In my last article before Saturday’s preseason game, I listed three players I would be watching closely: LT Braxton Jones, S Jaquan Brisker, and every receiver not named Darnell Mooney. Here’s my three takeaways on these individuals after watching the game live and then re-watching.
Roll the tape from Saturday for an average football fan and they would have no idea that Jones is a fifth-round rookie making his first NFL start. Jones, playing an important position against some serious talent, looked like a savvy vet going through the motions for the hundredth time for much of the game. While Fields faced a lot of pressure and collapsing pockets, in all but one instance it had nothing to do with Jones.
As I’m writing this, reports from camp say that Jones is having himself a bad day in practice. That’s the first time I’ve heard of that happening, and we’d be foolish to expect perfection from the rookie. He’s had far more good days than bad in camp, and his first preseason action only confirmed what we’ve seen so far. Here’s hoping Poles found a long-term starter with a Day 3 pick!
I simply cannot say enough good things about Brisker’s performance Saturday. That man was all over the field, making plays and delivering some rib-rattling hits. In one sequence, he single-handedly forced a Chiefs’ 3-and-out: tackle for a loss, tackle, pass-breakup, punt.
He nearly came down with his first takeaway late in the game, something he stated in the week leading up to gameday that he wanted badly, but a diving wide receiver took his legs out from under him and prevented what would have been a pick-six.
After one preseason game, I’ve seen enough. Brisker is a dawg and he’s going to be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. In six months’ time I don’t think a single Bears fans will regret the pick we used on him.
The Wide Receivers
For the most part, I was satisfied with the production from our wide receivers. Tajae Sharpe had those two ridiculous catches along the sidelines, and Dazz Newsome ran a great route for a touchdown in the third quarter, plus an end run that nearly went for another touchdown, making up for his poor first half performance (as I write, he just hauled in a beautiful touchdown grab from Fields in practice).
I was disappointed that Equanimeous St. Brown did not make much of a splash in the game after a couple weeks of highlight reel catches in practice. Hopefully we can work him into the gameplan more before Velus Jones Jr. and Byron Pringle return so that we can see more of his potential.
Dante Pettis and Chris Finke pulled in some nice catches for big gains, as well.
I think it’s important to note that two starting receivers, Jones and Pringle, did not play. We already know that Mooney is going to be a menace all season long. After him, if just two receivers can put up respectable numbers, combining for something like 1700 yards and ten touchdowns, then I think our wide receiver room will prove to be middle of the pack with a chance to improve in the draft, which would be a far better finish for them than most in the media are predicting.
All in all, it was nice to see some fun, competitive football from our Chicago Bears again! We’ve got a quick turnaround with another preseason game on Thursday, this one in Seattle against the Seahawks in their first season sans Russell Wilson since 2012. Let’s hope for another win, another game with no serious injuries, and more improvements from the team!