The Chicago Bears 41-15 loss to the Buffalo Bills showed their issues go far beyond who will be under center come Week 1. It was a clinic in coaching and execution. The Bears got “dominated” (more on that in a bit) in every facet of the game. A game that Matt Nagy put extra emphasis on wanting to get an extended look at his starting quarterback.
Andy Dalton, who is still on track to be the starter in the opener, completed 11-of-17 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and an interception. It’s a very mediocre stat line that belies how uninspiring his play actually was. In fact, he got most of it on one play.
Play-calling, Execution Among Issues Bigger Than Dalton-Fields for Chicago Bears
Sunday’s biggest losers were easily Nagy and Ryan Pace. No, a preseason game is not a referendum. But Buffalo certainly made former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky look like a serviceable backup and, maybe, even a contender for a starting job elsewhere next season. Meanwhile, their second hand-picked replacement, Dalton, led three three-and-out drives to start the game.
They even ran three plays on the drive stalled by Damien Williams’ fumble.
We all remember how mediocre (to put it kindly) Nick Foles was when he replaced Trubisky last season. Well, Dalton has looked very much the same in this preseason.
That’s big because there were no exhibition games last season. Maybe if there were we wouldn’t have seen Foles so soon. Or maybe Foles wins the battle to begin. The point is things might have unfolded differently.
This time, it’s very clear that Dalton won’t be able to overcome the injury and depth issues affecting this roster.
Nagy’s refusal to adjust his play-calling accordingly is surprising considering how decimated the offensive line is. The Bears first score came on their fourth rushing play and when facing a 28-0 deficit. And Dalton’s inability to cover up for mistakes could lose him the job more than Justin Fields (9/19, 80; 4 carries, 46 yards) may win it.
Rookie defensive coordinator Sean Desai was talked up a lot by local media this week and his defense went out a let him down. Whether it was the result of poor play-calling (the Bears were eaten up by the short game) or execution (missed tackles were an issue), this was by far the worst performance they could put out ahead of the season.
Especially because it came against Trubisky and given how little he was actually asked to do by the Bills who were without Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Emmanuel Sanders.
We mentioned the Bears could have trouble with a Bills pass rush that’s better than what they saw in Week 1. But we didn’t think they’d let Trubisky go off to the tune of four straight touchdown drives to begin the game.
Earlier in the week, Trubisky got media buzzing with comments on being where he was wanted and cared about. After Saturday’s thumping, he said the Bills “dominated field position” and that it definitely felt good doing it against the Bears.
Desai looked visibly bothered on the sidelines as his defense was picked apart much like it was last season under the retired Chuck Pagano.
Allen Robinson, Cole Kmet, David Montgomery, and Darnell Mooney all sat out. James Daniels recently returned to practice and Larry Borom got into Saturday’s game. They’ll help bolster the line with Germain Ifedi (that felt odd to type). And the recently-signed 39-year-old Jason Peters will presumably start at left tackle with second-round rookie Teven Jenkins out indefinitely.
Rodney Adams also looks like he should be on the final 53-man roster.
On defense, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan sat out again, as did Eddie Goldman. We also got a limited dose of Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn.
Still, the Bills were without several of their top guys as well, making much of this a wash.
And none of the returning players will make a difference if they’re not consistently being put in positions to succeed. It’s something supporters of Trubisky claimed he never got and that showed up on the field on Saturday.
Without putting too much stock in the final result, the way the whole game played out was very discouraging from start to finish.
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