Five takeaways from the Bears’ 24-23 win against the Broncos
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DENVER — With two injuries and an interception, the Bears’ five-day trip to Colorado didn’t end so well for their best players. Here are five takeaways from the Bears’ 24-23 preseason victory against the Broncos, who outplayed them in some areas after two joint practices:
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky ended his night by accepting blame for Broncos safety Justin Simmons’ interception in the second quarter. He also dropped a snap in the end zone, which led to a safety.
But there still was plenty of good to go with the bad for Trubisky. Coach Matt Nagy said during the week that Trubisky’s arrow was up after practicing against the Broncos. That remains true.
There are plays Trubisky made that Nagy certainly will like when they review the film together, especially Trubisky’s touch pass on the run to wide receiver Anthony Miller for a 19-yard gain to Denver’s 24-yard line.
Trubisky had no issues with lofting a pass over Broncos star linebacker Von Miller for his seven-yard touchdown to tight end Trey Burton off play-action early in the second quarter. Nagy also was bold and called a sneak for Trubisky on fourth down.
“Within our plays, there’s usually answers,” Nagy said of Trubisky’s touchdown throw. “What we’re trying to build right now is, how quickly do we find our answers? That was one there where he found it on time. He hit it, and he made the defense pay.”
Of course, there are facets that Trubisky needs to fix for the Bears’ next exhibition against the Chiefs, his last tune-up for the regular season. But that applies to everyone on offense.
A better route from running back Tarik Cohen would’ve helped against Simmons, though Trubisky said his throw could have been in a better spot. The Bears also called a timeout late in the first quarter because Cohen didn’t line up in the right place.
Right tackle Bobby Massie’s false start and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc’s bad decision to fair-catch a punt on the Bears’ 5 preceded outside linebacker Bradley Chubb’s sack of Trubisky for a safety.
Nagy finally opened his playbook and showed off a little. The frequent motions and various screens will be staples during the regular season.
“We’re still hiding a bunch of good stuff, too,” Trubisky said, smiling. “There is a lot of good stuff in this offense.”
Burton’s strong night also is an indication of what’s to come this year. As expected, he was all over the field as the “U” tight end.
After two strong practices against the Broncos, he made four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. He might be worthy of TE1 status in some fantasy leagues.
The Bears, though, struggled to move the ball on the ground with running back Jordan Howard. On the Bears’ first play, defensive tackle Derek Wolfe beat left guard Eric Kush to stop Howard for no gain.
Howard had 32 yards on nine carries. His 17-yard run that closed out the first quarter accounted for more than half of his yardage.
A tough break
The Bears’ luck with injuries officially ran out early in the first quarter. Tight end Adam Shaheen’s right foot got caught in the turf on his five-yard reception.
Shaheen appeared to injure his ankle and was in severe pain. He left the Bears’ sideline on a cart and was in a boot and on crutches later on.
“I’m not sure what his status is but obviously Adam’s a great player, so we’re just hoping we get him back as soon as possible,” Trubisky said.
The depth and talent of the Bears’ tight ends will be tested now if Shaheen is out for an extended period. Dion Sims didn’t play or practice against the Broncos this week because of a concussion.
The Bears value the potential of Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker, but neither is like Shaheen, the team’s second-round pick from a year ago.
Nagy had big plans for Shaheen. That was apparent during Shaheen’s two productive practices against the Broncos. Burton and Shaheen gave the Broncos’ starters plenty of problems over two days.
A tough break 2
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd hurt his right hand and didn’t return. He had a cast on it when leaving the locker room.
The Bears might be able to survive and adjust without Shaheen, but losing Floyd severely hinders the defense.
No position is thinner than outside linebacker for the Bears, and Floyd’s durability remains a major concern. Aaron Lynch hasn’t practiced since injuring his hamstring during the Bears’ first day in Bourbonnais.
Kylie Fitts, Isaiah Irving and Kasim Edebali are next in line, and they played plenty against the Broncos’ top reserves. Backup quarterback Chad Kelly, though, was 7-for-9 for 90 yards and a 145.4 passer rating.
Enough is enough
In the second quarter, cornerback Kyle Fuller was penalized for lowering his head to initiate contact when he helped safety Adrian Amos tackle fullback Andy Janovich.
The problem is that Fuller didn’t.
He rightfully tapped his right shoulder after he was penalized. That’s what he lowered.
“I knew it wasn’t,” Fuller said.
The NFL’s new lowering-the-helmet rule has been a hot-button issue since the Bears and Ravens opened the preseason in the Hall of Fame Game.
Players, coaches, fans and media are confused. Even some officials seem confounded.
“It is what it is,” Fuller said. “They’ll get it right.”
There have been correct calls made, but there also have been ones similar to Fuller’s, where the point of contact didn’t begin with the helmet. It’s a complete mess for the NFL.