That time again. Our Bears wing breaks down whatever they thought was important, and wasn’t, from the Bears’ trip to New Jersey.
What did we learn in the second preseason game?
Tony Martin: Marvin Hall does not make this team, unfortunately. If Kerrith Whyte Jr can provide 4 phase special teams play, Hall is toast since Whyte can return kicks if Patterson can’t and will have more use in the offense. I was pumped to see what Marvin Hall could bring to the team, but he’s really just mini Taylor Gabriel and with how low-accuracy Trubisky has been on his deep throws, we don’t need two pure burners on the 53.
-James Vaughters looked good, and the backup LB competition is going to be the most fun story these last few weeks of preseason.
-Do the Bears have any serviceable tight ends behind Burton? Is Burton even going to be healthy this year?
-Kyle Long is making me nervous.
Wes French: Matt Nagy is making himself the story, and it might be that he’d stupid like a fox…or John Fox is going to be super excited to rip him when this blows up in his face.
The head coach’s decision to keep his first unit out of the preseason almost completely is the new narrative for me. Teams have come to treat preseason about the same all around the league for years in the four game format, with starters playing maybe 1-2 series in game one, a quarter or so in game two, a full half+ in the game three “dress rehearsal” and then not at all in the final game. Recent years have seen more discussion about the length of preseason, if it’s necessary, if the risk of injury is worth it as men work to get up to game speed.
To my knowledge, Nagy and Ryan Pace are the first HC/GM to use the padded practices (also becoming increasingly restricted) mainly on the first units and leave the preseason games to focus on the deeper aspects of the roster. There won’t be any way to tell what effect it has on those units until the season opens for real, but I have to admit I’m a fan of the process so far. More reps against tougher competition for the guys fighting for roles and roster spots will give Nagy and Pace that much more to work with when final cuts come at the end of the month.
Maybe we’ll get the first teams for a few snaps in the penultimate game, but I say they should just lean into this exercise fully and let anyone currently “on the bubble” start next week. I want to see if Kerrith Whyte can do more than 10 yards on six carries or James Vaughters can repeat that electric performance against a very good Colts offensive line.
Oh, and just toss Carolina a conditional pick for Joey Slye already. Fry missed his lone FG attempt, Pineiro was 2/2, but it just doesn’t feel like they believe in him. Slye is now 5/5 with two of those from over 54 yards, one of which came at Soldier Field.
Tony: I like Nagy’s approach, not gonna lie. Keep the starters out of the preseason. Might it affect how quickly they start executing when the season begins? Possibly, but I would gladly trade a slow start in week one for the ensured total health of the starters for this team.
…Aaaaaaaand Fry got waived. Hello Canada!
Wes: Good for him. What’re your thoughts on trading for Slye? I know they already did that for Pineiro but teams don’t just discard kickers anymore when they’ve got one. I think if there was someone worth signing off the street they’d already be here.
Brian Schmitz: I am a firm believer that whatever the patriots do is the right thing to do, so in this case, I’m with Wes in thinking that the starters need to get a little burn in the preseason so the live bullets aren’t completely foreign to them when they line up against the pack in less than 3 weeks.
Pat O’Donnell has had a great preseason thus far. This is important because of the subpar season Pat-O had last year. Punting is a position that is as much about confidence as it is about talent, so for a guy who may have some doubt in his mind coming it to this season, coming out and averaging over 50 per pop is a huge relief for a team that is not very good on special teams at this point.
Sidenote: John Franklin had one of true great pass break ups these eyes have ever seen…just sayin.
Tony: People like Slye a lot, and I can see why. Screw it, bring him in. Can’t hurt.