Training Camp Diary: Preseason Opens, Fields Electrifies, Now What?

| August 16th, 2021



I have never approached any preseason game with anticipation. That changed Saturday. Here are notes on what could prove to be an important weekend in Chicago Bears history. (Side note: They should knock off one more of these preseason games. Get that schedule to two games, one home and one away.)

The Story is Fields

Penalties and drops around him. Losing track of the play clock. Spin move in the open field, taking unnecessary contact, fumbling the football. It was the definition of a slow start.

But what did Fields say in his post-game presser? “So after that, I think I’m going to officially retire the spin move.” 

None of the struggles bothered him. Fields maintained his composure, displayed his command of the offense and let his athleticism take over the football game. Yes, he was playing with backups. Yes, he was playing against backups. But Fields did what he is supposed to do in that scenario: he was clearly the best player on the field.

  • Two quotes from Adam Hoge’s excellent game story:
    • On the 8-yard touchdown run: “They were playing man coverage. My man Jesse got tripped up. I was looking to go to him,” Fields said. “Of course, I knew my routes were coming my way backside, but I knew they were in man coverage so I knew nobody really had me so I just went to the left.” Does anyone think this kid isn’t ready for regular season action?
    • “Keep stacking days like he had today and understanding that in this whole process and this plan, as we go, what’s the ultimate goal for us as an offense? Scoring touchdowns, right? So keep leading the team down, keep getting first downs, keep getting touchdowns,” Nagy said when asked what Fields needs to do to be named the starter.” This is Nagy leaving the door open for Fields to be the Week One starter. This is the first time he’s done that, to my recollection.

Bears have no choice. Fields should be throwing to Robinson and Mooney today. He’s got to be given a chance to win this job with the folks who will actually be on the roster.

Let’s See More

  • Sam Kamara, out of the football hotbed known as Stony Brook University, looked the part of a professional defensive end late in the game. It’ll be borderline impossible for this kid to find snaps at the team’s deepest position, but the Bears should move him up the preseason ladder to get a better evaluation. (And no matter what, stash him somewhere in the organization for 2021.)
  • Artavis Pierce. This kid has a burst. Have the Bears tried him out at all in the return game? Once again this is a player with a ton of potential at a deep position. He’s a playmaker. Find a role for him.
  • Alec Ogletree next to Roquan Smith. Ogletree was all over the field. Penetrating against the role, fluid in coverage. Yes, he got beat deep, but no linebackers can hang with tight ends deep without pass rush.

Let’s See Less

  • Javon Wims and Riley Ridley. What exactly do we expect these two players to become? At this stage, the Bears are better off seeing what they can squeeze out of guys like Jon’Vea Johnson, Rodney Adams, Chris Lacy, Justin Hardy…etc. Maybe there’s a diamond in that rough. (With ARob, Mooney, Goodwin, Byrd, Dazz, there ain’t a ton of roster space left.)
  • Trevis Gipson. If Gipson is going to be a contributor on Sundays, he can’t be invisible against third stringers on an August Saturday. He just doesn’t look the part.
  • Joel Iyiegbuniwe profiled as a sort of diet Brendon Ayanbadejo – a player who could contribute at linebacker but make his bones on specials. Iggy hasn’t done much of either and he’s entering his fourth season. If it hasn’t happened by now, it’s more than likely not going to happen.

Additional Thoughts

  • Everyone needs to calm down with criticizing coverage units in the first preseason game. Coverage units are comprised, primarily, of the bottom third of the roster and the Bears don’t even know for sure who those guys will be yet.
  • Was that Pat O’Donnell‘s best punting game? He was absolutely sautéing the football.
  • The Bears should keep Brian Johnson as a second kicker. Put him on the practice squad. If another team signs him off, fine. But with the uncertainty around Covid, it can’t hurt having a second kicker available.
  • You know who wasn’t bad Saturday? The offensive line.
  • There was a lot of talk about Jesse James being a contributor this season. (And Fields clearly seems to like him.) If that’s the case, why was he on the field for the game’s final drives with Nick Foles?
  • Duke Shelley has clearly dropped in the cornerback pecking order.
  • DeAndre Houston-Carson is listed as a backup safety but the Bears are crazy if they don’t get him on the field regularly. If you’re ranking this secondary, who is third after EJ and Jaylon Johnson? I think I put DHC in that spot and I’d love to see out there in the slot.
  • There is no reason for David Montgomery to see another snap this preseason. Backs don’t need reps. They need rest. They only have so many carries in their bodies and Montgomery’s style will mean he has fewer than most. His next month should be contact free.

Camp practices reopen to the public, today through Wednesday.

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