Key Storylines In Tonight’s Pre-Season Game Versus Arizona

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In game 2 of the pre-season, the Bears will face a motivated opponent which should provide an excellent test for the team, but their Quarterbacks in particular. After the questions arising from the results of the Bears first preseason game at the quarterback position (where Trubisky clearly outshined Glennon) the Bears could not get a more perfect foe for evaluation purposes. The only thing that could’ve made this better is if it was the third pre-season game where their opponent would actually gameplan for them. The reason for this is that Bruce Arians admittedly said he wanted to run-up the score on the Bears last season in game 2 of the 2016 regular season as he was miffed at not getting the Bears head coaching job over Mark Trestman. So the Bears can expect a lot of blitzes from a team that ordinarily blitzes a ton when games count anyway. Pretty safe to say that Arians would love to see the Bears Quarterbacks getting hit a lot in this one. Especially their shiny new one fresh out of the box.

This pre-season game is reminiscent of one of the Bears 2007 pre-season games when Ron Rivera was the Defensive Coordinator for the San Diego Chargers and blitzed so heavily the Bears pulled their starting quarterback out of fear of him getting hurt. In that game, Rivera was plenty motivated as he was unfairly dismissed as the Bears Defensive Coordinator by then Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith for what appeared to be fear for his job.

This is where I begin in my summary of storylines to watch out for in this game. The Quarterbacks. There is now plenty of pressure on Bears veteran and current starting quarterback Mike Glennon which is a good thing. The Bears get a chance to see how well he responds to it. As for on field pressure, it looks pretty evident there are questions on how well Glennon can perform when being pressured. So far it appears he needs a clean pocket to be effective. Something rarely seen throughout a 60 minute football game. Well, He figures to see plenty of dirty ones in this game.

Mark Sanchez is really a non-factor in this game or any preseason game as we know he has zero shot at winning the starting Quarterback position. So, to Mitchell Trubisky we go. This will be a nice follow-up test for the kid. He now has tape on him. Arians and his defensive staff have prepared to call certain defensive packages to stop some of what they saw of that you can be assured. Although there’ll be no game plan the first thing you can expect to see is a spy to protect against a Quarterback run and a lot of contain to offset those misdirection naked boots the Bears were running in game one. We’ll see if Trubisky can handle league adjustments as well as what Dowell Loggains can do in countering them not to mention the various blitzes and coverage disguises they’ll employ. I see a lot of zone blitzing in this one.

The Running Back competition is another interesting thing to watch. Not only with who makes the roster, but now it’s about who moves up on the depth chart. Not many people expected Tarik Cohen to be anything more than a punt returner who maybe got 5-10 gimmick 3rd down snaps in a game, but he showed in his last pre-season game and in practices throughout camp he can be a legit number two behind Jordan Howard. He along with Ka’Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham will have tons of snaps as both Howard and Jeremy Langford has been listed as out for this game. It’s very disappointing that we won’t get a chance to see Langford in this one, but even more so for Langford as he is in a bit of trouble as far as making this roster.  I do see someone picking him up elsewhere should he get cut, however.

One of my other storyline interests is the play of Hroniss Grasu at center as the starter and Cody Whitehair at Left Guard. If both of them look good today that throws, even more, doubt on the status of Kyle Long’s return as the Bears would likely feel comfortable giving Long a more extended stay on the bench to heal up. It also begs the question of where will Long be inserted once he returns if both players play at a high caliber. Should Bobbie Massie or even Charles Leno Jr. look as weak links would they consider moving Long to either one of the tackle positions? This regime has shown they won’t hesitate to move guys around at a moments notice so the possibility does exist. There is also the possibility they completely shut him down and have him get a head start on the surgery to his shoulder and his rehab on it to get him completely ready for the 2018 season. Doubtful, but possible if that line is clicking.

The Wide Receiver position continues to be a good story to monitor as well. Not just the roster watch, but also the depth chart too. With Markus Wheaton being out this is an opportunity for someone to stand out and take Wheaton’s place on the depth chart. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White are locks to be the starting Flanker (Z) and Split Ends (X) to start the season, but that starting Slot (Y) position is very much obtainable. Kendell Wright and Cruz appear to be the two competing for that spot on the depth chart and possibly the roster as it’s not for sure either make the team. People forget Daniel Braverman who was a draft pick and has looked good in both camps he’s been in when playing. If they do keep a depth piece it figures they’d keep the younger cheaper option on the roster as they would risk losing him if they tried to place him on the practice squad. Braverman will also get a lot of action in tonight’s game.

People forget Daniel Braverman who was a draft pick and has looked good in both camps he’s been in when playing. If they do keep a depth piece it figures they’d keep the younger cheaper option on the roster as they would risk losing him if they tried to place him on the practice squad. Braverman will also get a lot of action in tonight’s game.

There’s also the way both Deonte Thompson and Joshua Bellamy played in the Bears last pre-season game on both offense and special teams. Both have been here for what will be three years so they are well liked by this coaching staff and Ryan Pace and have system familiarity along with leadership qualities. The play of Tanner Gentry, in my opinion, almost makes it a foregone conclusion he’ll make the 53 man roster as the last wide receiver on the depth chart. There is the possibility the Bears risk it and waive him as they pick third on all waiver claims, but at this point, he may just be their best deep threat as well as someone who can get the tough yards underneath.

Lastly, I’ll end with Kyle Fuller. I think there is no chance he replaces Prince Amukamara no matter what happens in this game where he’ll get the start, but if he plays well and looks like a guy worthy of the 14th overall pick in the draft he may have a shot at Marcus Cooper’s job or even inside as the Nickel Cornerback over both Bryce Callahan and Cravon LeBlance. There is also the possibility the league sees it and some cornerback needy team is willing to give up a fairly high draft pick to obtain him. Either way, this start could be an extremely pivotal moment in Fuller’s future career in the NFL.

 

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