A lot of people, including myself, wrote off the Bears in the opener. The defending NFC champions,Atlanta Falcons,were in town and a tough matchup for Mike Glennon and company. The Bears surprised all the doubters on Sunday with an impressive showing at Soldier Field despite the 23-17 loss.
Bears fans knew the game plan from the start : the Bears were going to pound the football. Jordan Howard finished the day with 13 carries for 52 yards, averaged 4.0 yards a carry, and one touchdown. However, an even bigger story out of the backfield was rookie RB Tarik Cohen rushed for 66 yards on just 5 carries. Cohen also added 47 receiving yards and one touchdown. It was a very impressive game for the rookie out of North Carolina A&T and he should be very entertaining to watch the rest of the season.
The limitation of Glennon’s athleticism, leaves Dowell Loggains with a much more limited play sheet than in prior years. Glennon is not as effective on rolling out and delivering a strike like Mitch Trubisky as showcased in the preseason. Its important to note that even with that phase taken out of the offense, I thought Glennon managed the offense well and made the right throws. One of the biggest takeaways from his performance on Sunday had to be that he threw for no interceptions and did not cough up the football during the game.
The Bears went three and out in two of their first three drives. An illegal hands to the face call on center Cody Whitehair pushed the Bears back on their opening drive and a 12 yard sack on first down early in the second quarter stalled the Bears offense in the beginning of the first half. The Bears finished off the first half with a suburb seven play 75 yard touchdown drive. Cohen’s 46 yard run set the Bears up on the Atlanta 26 with 3:02 left in the first half. The Bears would line up in the wildcat, and Howard took it to the outside for a four yard touchdown run. It was 10-10 at halftime, a score not many thought would be the case.
The third quarter only had three points, a 28 yard field goal by Matt Bryant. The Falcons put together a 13 play, 76 yard drive that took 6:29 off the clock, but the Bears defense came up big throughout and held the Falcon to three points.
The Bears failed to make any noise on their next drive, punting after just seven plays for 32 yards. Then a defensive breakdown led to a 88 yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Austin Hooper, giving Bears fans flashbacks of last season and took the life out of Solider Field.
The Bears had to respond and they did with a 75 yard drive ending in a touchdown pass to Cohen pulling the Bears within a field goal and a possible win.
A Falcons field goal made it a six point game with 3:24 left in the game. It was up to Glennon to lead the troops to victory, but the offense came up short. Their best shot of scoring came in the end zone, and a short pass to Howard was right on target but the second year running back looked up-field before securing the catch. On the last play, Falcons edge rusher Brooks Reed beat right tackle Bobbie Massie to sack Glennon to secure the win.
The Bears, are already down three starters (Kyle Long, Markus Wheaton, and Prince Amukarmara) and may have lost two more for next week. Wide receiver Kevin White left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. After the game, reports surfaced that the Bears fear the third year WR has a broken collarbone and would result in season-ending surgery. Linebacker Jerell Freeman was not available to the media after the game because he was in concussion protocol. Nick Kwiatkoski would be lined up to start next to Danny Trevathan next week vs. Tampa Bay.
Injuries are apart of the game, but the Bears cannot afford to come out of games with starters going down with injuries in week 1. Fans saw what happened last year, their team fell apart. In order to have more that three wins this year, the Bears need a healthy squad.
The Bears defense played pretty well on Sunday given the offense they were competing against. Julio Jones was limited to just four catches for 66 yards and Devonta Freeman rushed for just 37 yards. Hooper hurt the Bears on two longs receptions, but outside of Hooper, the Bears were able to contain the Falcons playmakers. New cornerback Marcus Cooper tried to make a play against Matt Ryan, but fell short on a crucial play that may have cost the Bears the game.
Bears fans will be watching the reports over the next few days as they wait to see how the health of the team looks going into week 2. Fans will also be waiting to see how the Bears takes today’s lessons to the field next week against Tampa Bay.
Leonard Floyd, Willie Young, and Sam combined for no sacks and no QB hits on Sunday. I leave out Pernell McPhee because he saw limited action as the Bears are still easing him back after missing all of training camp and the preseason.
The fact that the Bears had no hits on Ryan was appalling to say the least. The Falcons offensive line played well but Floyd and Young have to get home to the QB. Ryan had plenty of time all day to throw, unless Hicks was in his face. It’s just the opening game, but the Bears pass-rushers have an obligation to make an impact every game. Having Pernell McPhee off limited playing time will help the rotation in keeping guys fresh, but the Bears outside linebackers hve to get it done without him and they came up short against Atlanta.
At the final whistle one things rings true : the Bears competed. Myself and many others thought the Bears would not matchup well against the Falcons, especially trying to stop their high-powering offense. With the exception of a few big plays, the Bears were able to move the football and come up with some big stops throughout the game.
After his impressive preseason, you have to wonder if the Bears offense would have been more efficient if Trubisky were at quarterback. I think that will be the thought in the back of fans minds until we actually see number 10 in action. Right now, fans have to rally around Glennon. He managed the offense and put the Bears in a position to win. I say it was a solid start for someone who has not started since 2014 and has really not played in two years. The offense may be limited, but as long as the Bears can run the ball efficiently, play to Glennon’s abilities, and create turnovers, they can stay in games this season, even versus the best of the best.
The Bears will hit the road week two, traveling to Tampa Bay to take on Jameis Winston’s talented offense. The defense will have their hands full with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson at wide receiver. As for the Bears offense, the offensive line will have their hands full with All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive ends Robert Ayers and Noah Spence. For more on the Buccaners-Bears matchup, make sure to check out my game preview later in the week.