Final Thoughts: Bears Have Some Bright Spots, But Still Have Plenty To Work On

Final Thoughts: Bears Have Some Bright Spots, But Still Have Plenty To Work On
Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins #96 and defensive end Pernell McPhee #92 of the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The outcome in preseason games doesn’t carry much weight, but the Bears were able to beat Miami 27-10 in the opener at Soldier Field on Thursday night.

The Bears’ defense allowed the Dolphins to go right down the field on a 14-play, 85-yard drive to open the game. The drive was capped off by a two-yard touchdown by wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

There’s plenty of work to do over the next month and the defense is still a work in progress much like Adam Gase’s offense. Right tackle Jordan Mills and center Will Montgomery each had false start penalties and overall the Bears had 15 penalties for 83 yards. That needs to be patched up before the season gets underway.

Miami had two big plays on their first drive of the game which spanned over eight minutes. Wide receiver Greg Jennings reeled in a 19-yard grab right in front of cornerback Kyle Fuller and on the very next play running back Lamar Miller gashed the Bears’ defense for a 27-yard carry.

Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins had a nice run stuff on the very first play of the night holding Miller to a one-yard run. Big off-season acquisition Pernell McPhee assisted on the play, but he was caught out of position on Miller’s 27-yard run and later had an offsides penalty.

Safety Brock Vereen had a rough night as he allowed the Landry touchdown and Ryan Tannehill picked on him often on the opening drive. Jared Allen dropped what appeared to be an easy interception just moments before Miami scored.

Defensive success

Outside linebacker Sam Acho, who is listed with the second team behind Jared Allen had a sack in the first half on a key third down. He also had a quarterback pressure on third down with eight minutes left in the third quarter and an interception on the second play of the fourth quarter with the Dolphins pinned back inside their own 10-yard-line.

Acho recorded the pick while defensive lineman Cornelius Washington put pressure on quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and undrafted rookie linebacker Jonathan Anderson drew a double team on a delayed blitz. Acho should be the starter over Allen opposite McPhee in my opinion. However, the Bears could opt to use a rotation at outside linebacker at times.

Undrafted rookie John Timu added another interception on the night late in the third quarter on a leaping grab while Malcolm Bronson capped off the game with an interception, the fourth turnover produced by the Bears’ defense.

Sherrick McManis perhaps had the best night for the Bears, leading the way with four tackles. He also forced and recovered a fumble and had a pass deflection. The sixth-year cornerback is trying to be more than just a special teamer and he proved that he could be on Thursday night.

Another corner, who had a nice game was Alan Ball. Ball signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Bears this off-season and added two pass breakups on the night.

Defensive tackle Will Sutton showed why he can be a nice piece as a defensive end in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense with three tackles, two solo stops. Ego Ferguson made a nice tackle in a brief appearance with the first-team.

Hope on offense

Second-year running back Ka’Deem Carey had an impressive 21-yard run on a kick out block by Vladimir Ducasse. He later scored the first touchdown for the Bears late in the third quarter on 4th-and-1. Near the end of the fourth quarter, second-year Louisville product Senorise Perry made a nice cutback move and scampered in for a 54-yard touchdown run.

The top three backs on the night were Carey, Perry and starter Jacquizz Rodgers. The trio combined for 156 rushing yards on 24 carries. Fourth-round rookie Jeremy Langford finished with four carries for one yard, with two of the runs going for a loss. Daniel Thomas looked unimpressive with five runs for nine yards. The fight for the backup spots behind Forte looks to be better than expected.

Quarterback turned wide receiver Cameron Meredith led the Bears with four catches for 47 yards and looks poised to be a practice squad player or possibly the final receiver on the roster.

Jimmy Clausen looked patient in the new offense, completing 17 of 27 passes for 151 yards. He added a two-point conversion on a completion to A.J. Cruz on a crossing route. Jay Cutler hit on four of seven pass attempts for 42 yards in two drives on the night.

Special teams recap

Robbie Gould connected on all four field-goal attempts on the night and his lone extra point try. His long was 48 yards. Second-year punter Pat O’Donnell showed consistency with five punts for an average of 47.2 yards. He had two punts land inside the 20-yard-line and a long of 60 yards.

Perry had a 42-yard kick return in the second half and Cruz had a 27-yard return in the first half. Also, the coverage team looked much more decisive than it did a year ago.

Injury report

Second-year cornerback Terrance Mitchell had two tackles and a pass breakup before exiting in the second quarter after being part of a helmet-to-helmet play. Mitchell was evaluated for a concussion, but was cleared to play. However, the Bears held him out.

Running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery didn’t play in Thursday night’s game. Forte was in uniform, but Jeffery sat out with a calf injury, John Fox said after the game. He says the injury is day-to-day and Jeffery is wearing a walking boot to speed up his recovery.

Outside linebackers Lamarr Houston and Willie Young didn’t suit up as the Bears plan to ease them back into things after their offseason surgeries.

Final practices in Bourbonnais

The Bears hold their final two training camp practices in Bourbonnais this weekend.

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