Reviewing Titans @ Bears: Let’s talk Offense

| August 15th, 2023

Today we pick up where we left off yesterday as we break down Saturday’s offensive standouts. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Editor’s Note: Check back with this article throughout the day — as I produce more All-22 cutups, I’ll update this article to include more analysis 

Carter Cruises:

  • On a day where Justin Fields didn’t throw an incomplete pass and DJ Moore scored his first touchdown in Chicago, who would’ve guessed that the man wearing #69 would’ve been one of the brightest stars on the offense? Ja’Tyre Carter showed off great footwork in both the run and pass game, great hand usage as a pass-protector, and an extra helping of violence as a combo blocker that led to a few destructive finishes.
    • Nothing dismantles an NFL offense like injuries on the offensive line, so a depth lineman like Carter playing well is the best possible thing that could’ve happened over the weekend. Time will tell if his positive play was a product of legitimate growth as a player (rather than a product of playing the Titans 2nd & 3rd string), but his game against Tennessee was a drastic step up from his late-year showing and that’s exactly what you want to see out of a second-year player.

Wright’s Debut:

  • Darnell Wright’s NFL debut went almost exactly as we expected it would — the Bears avoided drop-back passing with him in the game, so he and the rest of the starters got their feet wet with Play Action, a quick pass, and a healthy dose of running the ball.
    • One rep that stood out to me was how Wright handled his man on the screen TD to Khalil Herbert — it looks like Wright lost the edge initially, but he landed a big right arm across his DE’s body just before he’d turned the corner and used it to yank his man back in front of him.
    • I’ve seen tackles throw that right arm out before, but usually the DE plants his foot and generates a holding call. In Wright’s case, the rookie’s strength stood the DE straight up and gave the referee nothing to complain about. Nice recovery!

Roschon runs the rock:

  • Roschon Johnson kicked off his debut with an absolute firecracker run that featured two hard cuts, 5 broken tackles, and a heck of a first impression. The young RB also displayed natural hands out of the backfield and looked capable (enough) as a blocker despite running behind the 3s for most of the game, so I’ll tip my hat to the rookie as we look forward to more from him. Maybe next week he gets opportunities behind the stronger OL unit?

A whole lot of nothing:

  • The offensive showing was ho-hum overall, especially once the first unit left the field — the starters were so successful that no one player got a chance to showcase progress, and the 2s struggled to move the ball.
    • PJ Walker had a bad day at the office that started with an INT due to ESB’s miscommunication (technically it’s a missed adjustment by Walker) and ended with Tyler Scott’s “rookie moment”, but he’s got enough quality NFL tape under his belt that I wouldn’t worry about a bad preseason showing — not everyone can look like Chase Daniel during Nagy’s tenure. In a regular game with a normal game-planning cycle, Walker will look like he always has.

What are we going to do about Velus Jones Jr?

  • At this point I don’t know if Richard Hightower can justify asking Velus to catch a punt in an NFL game — the Bears spent the offseason telling fans about Jones’ improved ball-tracking on punts, but he looked no different on Saturday than he did on Sundays in 2022.
    • Actually, I take that back — he looked worse, he looked rattled, and after failing to catch the first punt kicked his way he made the unconscionable decision to attempt to field his second punt after a high-arcing bounce that ended in his 3rd career punt muff. Keep in mind, he’s only successfully caught and returned 5 punts in his career so far.
    • At this point, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ Velus will muff a punt in the future, it’s ‘when’. Will Hightower give him the opportunity? We’ll have to wait and find out.
  • Velus’ punt returning woes bury what was otherwise a positive offensive showing for Velus complete with solid blocking, a nice 3rd down hinge route, and a drawn penalty on a slant later in the game. But I get it, and frankly I feel the same way — if Velus can’t catch a punt, what exactly does he do here?

Your Turn: Who or what stood out to you on offense this weekend?

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