So last night, because I figured there would be more to keep track of over the course of the game, I decided to do a bit of stream-of-consciousness throughout the game. But a few more organized thoughts before getting into that:
We like to think that there's a lot at stake for the backups and players in this game, but most of the players on the roster have already likely been figured out and in reality there may only be a few spots open. So most of these players, they've already been decided on. 22 of the 75 guys on last night's roster will be without a job.
One more thing on a serious tangent, don't look at the team's 1-3 record at all. The records in preseason don't matter. The results of the individual plays and individual player performances matter more. And there were a lot more individual plays and individual performances that actually made you feel better - well, at least as much as a preseason game against the Browns can. If you're going to have bad plays, they may as well come when things don't matter at all. If there's time to work on things, that's the time to have those things fail, as opposed to when they count. No one is going to say they turned a corner last night, nor should they, but closing on a high note can do nothing but help confidence for a team that will need to play with everything it has to get to .500 or so.
- Pretty clear here in the early going the Bears are just trying to get through this game as quick and healthy as possible along with evaluating a wide-open bottom of the roster, running every backup except for Kevin White and several short plays. White showed some really nice cut and go coming back for a throw, and once things settle down for him, he just might be okay.
- Still not really seeing much good out of Brian Hoyer, who ignored an open Ka'Deem Carey as an outlet to avoid getting sacked. Carey does look pretty patient and falls forward, converting a couple short firsts early. Hoyer also missed a pretty well open Cameron Meredith in the back of the end zone.
- The Bears' second-team defense did a pretty nice job against the Browns' first offensive drive, as Robert Griffin III missed a throw. The Bears forced a punt, got a fair catch at their 46, and a short offensive drive into the red zone got snuffed out by a Browns' defensive lineman in the backfield. This seems to be a recurring thing this preseason.
- Jonathan Bullard can flat out play.
- John Timu played a significant role last year, and did a... well, not awful job. Not great, but not awful. The Bears can do much worse than him at backup. A lot of the front-7 guys that played last year are still likely on the squad this year, which offers quite a bit of depth. Maybe even solid depth. We'll see.
- Regarding the punt that glanced off BJ Daniels' foot and was recovered for a touchdown, it looked to me like the ball came down to the ground and bounced straight back, though the Bears did have a play like that last year which wasn't reversed due to the change of direction. The lesson - don't be on top of the ball if you may not catch it. Although this time, I'd say a diving combination of Bears and Browns players that Daniels had to jump over makes things a little tougher to deal with. Either way, a play like that hurts Daniels' already pretty slim chances of making the roster, since the Bears were giving him a lot of looks at returns over this and last game. (Never mind, on a better replay later on, the ball did glance off his foot.)
- Deiondre' Hall came in pretty strong against the end zone, playing Terrelle Pryor hard out of bounds to break up a pass, then went up against Josh Gordon and broke up another pass.
- Touchdown, Browns. Spread, blocker on blocker, nobody open to take the running back, and Isaiah Crowell is in the end zone. Just well blocked, well adjusted and well executed. Browns take a special teams miscue and convert for a touchdown.
- Cornelius Washington just cannot catch a break with injuries, can he. When he's played this preseason, he's done some work. Of course, playing has been followed by, you know, injuries. Not a good combination for a guy who missed last year.
- Hey, Hoyer can identify a blitz and find Meredith after all. The next play, another quick release to Kevin White in the middle of the field who picks up another few yards. White's been getting more reps and more opportunities, and he's definitely the athlete trying to play wide receiver versus actually playing wide receiver, but the potential to be more is showing.
- Ka'Deem Carey matches Isaiah Crowell with a touchdown after a pass interference call drawn by White. Carey found a small opening, hit it, fell forward, touchdown.
- Quick, give your RB chart - Jeremy Langford, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jordan Howard, Paul Lasike / Ka'Deem Carey? Do both go? Do either? Does Rodgers go to keep Carey despite his third-down specialties? Hooray, roster configurations.
- Cornelius Edison had a decent game last week, and has been sort of okay tonight, but on the second sack Hoyer took he got blasted right to his ass.
- No, the Browns defense is not as strong as it once was, but it was important for the Bears to see some success on a few plays, especially for Kevin White, who figures to play a big role going forward.
- Very nice interception by Jacoby Glenn; the Bears got some really good pass rush on a long developing play, Josh McCown tried to hit Josh Gordon, but the throw came up short and Glenn came down on it for the pick. He maaaay have gotten away with a bit of a jersey hold, but the playmaking element is one that was missing heavily from last year's squad. Deiondre Hall and Glenn both may have a little of that element, at least. Hall in particular has shown a willingness to be around the ball this preseason.
- Daniel Braverman needs to run toward the other end zone.
- Brian Hoyer loves throwing low passes with a d-line collapsing on him.
- Leonard Floyd left in the middle of the second quarter. Not to fear, Bears fans:
- Yes, he returned in the third quarter.
- John Timu had a screen pass lined up in front of him, bearing down, easy stop... and completely whiffed the tackle. Sure, it's rainy, but you gotta make that tackle.
- Jacoby Glenn committed an easy, easy pass interference by hugging a receiver before batting the ball. He follows up with great deep coverage on Gordon, keeping up stride for stride and making a play on the ball. All in all, going up against Gordon, Glenn has held his own. Not really been great, but he's done a decent job overall.
- Good to see Nick Kwiatkowski out on the field.
- Da'vaunte Bausby got in in the third quarter with a couple of solid plays with the Browns pushed back against their own end zone.
- Daniel Braverman was put in as a punt returner in the third quarter, presumably to try to add a little specials value as a returner. Allowing a punt to go overhead and roll for a total of a 75-yard punt is not how you build that specials value.
- Handicap the wide receiver race now. Go. It won't be that easy to kick Cameron Meredith off the roster.
- I said in the postgame livestream last week that I would be surprised if David Fales saw the inside of a Bears jersey from anything other than the practice squad. For whatever movement the Bears' offense had in the first have with Hoyer, it pretty much stalled completely with Fales (and Braverman with no Kevin White, because again, it's never just the quarterback).
- Jordan Howard is a solid player. Running against the 3s is kind of a mismatch. Fales found a way to keep a play alive, danced around a scrambled out of the pocket before lofting a touch pass over the defender into Howard's hands for a long first down. On his touchdown run in the fourth quarter, he got a solid edge block, but just hit the corner hard and powered upfield to just get the ball over the pylon.
- Hey, Christian Jones put together a sack!
- Wait a minute, they actually test/prepare for having only six officials (one feigning injury)? I never knew that.
- BJ Daniels back in as returner, there goes Daniel Braverman's chance.
- Paul Lasike is a pounder as a runner, but as a blocker, he's not quite all there. Like the look of him with the ball in his hands, though.
Looks like #Bears equipment folks added visor to Leonard Floyd's facemask so he might have just taken a foreign object or finger in the mask— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) September 2, 2016
I mean, seriously son. https://t.co/2HIlytmkGe— Dane Noble (@WindyCGridiron) September 2, 2016
Rough landing for Howard but luckily he's OK pic.twitter.com/KNpJ0cPUkY— Mike Woellert (@Mike_Woellert) September 2, 2016
So in the end, there was something to be encouraged by, there were still things to be worried by, and the Bears go into their game against Houston next Sunday with a 0-0 record, tied for first and last in the NFC North. What's on your mind heading into the regular season?