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Montgomery impresses and Fry gets a foot ahead in Bears preseason opener vs Panthers

Bears football is back and our furry friends are showing promise in a 23 to 13 “loss” to the Panthers in preseason opener.

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
David Montgomery takes “high stepping” into the end zone to a new level.

Bears football is back! I can’t begin to put in words how amazing it is to finally see Khalil Mack Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Eddie Jackson, Roquan Smith, Allen Robinson and Mitch Trubisky on the field again!

Hey, we got a “drive” of “starters,” a lot of back-of-the-roster action, and some juicy kicker developments to enjoy. I really can’t complain.

If preseason box scores are your thing, you can find it here.

Mitchell Trubisky

Looked like a legitimate MVP candidate in three seamless hand-offs to Mike Davis.

OK, I’m starting to get this David Montgomery thing

This new Bear may slowly help ease the Jo Ho sized hole in my heart. His game was a great tutorial in words people use to praise running backs. Patience. Vision. Contact balance. Paws for days. In one touchdown drive in the first half, Montgomery quickly munched up a chunky portion of my fantasy auction budget. If you had the feed that continues during the commercial break, one of the highlight moments of the night was seeing Montgomery, Biscuit, and Cohen yucking it up and all smiling wide on the sideline after his touchdown. Somebody hand that man a bear claw.

Roquan will have 10 sacks this year

His blitzes are perfectly timed, crazy fast, and he can put a move on whatever hapless running back tries to stop him. He won nearly every rep in the one-on-one drills I saw in camp. It usually wasn’t close and it never seemed fair. Seeing it in the game today, it still doesn’t seem fair.

Bush gets two in the hand

Deon Bush—who played admirably in place of Eddie Jackson during the end of last season and in the playoffs—got a nice pass breakup early in the game and then the Bears’ first 2019 interception in the second quarter. To be honest, the Bears played him far enough into the game that it kind of seemed like cheating. This Bear is a borderline starter.

Outside Linebacker Shallows

If we doubted whether Kylie Fitts was the first man up after Mack, Floyd, and Lynch, the Bears made a statement by lining him up with Lynch in the first defensive snap. Isiah Irving joined him on the next snap, but the symbolic nod to Fitts was there. After that, nobody stood out in a good way. Everyone spent some time in the backfield, but nobody beat backup offensive lineman like you would hope a rotational pass rusher would.

Inside Linebacker depth

Nick Kwiatkoski still slow in pass coverage. He’s who’s great in the run game, but the Bears are spoiled enough with starters who are great in the run game and excellent in pass coverage that I can’t see him as a possible heir to Danny Trevathan’s role. Kevin Pierre-Louis looks solid. Josh Woods had the first big play of the night stripping the ball out of back-up RB Elijah Holyfield kitten paws, then continued to ball out on defense and special teams. Joel Iyiegbuniwe didn’t do anything to stand out except getting beat by Elijah Holyfield. He’s a year into his NFL career and still looks very raw. The traits are there. Unfortunately, I’m starting to worry about the instincts. Prove me wrong, Iggy!

Roy Robertson-Harris is still a stud

This time last year, we were wondering who would stand out among RRH, Bullard, and Nichols. The undrafted defensive end has continued to show his value and nobody was surprised when he broke into the backfield early for a 3rd down TFL stop then followed it up with a sack. Right now, it feels like Bullard is the odd one out. I didn’t see anything this game to change that impression.

Outside Cornerback looks... decent

John Franklin, Michael Joseph, and even Clifton Duck all had moments tonight, but no one has done enough to stand out as the favorite. The Bears have a lot of decent options at the bottom of the cornerback roster, but there’s still a large drop off after Prince Amukamara.

Nick Williams is a good-looking Bear

According to the Bears’ website, he’s only 309 pounds, but he wears them well. He pushed his way into the backfield consistently and I’m glad he’s looking good because he’s the Bear’s only best option behind Eddie Goldman at nose.

Loose Ends

It seems ironic at first, but offensive tackle-turned-TE Bradley Sowell ironically missed a block in the first drive then got called for a holding penalty. After thinking about it, I can understand why someone who’s shed 70 pounds might need to some time to realize what it takes to block in his new body.

Who’s on board the Bunting-coaster? UDFA tight end Ian Bunting has been a standout in camp, and had an exceptionally hit-and-miss game. He started strong with a third down conversion catch (which unfortunately was called back) and then followed almost immediately by missing a crucial block. Later in the first half he made a nice snag for a first down, but quickly fumbled it. My take watching the replay was that Panthers’ safety Rashaan Gaulden made a perfect, well-roasted, salty peanut punch that few could have prevented. He followed this up with a 45 yard catch and run that set the Bears up for an end-of-half possibly-Elliott-Fry-career-making field goal. Bunting came back for a long catch from Bray in the second half and ended up leading the Bears in yards. He certainly has potential as a future “move” tight end for the Bears and I’m exciting to watch his progression.

I like that Mizzell hussle

Given the current depth at wide receiver and running back, RB turned WR Taquon Mizzell is a long shot to make this team, and he probably knows it. He missed the first tackle as a gunner on a first half punt, got up off the ground and chased the returner to ultimately make the tackle. He finished up the game as a go to receiver and runner for Bray in the 4th quarter. Heart of a Bear in that one.

Kerrith Whyte is fast

Unless he’s running into a pile of defensive linemen up the middle. He can beat the heck out of a 3rd string linebacker on an outside run though.

Elliott Fries his competition with a savagely-nailed 43 yard doink-healing boot

Even after a half-assed icing from the Panther’s sideline, Elliott Fry kicked his way into our hearts after Piniero missed a 48 yarder. See you never Eddy. I’m team Elliott for life. I’m just trying to decide which side of my neck to get my Fry Guy tattoo.

Solid as expected

Javon Wims and Duke Shelley both looked good in their limited opportunities to shine. I suspect Shelly’s lack of highlights had to do with good coverage limiting targets in his direction, but I wasn’t watching him every play. When I did watch him, or when the ball got near him, he looked as good as advertised as a training camp standout. Wims ran his routes like a pro and caught every target that was near him.

Smart people will tell you that preseason scores don’t matter. This week, that’s certainly true. I will hold out definitive judgement until I see how the Bears score in future preseason weeks. For now we saw some good-looking Bears do some nice-looking things and I’m leaving the game with plenty to be excited about.

Bear down, Chicago. Football is back!