Five takeaways from the Bears’ 27-20 preseason victory against the Chiefs
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
There was more to the Bears’ 27-20 victory Saturday against the Chiefs at Soldier Field than coach Matt Nagy’s bold decision to sit quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the majority of his starters. Here are five takeaways from the Bears’ fourth preseason game:
Several Bears said Nagy’s decision to sit his starters was surprising. Some even struggled to articulate what it meant, preferring to call it a ‘‘coach’s decision.’’ But veteran running back Benny Cunningham loved it.
‘‘I was excited, honestly, when I found I would get the opportunity to compete against the ones,’’ Cunningham said. ‘‘You always want a challenge like that to kind of show what you can do as a backup.’’
The meaningless game became more meaningful for the players who need the preseason games to earn their jobs. Again, Cunningham would know. The Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State in 2013.
‘‘I came in, like, seventh on the depth chart; [the] preseason was everything,’’ said Cunningham, who scored on a 13-yard run in the first quarter. ‘‘I probably wouldn’t be standing here talking to you guys if it wasn’t for the preseason. So you’ve got to take pride in it. For the guys who have that established spot, they have an opportunity to come out here, tune things up and get ready for the regular season.’’
Nagy didn’t think one more tuneup was worth the risk of injuries.
‘‘I feel like the coaches do a good job of getting those guys ready during practice, going through every look you can think about, a crazy amount of reps,’’ said Cunningham, one of the Bears’ best special-teams players. ‘‘They get a chance to see everything.
‘‘Anytime you can keep Tarik [Cohen], Jordan [Howard] and guys like that healthy and go into Week 1 knowing that you have those guys, it’s always a plus.’’
Nick vs. Pat
Chiefs starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes was on the field for 42 plays, and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski stared him down for 37 of them.
Kwiatkoski and linemen Jonathan Bullard (27 snaps) and Roy Robertson-Harris (25) were the only defensive regulars to face the Chiefs’ first-team offense.
Mahomes’ final stats were impressive -— 18-for-24 for 196 yards, a touchdown and a 112.5 passer rating — but that production was deceiving.
If Mahomes hadn’t picked apart a starting secondary that featured safeties Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall and cornerbacks Kevin Toliver and Doran Grant, it would have been alarming.
Mahomes had three Pro Bowl players at his disposal against the Bears: running back Kareem Hunt, tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill.
Bush is the only safe bet to be on the Bears’ initial 53-man roster. Toliver, an undrafted rookie, would be an ideal addition for the practice squad. Hall is suspended for Week 1, but he already was on the roster bubble.
The Chiefs’ starters produced only 10 points in the first half against the Bears’ top reserves. Plus, Mahomes’ 10-yard touchdown pass to Hunt was the result of a busted coverage.
‘‘That’s a good offense, and they have a lot of weapons,’’ Kwiatkoski said. ‘‘It is the preseason, but . . . going out there and being able to play like that, it’s something where we’re able to watch film and can build on [it]. We did a lot of good things, and I’m sure there’s things we didn’t do well.’’
Seeing Soldier Field
With receivers Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller not playing, it was surprising to see Taylor Gabriel start and play against the Chiefs.
But Gabriel wanted to, and it didn’t have much to do with him missing considerable time — including the Bears’ two practices and their preseason game against the Broncos — because of a foot injury.
‘‘I wanted to get in just so I can see the ball, the difference of the ball in the stands, so I can get adjusted to Soldier Field,’’ Gabriel said.
That included warmups with Trubisky. Gabriel made one catch for 10 yards and was on the field for only four snaps.
‘‘I’m glad I got out there,’’ he said afterward.
Proving his worth
Rookie Javon Wims leads all Bears receivers with 15 catches for 227 yards in the preseason. So what does Wims think he has shown?
‘‘I’m more than just a jump-ball guy,’’ he said.
It’s apparent certain criticisms have stuck with Wims. He’s a prototypical chip-on-his-shoulder guy. He was Georgia’s leading receiver last season but still was drafted in the seventh round.
‘‘I’ve always had an edge since I didn’t have any offers coming out of high school,’’ Wims said. ‘‘From there, always being counted against, I just use that as fuel for the fire.’’
Wims’ 54-yard catch and seven-yard touchdown Saturday came against cornerback David Amerson, a second-round pick of the Redskins in 2013.
‘‘Every opportunity, whether it’s blocking or whether it’s on special teams, I’m just trying to make a play,’’ Wims said. ‘‘I’m trying to go out there, go 110 [percent] and try to make a play.’’
Fitts finally strikes
Rookie outside linebacker Kylie Fitts’ sack of rookie Chase Litton was an example of his high motor.
Fitts, a sixth-round pick, used a rip move to get underneath the block of right tackle Parker Ehinger, flushed Litton from the pocket, then chased him down at the line of scrimmage.
But it also was Fitts’ best play in weeks. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t have a pressure against the Broncos or Chiefs.
‘‘I was kind of fighting through a couple of shoulder injuries that weren’t allowing me to be as physical as I wanted to,’’ Fitts said. ‘‘But now I’m healthy, feeling good, and I felt like I showed it.’’