Chicago Bears Preseason Game #1: Stock Watch Defense
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears beat the Miami Dolphins 27-10 in their first preseason game on Thursday night. Preseason games are the crucible for the bottom third of the roster and the performance of players in live preseason action plays a big part in determining who makes the final 53-man roster. The Bears 2nd and 3rd team players were the driving force behind the Bears win as they dominated the Dolphins 24-0 in 2nd half. The reserves made it tough on the turk with plenty of players making a case for a roster spot.
I’ve listed the defensive players below who either helped or hurt their chance to make the team Thursday night. I’ve already posted my offensive player stock watch.
Chicago Bears Preseason: Stock Watch
DE Ego Ferguson – He was drafted as a DT in a 4-3 scheme but now is being asked to transition to a 3-4 DE. Ferguson struggled at his natural position as a rookie which made me think the position change would stall his development a bit, but Ego had a solid first game as a DE. He had three nice stops against the run, holding his ground and disengaging in time to make the tackle. Ferguson showed more competence and ability at the DE position than I expected and I feel better about the Bears DE depth than I did before their first preseason game.
DE Will Sutton – Like Ferguson, Sutton was drafted to play DT in a 4-3 and was considered the odd man out in the transition to a 3-4 scheme. I’ve always been a fan of Sutton after seeing him play live at Arizona St for a couple years but even I was doubtful about his usefulness in a 3-4 scheme. Instead Sutton stood out more than any other D-lineman and made a statement that he may be able to excel at the position. Sutton had three tackles in the run game and also generated some interior pressure on a draw play and showed good athleticism chasing QB Matt Moore to the sideline on a scramble. I was surprised that the Bears didn’t chase more free agents at DE in the offseason, but after seeing how well Sutton, Ferguson, and Washington played it makes more sense. If Sutton keeps playing like he did on Thursday, then he will have a roster spot locked up.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
DE Cornelius Washington – Like the players listed above him, Washington isn’t an ideal fit for a 3-4 but made enough plays on Thursday to stay firmly in the mix at DE. I thought he would be a better fit at OLB, but the previous regime had Washington gain weight and he used it to make an impact in game one of the preseason. Pro Football Focus graded Washington as the best player on the Bears defense (+2.5 grade) vs the Dolphins but didn’t credit all of his impact. I had Washington down for four QB pressures total, a tackle for loss, and a stop near the line of scrimmage.
ILB Christian Jones – The highlight of Jones’ night was stuffing a goal-line run on 3rd down after shedding a blocker and driving the RB back. He also showed good range chasing down Lamar Miller on an outside run. Jones is solid right now, but has the talent to develop into a stud ILB in Fangio’s scheme.