22-0 loss is meaningless in terms of any regular season expectations. There were some things that we learned on Thursday night. Will the good revelations remain positive? Will the things that need to be worked on improve? That is what we will find out.
This is going to be an interesting year for the Chicago Bears.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]