Going into their third and final preseason game, the Chicago Bears still had a lot of questions to answer. Between Justin Fields finally getting reps with the first-team offensive line and the ongoing position battles in the secondary, there was a lot to watch for as the Bears wrapped up their preseason in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans.
The Chicago Bears looked impressive in their final preseason game, but many questions linger with the season opener only two weeks away.
Primarily, it was obvious that Justin Fields looked ready to start. It was disappointing to see Nagy not play Fields to start the second half after he got such limited snaps in the opening two quarters. Fortunately, his last drive culminating in a touchdown to Jesper Horsted further confirmed what every reporter, “insider”, and fan had been saying for weeks about the ongoing Justin Fields-Andy Dalton controversy.
Matt Nagy admitted himself, that when Justin Fields is ready to start, we will all know it (per Josh Alper, Pro Football Talk NBC Sports). So, following yet another impressive performance, what is Matt Nagy seeing that nobody else is? Is he seeing something in Dalton that everyone else has overlooked or is he being overly cautious with Fields when there’s minimal reason to be?
Even reporters who have the most insight into the Chicago Bears organization (after players, coaches, and front office) are also echoing fans’ sentiment about starting Justin Fields. Adam Hoge, of NBC Sports Chicago, highlighted 10 reasons why Fields should start week one. I challenge any Bears fan to refute even one of those points and come up with half as many in support of Dalton.
Additionally, questions still remain in the secondary. While there were a number of bright spots including Tre Roberson’s pick-six and improved tackling in general, I found that the secondary was too reliant on the front seven generating pressure to cover up their deficiencies as a unit in the back end.
Duke Shelley’s play against the Titans was a microcosm of his time in Chicago thus far. On one occasion he was quick to get into the backfield and tackle a running back for a loss. However, two plays later, he gets put in the spin cycle by Logan Woodside, the Titans third-string quarterback. Later, he dropped what should have been an easy interception.
Kindle Vildor and Artie Burns have also had up-and-down offseasons. Playing alongside Jaylon Johnson, Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and the Chicago Bears front seven will surely make their lives easier, but I still wanted to see more from them individually against the Titans.
Teams preparing for the Bears are surely going to use quick passes to try and neutralize the pass rush. If the second outside corner and slot defensive back can’t hold up in coverage, it might not even matter who else the Bears have on the field defensively as the weak parts of the secondary will be relentlessly attacked.
Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic, on their 53-man roster projection, both noted that the Bears still lack stability at their second starting cornerback position opposite Jaylon Johnson and in the slot. Therefore, they will likely compensate in numbers, i.e. retaining as many guys as possible and rotating players based on performance – further emphasizing how unsettling the Bears secondary group is right now.
All in all, the Chicago Bears did well to end their preseason on a strong note, especially after their lackluster performance last weekend against Buffalo. However, regarding Justin Fields and the secondary, many questions still remain. The Bears have a tall task in front of them in Los Angeles two weeks from now but before they can contend with the Rams, they need to answer their own questions in-house.