Bears' first team makes strides in preseason loss to Patriots

Bears' first team makes strides in preseason loss to Patriots
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 18: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots runs on to the field before a preseason game with the Chicago Bears in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Bears looked much better on Thursday night after scoring no points in a 22-0 home loss to Denver last week.

In New England, a place the Bears have been for the past four days, three of which spent in joint practices, John Fox’s group put together a better showing.

Yes, the Patriots didn’t have starters Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis or Julian Edelman, but the Bears were able to move the ball down the field offensively rather swiftly with their first team.

In the end, New England came out winners 23-22 as the Bears picked up 331 yards and 17 first downs in nearly 28 minutes with the ball. The Patriots amassed 373 yards and 23 first downs in just over 32 minutes offensively.

Perhaps the best progress came with longer drives as Pat O’Donnell punted four times on the night. Last week, he blasted nine.

The good

Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler, Jeremy Langford, John Timu, Jonathan Bullard and Connor Shaw all stuck out to me.

–The burst and strength was back for Alshon Jeffery. He made a point to bully cornerback Justin Coleman from the start, hauling in two grabs for 41 yards. The best was a 29-yard back shoulder grab. Jeffery simply looked like a dominant player with a lot of swagger.

–Jay Cutler had ample time in the pocket on the night and got the best out of his unit completing 8-of-12 passes for 83 yards. He had command of the offense as they totaled 11 points in the first quarter. The lone mistake was stepping up in the pocket which led to a sack, the only one surrendered as a team.

–The main difference for Jeremy Langford tonight was the fact that he had running lanes to work with. Kyle Long and Charles Leno paved the way even Jeffery on Langford’s 34-yard run. He added a 5-yard score and simply played with a lot of burst. He’s the clear No. 1 back right now. Fourth round rookie Jordan Howard showed well behind him (11 carries, 46 yards).

–Jonathan Anderson drew the start next to Jerrell Freeman inside, but John Timu did more in my eyes. The Washington product added six tackles and nearly had an interception. He’s valuable depth on this team. Also, Sam Acho performed well again with two tackles and a half-a-sack.

–Third round selection Jonathan Bullard had two tackles (one for a loss) last week and against the Patriots he had two tackles and combined on a sack with Leonard Floyd. He consistently beat his guy and looked very quick off the snap.

–I’m not sure anyone saw this coming with Connor Shaw. After completing 2-of-4 pass attempts last week as the fourth quarterback, he led the Bears right down the field with the third team. His 22-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Daniels came across his body and was on the money. David Fales has to be concerned right now.

The bad

The backup wide receivers looked shaky, Brian Hoyer played poorly, Bobby Massie was inconsistent and the backup safety spot is weak.

–There wasn’t much help with the second team receiving group with Josh Bellamy catching two passes for 30 yards. Deonte Thompson, Cameron Meredith and Daniel Braverman failed to make a catch on a combined six targets. The Bears are more undermanned than we thought at the position.

–Speaking of struggles, Brian Hoyer threw an interception for a second straight week. He had command of the offense last week, but this time around he looked erratic. On the night, Hoyer completed just 4-of-14 passes for 85 yards. Take away a 52-yard catch and run by Rob Housler and his night flat out stunk.

–The first team offensive line helped open up running lanes consistently and gave Cutler time to go through his reads. However, Bobby Massie’s play at right tackle concerned me as aging veteran Chris Long picked on him time and time again. Massie was given a lot of money this off-season to hold down the right side.

–Chris Prosinski really struggled in coverage. He gave up a touchdown to tight end AJ Derby in the third quarter on a dart from Jimmy Garoppolo. Deon Bush was late on the help over the top and right now if either Adrian Amos or Harold Jones-Quartey were to suffer an injury I’m not sure how consistent this group would be.

The ugly

The cornerback depth is getting worse by the minute and Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson did very little again.

–It was revealed after the game that Kyle Fuller didn’t make the trip to New England this week because he went under arthroscopic surgery on his knee. John Fox called him week-to-week and they are hopeful he’ll return for the season opener, but according to Proliance Surgeons it takes up to six weeks for the knee joint to re-establish normal joint fluid after arthroscopic surgery. However, some patients are able to return to regular activities within two weeks, but most require the full six to be back to 100 percent.

–On top of that Bryce Callahan (hamstring) sat out the game and Jacoby Glenn suffered a concussion. Glenn started opposite Tracy Porter who stood out on the night with a forced fumble in the redzone just moments after being called for pass interference.

–Two high picks from the 2014 draft, defensive linemen Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson are fighting for roster spots. Sutton had three tackles and a couple of key run stuffs but he also missed a few as well. Ferguson on the other hand, ran with the first team quite a bit posting just one tackle. These guys need to stand out, in a good way in next week’s game.

Injury report

Cornerback Jacoby Glenn (concussion), tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot/ankle) all suffered injuries in the game.

Wide receivers Derek Keaton and Eddie Royal, tight ends Ben Braunecker, Zach Miller, defensive lineman Cornelius Washington (knee/ankle), running backs Ka’Deem Carey (concussion) and Senorise Perry, cornerbacks Bryce Callahan (muscle strain) and Kyle Fuller (knee) and linebackers Danny Trevathan (hamstring) and Nick Kwiatkoski (hamstring) all sat out.

Next up

The Bears host Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs in preseason game No. 3 next Saturday at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT. This is where the first team sees the most action, typically the entire first half.

What did you take away from this game? Comment below.

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