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Bears Preseason Takeaways: Now it Gets Real

Here are the main takeaways from the Bears 27-24 victory over the Titans in the preseason finale. Now, the Bears can look ahead to starting the season in Los Angeles against the Rams in two weeks.

Photo: Chicago Sun-Times/AP Photos

The Chicago Bears capped off the preseason with a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. Thus, finishing their slate of exhibition games with a 2-1 record. Now, between the preseason finale and opening night in Los Angeles, stands only fifteen sleeps and one major wave of roster cuts. The performance as a whole was leaps and bounds better than last week. More so, some individuals stood out and will make the roster decisions tough on Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. The Bears stepped up big time against their counterparts in the finale.

But without further ado, here are the takeaways from Saturday’s win in Nashville over the Tennessee Titans.

Justin Fields vs. Tennessee

The 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft got his time to shine on Saturday. Justin Fields finally got his first start at quarterback, albeit in the final game of the preseason with none of his starting wide receivers, running backs, or tight ends against the Titans’ first team defense.

Although the entire cast on the offensive line made their debut together, Fields performed about as well as one could ask of him in that situation. The rookie QB wasn’t flashy nor was he bad. In fact, he was boring for the most part, which isn’t a knock on him.

Fields was effective as QB1 against Tennessee. His stat line didn’t wow anyone by any means, but he finished the night completing seven of ten passes for 54 yards and one touchdown. On top of that, he logged zero turnovers. Talk about protecting the football. However, his one touchdown pass was a thing of beauty and caught everyone’s attention.

Here is another view of the same pass. This was such a filthy throw. Also, deserving some praise here is Jesper Horsted for making an amazing catch in traffic. We’ll get to him later.

Justin Fields: Overall

What an impression the Ohio State alum made in his first few games in the NFL. The overall body of work in just three measly games is quite impressive. Fields seems like the fast learner he and many others claimed him to be. Even though it’s just three games of preseason, he balled out for the Bears, especially considering the circumstances he’s played under so far.

In what world can anyone think that Fields shouldn’t start over Andy Dalton? This preseason proved as much. But alas there is one man who still feels that way.

Matt Nagy

Photo: NBC Sports Chicago

What more can anyone say about this guy? His decision making and offense make no sense and he has everyone banging their heads against a wall trying to figure it out. The fourth-year head coach should just change his name to “Rocket Science” because he’s too difficult to understand. Jokes aside, his offense looked putrid right off the bat. A punt, turnover on downs, punt were the results of the first three drives. All of this spanning 14 plays and a whopping total of 21 yards on those three possessions.

The first half, before Justin Fields unleashed his super powers on the final drive, was much of the same from last week. The highlight of Matt Nagy‘s offensive wizardry was when he waved his wand and cast a spell to make an offensive drive stall. Yet again, on fourth-and-1, your highness made the correct decision to go for it at midfield. However, in a plot twist, he called the worst possible play imaginable knowing his offensive line wasn’t getting any push. It was a run play from the shotgun formation.

It was so bad that ex-Bears running back Matt Forte had to chime in.

Now, Nagy’s seat starts getting warm. The buffer of exhibition games is no more. Every week matters for him and his coaching staff. Hopefully, they figure it out quick.

Offensive Line

Speaking of one Nagy’s coaches, Juan Castillo and his unit have a lot of work to do. The starting offensive line got their first game together under their belts on Saturday.

Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty at all. Quite frankly, the start of the game was brutal to watch. Germain Ifedi was massacred on his first snap in pass protection. This resulted in Justin Fields getting sacked and forcing a three-and-out.

As mentioned earlier, the offensive line wasn’t at it’s best against Tennessee. The unit was especially bad early in the game as they struggled to pass protect or get any push in the running game. While the offensive line struggled, one football expert took to Twitter to voiced his concerns.

Jason Peters

Conversely, Jason Peters had a great debut for the Bears. While it seems he may be their answer at left tackle, it all depends on his health because based on this game, he still has some left in the tank. The 39-year-old Peters was pushing defensive players around and giving Fields the protection he needs on his blind side.

Jesper Horsted

Of course, one can’t talk about the offense without acknowledging the man, the myth, the legend, Jesper Horsted. While the ongoing battle at WR was something to watch for, it was TE Jesper Horsted that opened up many eyes by showing up and showing out for the Bears. Consequently, Horsted led the team in receiving by hauling in five receptions for 104 yards. Additionally, he tacked on three touchdowns to his stat line. One of those touchdowns was a sick one-handed grab late in the fourth quarter.

If anything, Horsted may have played himself onto the 53-man roster.

Wide Receivers

Unfortunately, none of the fringe WRs stepped up during the game. Considering that there were spots up for grabs, it was real disappointing to see.

ReceptionsYardsAVGTDTGTS
Dazz Newsome11919.002
Jon’Vea Johnson3196.303
Isaiah Coulter2178.503
Riley Ridley2126.002
Rodney Adams3155.003

Defense

Overall, the body of work compared to last week was significantly improved. The defense cleaned up it’s tackling and the effort was much better. Furthermore, Sean Desai‘s unit added two more footballs to the “takeaway bucket”.

First, it was Danny Trevathan getting it started with an interception in the early stages of the game off of Matt Barkley.

Similarly, it was Tre Roberson‘s turn to get into the act with an interception of his own. However, he one upped Trevathan by taking his takeaway to the house for six!

Nonetheless, the defense was out there doing their thing. A solid effort from the unit despite conceding 24 points to the Titans’ backups.

Cornerback #2

Now there is no cause for alarm, but the Bears still don’t have a reliable cornerback to go alongside of Jaylon Johnson. If this game was any indicator, then it proves that neither Duke Shelly, Kindle Vildor, Artie Burns, Thomas Graham Jr., Marqui Christian nor Tre Roberson really took grasp of the opportunity. There were are lot of flashes but no real consistency. It’ll be interesting to see if Ryan Pace and company wait for cuts to see if anyone becomes available or whether they continue to give some of their in-house candidates more opportunities. One thing is for sure, come Week One against the Rams, whomever lines up as CB2 will be tested by Sean McVay and those WRs.

Trevis Gipson

As far as individual performances go, Trevis Gipson really stood out for the Bears. The second-year player wreaked havoc on the Titans offensive line. While he didn’t stuff the stat sheet, he was often forcing the issue with the Titans QBs. Whether it was swiping at the football in the QBs hands, or generating pressure, and/or forcing the QB out of pocket, he was everywhere. On both takeaways by the defense, Gipson was big part of them.

Obviously, this a positive development for the Bears, especially considering Robert Quinn‘s recent injury history and his price tag going forward. Gipson will be one to keep an eye on this season.

Danny Trevathan

Finally, it seems the Danny Trevathan of old is back. Last year, he seemed to have gotten off to a slow start. But, he did gradually start to find himself again and by the end of the season, he was nearly all the way back. However, during the Titans game, Trevathan made an impact immediately. He was instinctual and fast. Quite frankly, it was good to see the captain of the defense back to his old ways.

New Injuries

After the game, head coach Matt Nagy discussed the new injuries suffered during the game. As of now, only four players are dealing with new ailments.

Hopefully, Nagy provides an update on Monday when he meets with the media.

Fun Facts & Nuggets

A fun little tweet for your viewing pleasure:

What’s On Tap Next?

Now, the Chicago Bears prepare to take on the Los Angeles Rams in two weeks on Sunday Night Football to kick-off the season. While everyone awaits for Sunday, September 12 at 7:20 p.m. CDT, there’s still a roster trim down deadline looming. On Tuesday, at 3:00 p.m. CDT, the Bears will have to reduce their roster from 80 to 53.

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Writer/contributor for On Tap Sports Net and Bears on Tap. Lifelong and a die-hard fan of the Bears, Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks. Nothing but respect the White Sox though. Enjoying life and having a good time. Interests also include eating, gaming, sometimes reading and tons of tomfoolery. Good sense of humor (although sometimes dry). Occasionally witty. Follow me on Twitter

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