First, I would like to disclose taking too much out of a preseason performance is the equivalent of fool’s gold. That said, there are some legitimate concerns following this performance last night. With injuries always being at the top of reasons for the possible derailing of a football teams season depth is always a major area of concern. It can be the difference in overcoming the attrition of injury all teams go through during a season. At some point players will get hurt and be unavailable to play and even more commonly force players to play through bumps and bruises at less than one hundred percent. Thus, the need for backups to at the very least sustain an acceptable level of performance to not be an obvious weakness to their position group. Three position groups of this teams offense have jumped up as areas of concern.
Offensive Tackle: Aside from a very poor performance at tackle overall last night there is now an injury to be concerned with. Primary Tackle backup Rashaad Coward sustained an elbow injury in pass pro. The severity of the injury has yet to be reported by the team but he was in noticable pain and discomfort when exiting the game. It’s pretty obvious he will be shelved for a good portion of time. The only question appears to be whether it will bleed into the regular season and for how long.
Now for the performance of the Tackles. Cornelius Lucas had a rough performance. He was consistently beaten inside on counters and looked very unathletic out there. He also had 2 holding calls which is never a good thing. At this point I would have to assume he will not make this roster. Whether the Bears see enough potential in him to add to the practice squad to develop remains to be seen, but it’s clear for all to see he is not ready to see any regular season action.
When Joe Lowery came in to sub for Coward there was a noticeable dropoff from Coward but not nearly as bad as Lucas’. I think he has a chance to make an impression in this 2 week stretch to make the practice squad but I do not see NFL backup. It’s looking more and more like the Bears are going to be picking up a veteran Offensive Lineman off of waiver cut time to stabilize the swing tackle spot.
Some believe Alex Bars can play Tackle in a pinch and we know Cody Whitehair can from his college days but you do not want an experiment at an important spot nor do you want to move a starter and replace him with a backup from a position of strength if you can avoid it. Now, rather than replacing one position with a backup you’re replacing two on the line at a position group that relies heavily on continuity.
Quarterback: We all know the main reason the Bears are paying Chase Daniel $6 million to backup Mitch Trubisky. It isn’t for his playing ability. It’s for him to mentor and act as a second pair of eyes as a defacto player coach for Trubisky. However, to watch the game last night and not be fearful of what might happen if Trubisky gets hurt would be foolish. It was clear Daniel had no interest in standing in the pocket in the face of pressure. You hope it’s just self preservation looking towards the regular but in last season’s start against this same Giants team Daniel looked equally as skiddish.
Tyler Bray, also here as a mentor to Trubisky, is noticeably bad. He has not at any point distinguished himself in any way as being a game ready replacement. He has consistently thrown the ball inaccurately especially downfield and offers no athleticism to the position to make plays with his legs. It’s looking like he won’t even make the practice squad at this point. Pray to the football Gods Trubisky stays healthy for a full 16 games and beyond. It’s pretty obvious this team will have to address the backup spot next season.
Tight End: This is more of a concern with the Bradley Sowell experiment and the injury concerns to both Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen. At this point Ian Bunting has shown in camp and the last preseason game he is a viable target in the passing game but questions still are there with his blocking particularly in pass pro. He was used exclusively as a blocker last night and was not noticeable which is usually a good sign as a blocker.
Ellis Richardson has distinguished himself as a pass catcher in camp practices but has yet to flash in a preseason game. He may be headed to the practice squad as a developmental project but in no way impacts this team for the 2019 season. Not early on anyway. Who knows what will happen as injuries occur and he develops if he makes the practice squad.
Sowell had his ass handed to him as a blocker on two plays which is his only shot at making the team. Not really confident he’s the lock many believe him to be because of his position switch. Think it was more ultimatum than willingness to switch from OL to TE. As with the other positions mentioned you just hold your breath that Shaheen and Burton stay healthy and take plenty of snaps as the U and Y Tight Ends for this team in 2019.