The preseason is off and running for the Chicago Bears. With Jacksonville up next, what are some things to remember?
Can Joe DeCamillis rally after terrible special teams night?
A blocked field goal. A kick return allowed for a touchdown. A muffed punt. All three of those encompassed the headache Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis endured in the first preseason game. Safe to say that kind of execution is absolutely intolerable for a team with playoff aspirations. DeCamillis clearly has work to do and the Jacksonville game will be the next testing ground for him getting things back on track.
Chris Conte reenters the maelstrom at safety
Having returned to practice for the first time since shoulder surgery on August 10th, former starting free safety Chris Conte finally gets his chance to throw his hat in the ring to reclaim the job. Thus far the entire competition at safety has been a swirling torrent of back and forth battles.
At the strong position, Ryan Mundy recorded an interception in the opener while Adrian Wilson delivered a thunderous highlight reel hit and defended a pass. Rookie 4th round pick Brock Vereen, a favorite to land the free job, made five tackles while unlikely contender Danny McCray started the game made no noticeable mistakes. Conte has three games left to somehow convince the coaches he deserves another shot. It won’t be easy.
Jordan Lynch keeps climbing
Every year, the preseason features a favorite among the Chicago fans. There is no question the man of the hour in that regard is running back Jordan Lynch. A former quarterback from Northern Illinois and a Heisman finalist in 2013, the Bears signed him as an undrafted free agent in hopes of turning him into a capable runner which he flashed constantly in DeKalb for the Huskies.
His first foray came late in the opener when he ran the ball seven times for 24 yards, including a big 12-yarder that picked up a key first down. There is still a long way to go, but if he can show progress against the Jaguars the coaching staff will have to seriously consider him beyond just a practice squad project.
Marc Trestman gets glimpse of the “Seahawks style” in Jaguars defense
To be champions, you have to beat the champions. Chicago will face the Seattle Seahawks in week 3 of the preseason and if they manage to reach the playoffs, likely will see them there as well. So facing a team like Jacksonville is actually a great stroke of luck. Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was defensive coordinator in Seattle back in 2012 and made it his mission to build his team in exactly the same style. That is why many are calling Jacksonville “Seahawks South.”
While the talent levels may be different, Bears head coach Marc Trestman should pay close attention to how the Jaguars operate, especially on defense. Bradley likes to run the same style of scheme they do in Seattle from the physical press coverage to the strong pass rush and athletic linebackers. It will make a great learning experience for Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense as to what they can expect from the best team in football.
Will Zach Miller level off or make more plays?
As preseason debuts go, it doesn’t get much better than what Zach Miller accomplished against Philadelphia. His six catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns showcased lots of potential as a pass catcher, something the Chicago Bears need more of at tight end. Moving forward everyone is anxious to see if Miller can continue to make plays or whether his outburst was a one-and-done deal.
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