Repeat after me, everyone. It's only preseason.
It's only preseason.
Now you can begin panicking, because everything about this game was bad from the word go. With a few exceptions. But going into the half of the first preseason game down 20-0 after a Mark Sanchez touchdown pass, two Brandon McManus field goals and a blocked Pat "Donnelly" O'Donnell punt returned for a touchdown is not exactly how you'd draw it up if you were starting out the season.
No greater note could encapsulate the futility of the first half than this: The Bears allowed five sacks of Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer in the first half compared to four first downs.
The Bears allowed more sacks than they picked up first downs. That's not good. Thought you'd like to know.
Quite frankly, there weren't very many things about this game to make a Bears fan feel good, unless you saw solidarity with a certain canine during the halftime show. But let's get into some of those things.
- Starting off, I think I'm okay with Deiondre' Hall. Hall had himself a pretty nice game, deflecting a few balls, which is impressive since he can apparently see with the back of his head. Then again, for a side of the ball that couldn't find the ball if you gave them a metal detector and a search party last year, any little step forward helps.
- Leonard Floyd will probably be okay. He showed a lot of really good burst and speed, but he can also get up the field. Unlike a couple of speed-first tweeners the Bears have had, Floyd showed a bit of ability to not be lateral and get into the pocket a little. Yes, it's preseason, but it didn't appear as if his weight was much of an issue when he was in.
- Leave it to a member of last year's secondary to have a "WTF" moment followed by a "Hey guy you're all right" moment, as Bryce Callahan forgot to cover Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown then got his hand on a ball to deflect an interception into Jerrell Freeman's hands. Deon Bush had a moment or two of not bad either.
- All in all the front seven was pretty good against a pretty decent offensive unit in Denver, Mark Sanchez notwithstanding. Not sure why Mark Sanchez of all people gave the Bears' defense brief fits, but the front seven was in his back pocket for a fair amount of the time he was in and just couldn't finish the job. Akiem Hicks is an impressive man.
- Trevor Siemien and Paxton Lynch can both play a bit. Not sure how long Sanchez is for the starting role, but they might be okay as long as any of them can play better than Peyton Manning's decrepit final year.
- Cornelius Washington had a pretty nice game in his make or break preseason. He could make the bottom of the linebacker chart conversation very interesting if he keeps this up, though leaving a couple times with injury probably had his Bears career flashing before his eyes.
- I almost feel like Brian Hoyer is Jason Campbell 2.0, but the other options later in the night didn't exactly offer a lot of confidence (David Fales and Connor Shaw). And Daniel Braverman and Ka'Deem Carey should find themselves the recipients of a nice steak dinner for saving a really ill-advised throw. On the interception, I think he might've been trying to lead Deonte Thompson a bit down the field, but missed the wide open receiver pretty badly either way.
- The offensive line really will feel it if Cody Whitehair has to see much time at center this year. Whitehair looks like he can play at guard, but his shotgun snaps were all over the place at center. Charles Leno had a couple of rough snaps in his time at left tackle (to be fair, a lot of left tackles have problems against that Broncos' front seven....) - the offensive line will really just have to be a thing we keep an eye on over the next preseason game or two. Seven sacks on the day and 11 credited quarterback hits is not how you want to see this unit start off.
- Connor Shaw led the team in rushing with 14 yards on 2 carries (7.0 YPC). The total YPC for the team was 2.8, and nobody else was higher than a 2.7 (Ka'Deem Carey, 3 carries, 8 yards). Rookie Jordan Howard had 5 carries for 12 yards, and could find himself advancing quickly if Carey's concussion protocols sideline him. But for a team that wants to pride itself on the run game, 17 carries for 48 yards stymies most offenses pretty badly.
- Khari Lee had your lone tight end pass target on the day. Rob Housler had the tackle on Hoyer's interception. That's not quite the 1 for 1 ratio you want to see out of the tight end group. I'd say they made up for it on the blocking end, but, uh, I don't think the rushing stats nor the pass rush stats say that either. Just a nondescript, quiet, and bad day out of the unit. We'll probably see more of Miller, Lee and Housler as the preseason wears on, this simply may not have been the day to have them involved.
- Marc Mariani and Daniel Braverman combined for 0 yards on 3 punt returns (one for Mariani, 2 for Braverman).
- In more bad stats, Pat O'Donnell had 8 punts. The Bears had 8 combined first downs.
- And speaking of punts, on the blocked punt, just a bit of bad blocking by DeAndre Houston-Carson.
- The Bears committed fewer penalties, and I was pleasantly surprised that the first flag of the game was not on the Bears, but two near consecutive penalties by Whitehair (Holding, Illegal Use of Hands) forced 2nd and 15, then 3rd and 23 and things got really rough. Whitehair can play, but those penalties need to stop in a hurry.
There really isn't a lot more to say about the first preseason game. Nothing really of substance happened, a lot of talent evaluation going on, but a lot that looks like it needs to be cleaned up in the next three weeks on the way to the regular season. Preseason's the key word here; there's still plenty of time to evaluate talent, figure out who plays where, who plays at all, that kind of thing. These games mean nothing to us, but watching your team go down 22-0 is simply not easy to take, that's understandable. Take it all in stride, and it's a work in progress to get to week 1 when things actually matter.
What stood out to you after the first preseason game?