Bears Preseason: Week 2 Notes

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
  • Bears RBs were much better this week. The offensive line deserves a portion of the credit of course, but the Bears running backs did a good job finding rushing lanes and running through arm tackles. It was a massive improvement over week one’s performance when the backs as a whole averaged less than three yards per carry.
    • The highlight of Jeremy Langford‘s day was a 35-yard run, but he also had an impressive 5-yard TD that included a sharp cutback. Langford showed off an explosive burst of speed on his long-run, good vision on his TD, and ran through contact more often than I’d seen from him in his short career.
    • Jordan Howard got a chance to play significant snaps with Carey out on Thursday (concussion protocol) and he made the most of them with 46 yards on 11 carries. Howard flashed the power that made him so successful in the Big10, consistently driving through contact for extra yards. It looked like Howard might be buried on the depth chart after week one, but he proved that he deserves to be in the RB mix when given a chance this week.
    • Where was Ka’Deem Carey? The concussion protocol is no joke and Carey is apparently still stuck in it. Hopefully he will get a chance next week to earn a spot on the roster after a strong training camp.
  • Last year’s ILBs are making a strong push for roster spots. John Timu, Jonathan Anderson, Lamin Barrow, and Christian Jones were all over the field in the 2nd half. They combined for 20 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 pass defense, and a bunch of stops near the line of scrimmage.
    • John Timu dropped an easy interception in the Pats red zone that may have been a pick-6 had he caught it, but besides missing a chance for a turnover Timu had a strong game. Like when he got a chance to play last season, Timu was among the Bears leading tacklers with six stops (Freeman led the team with nine). He attacked the ball aggressively and half of his tackles were within a few yards of the line of scrimmage. Timu is a natural run-stopper, who makes up for a lack of speed with good instincts in zone coverage.
    • Jonathan Anderson hasn’t been discussed much after the additions of Trevathan, Freeman, and Kwiatkoski at ILB, but he has made enough plays so far in the preseason to get back on the radar. He tied Timu for 2nd on the team with six tackles against the Pats, had a nice hit at the line of scrimmage on 2nd & goal, and made a solid open field tackle on a screen play. Anderson also has the size (6’3, 235) and speed (4.44) to be a force on special teams.
    • Lamin Barrow is a bit of an unknown as he wasn’t a Bears draft pick, but he was drafted by the Broncos in the fifth round in 2014. He played in all 16 games as a rookie under John Fox in Denver and the Bears moved quickly to sign Barrow when the Broncos tried to move him to the practice squad last year. He’s got just as much of a chance to make the roster as the more well known Timu and Anderson, if not better. Barrow is already a solid special teams player and combines Timu’s run stopping ability with coverage ability and speed (4.64) close to Anderson’s. He was only credited with three tackles against the Pats but was involved with twice that number at least and also played well in week one.
    • Christian Jones seems like a forgotten man after his failed stint as an ILB last season, but he’s looked like a natural at OLB so far. He played well in week one, but stepped up his game this week with 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 QB hits. Jones has the size (6’3, 251), speed (4.68), and athleticism to be a force off the edge. If he keeps playing like he did against the Pats, Jones will force his way onto the 53-man roster and possibly earn some snaps in the OLB rotation.
  • OLB Sam Acho was an effective pass rusher against the Patriots. The combination of Acho, Leonard Floyd, and Christian Jones were the Bers most effective pass rush group in week two with 2.5 sacks and double-digit pressures. Acho had one sack (credited for .5) and another wiped out by a defensive holding penalty (HJQ). He was in the backfield constantly and made the most of his limited snaps this week.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
  • QB Connor Shaw & WR BJ Daniels put on a nice show on the Bears last drive of the game. Conner Shaw finished with just 42 yards passing (13 rushing) but led an 88-yard scoring drive on the last possession of the game.
    • WR B,J. Daniels has only been on the team for a few weeks, but made a solid impression on the last drive of the game with two catches for 34 yards. He made the most of his catches with one for 12-yards on 4th & eight and the other for a 22-yard touchdown on the last play of regulation. Daniels is a long-shot to make the team, but if the rest of the backup WRs keep disappointing… who knows. The former college QB is relatively new at the WR position, but has plenty of upside.
  • The rest of my game notes:
    • DT Wil Sutton beat two blocks to stuff LeGarrette Blount in the backfield on third and short in the first half. It was one of the most impressive plays any Bears d-linemen made, but Sutton also missed a tackle near the line of scrimmage later in the game that resulted in a 17-yard run. He’s outplayed fellow 2014 draft pick Ego Ferguson so far and they are most likely competing for one roster spot.
    • DE Cornelius Washington was one of the best players on the field for the Bears defense in week one, but was held out of week two’s game with a leg injury. He’s expected to be back for week three and has a legitimate shot to earn snaps in the d-line rotation if he keeps up his strong play and stays healthy.
    • DE Keith Browner, the 2nd year player out of California, is a bit of an unknown but has made a positive impression during training camp. Browner made an impressive stop in the backfield late in the game and had two tackles total. Browner has the size (6’4, 294) to play DE or DT and could push Sutton/Ferguson for one of the last d-line spots if he continues to play well. Worst case, Browner should stick around on the practice squad.
    • Recently signed CB Joel Ross struggled for the 2nd week in a row. He was burned badly twice that I saw and despite his intriguing speed (4.40), Ross hasn’t played well enough to stick around much longer. The Bears are really thin at the corner position, but Ross doesn’t look like the answer.
    • DT Terry “The Swamp Monster” Williams was only credited with one tackle, but was disruptive inside and showed a quick burst off the ball. Williams has his weight down to 319 (from 350+ last year) and he was noticeably more explosive with better stamina than last preseason.