On Saturday evening, the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans will take the field down in Nashville, Tennessee. In fact, this game will mark the final time either of the teams play this preseason. Normally, the preseason finale doesn't mean much. However, with only three exhibition games there is more at stake in each game.
Here are a few things to watch for during the clash between the Bears and Titans.
Obviously, the big news in the NFL right now is the COVID-19 outbreak amongst the Titans organization.
Now with the Bears heading down to Nashville this weekend, the concern is very real. Not only for the safety and well-being of the players and coaches, but also penalty of having an outbreak. The NFL is not giving leniency to teams that have COVID-19 issues anymore. The regular season is just two weeks away and gives the Bears and Titans plenty of time isolate and recover if the outbreak does spread.
Last week, Matt Nagy proclaimed two things regarding the quarterback "competition". First, he named Andy Dalton the Week 1 starter against the Rams. Second, he told the media that Justin Fields would start the preseason finale against the Titans with the starters.
That means everyone will get a good gauge on where Fields stands this week. His time with the starters will serve as a barometer to see how well he can run this offense. In turn, this game will set the length of Dalton's leash as the starting QB. Nevertheless, soak in as much of Justin Fields as you can. In the event that Dalton is efficient enough as the QB, we may be waiting a while before Fields sees the field again.
Final Audition for the WRs
Earlier this week, the Bears waived wide receiver Javon Wims. Thus, trimming down the number of receivers in the competition. As it stands, this is what the situation looks like:
Now, the question is which WRs earn the final two spots? Additionally, how many WRs do the Bears break camp with? Will it be five, six, or maybe even seven? Although the competition for the final two or three spots is pretty stiff, the team recently brought in ex-Texans WR Isaiah Coulter to boost the level of competition.
Regardless, Saturday will be telling for the rest of the guys battling for the final spots.
Once believed to have the inside track, Damiere Byrd has fallen out of that spot with the emergence of Rodney Adams. Byrd has been lackluster so far in camp and hasn't really stood out. Nonetheless, the WR battle heats up as the final audition nears.
Theres no way to sugarcoat it. The defense was dreadful last week against the Buffalo Bills. Everything about the performance was tough to stomach. The tackling was bad and the effort was even worse. So much so that safety Tashaun Gipson called out his unit during a media session.
Hopefully, in their final tune up game, the Bears can clean up their issues and the sloppiness on the field. The tackling and effort has to be drastically better because in two weeks the real games begin. While it's nice to finally have faith in the offense with new QBs, everyone knows it'll be the defense that carries the team again in 2021. A crack in the foundation (the defense) means the entire structure comes crumbling down. The Bears will go as far as the defense takes them.
Yes, it's only preseason. However, the faith and confidence in Matt Nagy continues to waver. The fourth-year head coach hasn't really provided much that inspires anyone. It's mostly been "bleh" to this point. Nagy has one exhibition game left before everything matters. His handling of the play-calling duties, the offense, and the QB situation has to be done carefully. There may be no room for error for him anymore. As a result, Nagy will be planted on the hot seat in 2021 and coaching to save his job. The well of excuses is running dry for him these days. It's time to put up or shut up.