By: Thomas Gibbons
Matt Nagy earned his first win as Bears head coach Saturday night in Mile High. There were a lot of good things, some bad things, and plenty of depth questions arose. So let’s get into it.
Leonard Floyd and Adam Shaheen suffered injuries Saturday night. Shaheen left with an ankle injury and Floyd exited after suffering a right hand injury. Both will be evaluated on Sunday.
The Bears cannot afford to lose guys to injury, especially there best pass rusher in Floyd and Shaheen who is expected to have a defined role in Nagy’s offense. Without Floyd, the Bears group of pass rushers is not pretty. And the Bears are already down a tight end with Dion Sims still recovering from a concussion. The Bears host the Chiefs on Saturday at Soldier Field for what will be a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Nagy didn’t think either players suffered fractures when he met the media after the game but we will know more Monday at Halas.
Cody Whitehair used a new snapping technique Saturday night and there were no issues with the snaps. Mitch Trubisky blamed himself on the drop snap that led to a safety in the first quarter. It was right in his hands and not on Whitehair.
The new snap technique is called the dead snap where he holds the nose of the ball and flips it back. Brad Biggs had a well-written column in the Chicago Tribune about Whitehair and discussing the possible switch to James Daniels at center.
The snap problems continued last week in joint practices with the Broncos. There has been a lot of talk of moving Whitehair to guard and rookie Daniels to center. The Bears said from day 1 they wanted to groom Daniels as a guard but he has gotten a lot of work at center. I think the Bears best offensive line would be with Daniels at center and moving Whitehair back to his natural position at guard.
Staying on the subject of the offensive line, Rashaad Coward looked pretty good again at right tackle. The Bears changed him from a defensive tackle to offensive tackle this offseason. And it could not have come at a better time because Nagy hired one of the best offensive line coaches in Harry Hiestand.
Coward has developed well through camp and getting live reps in preseason. While he is still far off from starting in a regular season game, I think his roster spot is guaranteed. The Bears need to develop linemen because their depth is not that strong. I fully expect Ryan Pace to be active come roster cutdown day to maybe add a swing tackle. It would be the perfect scenario if they found another Josh Sitton type guy who could be a day 1 starter. Current RT Bobbie Massie has had his share of ups and downs and if the Bears can upgrade that position there should be no hesitation.
Current O-line depth chart: LT-Charles Leno Jr., Bradley Sowell, Matt McCants/LG- Eric Kush, James Daniels, Jordan Morgan/C- Cody Whitehair, Hroniss Grasu, James Daniels/RG- Kyle Long, Earl Watford, Will Pericak, Dejon Allen/RT- Bobbie Massie, Rashaad Coward, Brandon Greene
The starting group has plenty of upside but if someone goes down, there will be some worry. I definitely think the Bears need to find a swing tackle because Sowell is not good. I do not think the Bears will keep Grasu especially if Daniels has shown them enough at center. So a spot opens up to add a tackle and the Bears have plenty of cap space to spend some money.
Mitch Trubisky played four series and went 9/14 for 90 with 1 TD and 1 INT. Outside of the bobbled snap and an interception on his final drive, the second year quarterback looked solid. He connected with Trey Burton four times, one for a TD, and one really good throw to rookie Anthony Miller on the drive leading to the Burton TD.
We saw a bit more of Nagy’s offense in Mile High. Zone, jet motion, RPO’s and plenty of window dressing. Everyone is very excited to see the offense in full force week one and we will get our best look Saturday at Soldier Field.
I am not worried about Prince Amukamara’s health (groin), and if he were to miss time, the Bears have enough depth to still be an effective secondary. Bryce Callahan got some reps last night with the 1’s with Cre’Von LeBlanc at the nickel corner. Both players can do both and be effective.
It would be the best move for the Bears to promote within rather than sign someone off the street. The need for depth is one reason why the Bears will probably keep Deiondre’ Hall because he can play both cornerback and safety.
All signs point to Amukamara making a full recovery and being ready to roll Week one in Green Bay. Him and Fuller can be a lockdown duo and expectations will be high after receiving new deals this offseason.
Roy Robertson-Harris is becoming a building block on the defensive line. He was credited with 1.5 sacks last night and is set to get a lot of playing time this season.
Akiem Hicks, Jonathan Bullard, Roberston-Harris, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nicholas, and Jon Jenkins have tremendous potential as a group. The Bears front seven is going to be a special group with the depth they have and knowledge with the scheme. And now with Roquan Smith in the fold, the Bears can launch themselves into the conversation of one of the best defense’s in the league.
Allen Robinson will have to wait another week for his first catch of his Bears career. He played two series and saw no targets. But being out there and getting some run is great for him physically and mentally.
Stay with WCC this week with more posts from Thomas Gibbons and Johnny Hatelak.