Written by: John Stocco
Listen, I totally understand where everyone is coming from. I would love to see Mitch Trubisky and Khalil Mack playing right now, but you want to know what I wouldn’t love? Seeing them get carted off with an injury. Does that seem a little dramatic? Maybe, but is it impossible? Not even close. We’ve seen Chargers safety Derwin James go down with a foot injury and Jets linebacker Avery Williamson suffer a season ending torn ACL, injuries that cripple their respective defenses. I know one thing’s for sure- I don’t want the Bears anywhere near that position. Matt Nagy is playing it safe, as he should, and now we have players to keep an eye on deep into the depth chart.
Time to face it. When your team is really good, like the Chicago Bears, then the preseason is kinda boring, especially for superstars like Trubisky, Allen Robinson, Khalil Mack and Kyle Fuller, who are sitting on the sidelines while the depth gets all the playing time. When you’re cheering for a bad team, like the Detroit Lions, then the preseason is pretty fun. You’re getting a good look at the future, and depth players that are going to matter during the season. With the stars out for the Bears, there are players that have little to no experience playing all four quarters, getting their reps, and getting in game shape. Every game is going to matter for the Bears, and if a starter goes down, they’ll need their depth to step up, fill in, and keep up at an elite pace. On the offensive side of the ball, an injury to one offensive linemen can hurt the entire unit. This preseason the Bears are giving valuable reps to Alex Bars, an undrafted guard out of Notre Dame, and Rashaad Coward, the one time defensive linemen who moved to offensive tackle. Chicago has a solid group up front, but Kyle Long has had an injury-prone career, and if he happens to go down again, the Bears will look to their bench.
Even if it’s preseason football, experience, is the one trait that’s crucial to someone like Alex Bars. Let’s go to the defense and take a look at the linebacker and cornerback positions. Joel Iyiebuniwe, Josh Woods, and Nick Kwiatkowski have been battling for second-string behind Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan, while John Franklin III, Clifton Duck, and Kevin Toliver are fighting for spots behind Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. Danny Trevathan is entering the last year of his contract, and Prince Amukamara is a free agent in 2021. The Bears aren’t the most flexible when it comes to finances, especially with the hopeful contract extension for Mitch Trubisky on the horizon. Sooner or later, the Bears need to look at their depth on defense. Josh Woods and Clifton Duck have played well this preseason. He’s making plays, playing fast, and covering the field. Kwiatkowski and John Franklin, on the other hand, have been disappointments. Blown coverages, playing slow, and not playing well on special teams are locations where the Bears desperately need to be better, and gaining experience is what the preseason is all about.
We hear time and time again from coaches and players: NFL players don’t need four preseason games. Carson Wentz said it a few weeks back. NFL players need two games to get ready, but four is a bit excessive. Last year was different. New players, new coaches, and a new system. Playing the starters last year was necessary in my opinion, and even then Coach Matt Nagy felt like it wasn’t needed. Let the Bears lose every preseason game every year. As long as the stars stay healthy, and the young depth gains experience, the Bears ultimately win in the end.