Bears fans, I’m all for positivity. But after a loss like Saturday’s game, we’ve got to ask an all-important question: Why did things go so wrong?
In this weekly “Lowlights” thread I’ll look to answer just that — we’ll look at various issues of the week (“Lowlights”) and their potential solutions (the “Bright Sides”). It should be a fun way to talk about the Bears’ problems, so let’s dive right in!
Note: In effort to not drown you in repeated text, make sure you read the tweet each video is attached to — it’s part of the article! Feel free to let me know if you have any issues!
Lowlight 1: 1st-Half Nickel Cornerbacks
Let's start with the game's biggest lowlight, the play of the 1st-Half Nickel CBs— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
Shelley (22) and Christian (43) consistently gave up uncontested catches with clear separation, looking lost in zones too. This has to improve -- if you can't stop a slant, you don't have a defense pic.twitter.com/WsajpNjIPc
The Bright Side: The Bears’ NCBs likely won’t improve soon, but the ILBs supporting them will — Roquan Smith, the Bears’ elite coverage LB, could be just what their D needs when defending passes over the middle.
With Quan back by Week 1, Desai might be able to help the NCBs.
Lowlight 2: Confusion on the Defense
For that to happen though, Desai first needs to address our second Lowlight of the week -- confusion amongst the secondary.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
Whether an ILB or NCB issue, the Bears' defenders were caught out of place not twice in the 1st half, both on key downs. That can't happen in Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/kzQvUv54nA
The Bright Side: Say it with me, “it’s the preseason”.
While that doesn’t make these mistakes any better, it’s helpful to remember that now’s the season for making mistakes and correcting them with practice. Watch for similar issues against Tennessee, hopefully we see improvement
Lowlight 3: Kindle Vildor’s “feel” in zone defense
We have one more defensive Lowlight, though it's not near as troubling as our first two -- CB Kindle Vildor's play in zone defense isn't quite *there* yet.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
Vildor, a young man-coverage CB, is still finding his "feel" in Desai's zone defense. Needs to quicken route recognition. pic.twitter.com/IoXYpJTBfE
The bright side: Vildor's issues were specific to zone coverage, he vindicated himself well whenever he played man coverage.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
He's feisty, physical, and can match feet on slants/outs well. And while he missed the tackle on this last rep, I loved his quick break on the ball. pic.twitter.com/Beg1KHHi2f
Lowlight 4: Sam Mustipher’s run blocking struggles
We're done with D, now let's talk offense -- I thought Sam Mustipher (67) struggled when run blocking on Saturday.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
He seemed to get driven back on outside zone runs while not quick enough on inside runs. Had a nice block on the fumble, but the Bears need more from him this year. pic.twitter.com/MnL8OwqNLV
The bright side: Mustipher's young and his preseason struggles could be a matter of getting comfortable in the starting role. Hopefully we see improvement vs TEN.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
I did want to shout out Khyiris Tonga -- the 7th rounder looked stout! Excited to see his development going forward! pic.twitter.com/vKfobNVW0h
Lowlight 5: Pre-Snap Penalties
Our second offensive Lowlight is something #Bears fans have come to know all too well -- the Bears took FOUR pre-snap penalties, including 2 illegal formations, in the 1st half alone.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
Now 4 years into Nagy's tenure, this is ridiculous. You've got to be able to line up properly pic.twitter.com/9l7Fb0tpbZ
The Bright Side: While not being able to line up is obviously not good, at least the Bears’ offense is schematically moving in a pro-analytics direction via offensive motion & play-action. In the 1st half, they used motion on 15/26 plays, with play-action on 7/17 passes. They followed that up in the 3rd quarter with motion on 10/18 plays and play-action on 5/13 throws. That’s solid!
Lowlight 6: Poor punt coverage
Finally, let's talk about ST -- the #Bears' punt coverage unit has been anything but special and it can't stay this way.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 26, 2021
The unit can't seem to keep outside contain, allowing runners to get to the edges for big gains. The TD seemed to come off an injury though (watch the MOF) pic.twitter.com/2jNz1zlxKQ
The Bright Side: I was shocked when I looked into this, but Pat O’Donnell is absolutely HAMMERING the ball this preseason. In just two games (12 punts), he’s cranked the ball 60+ yards 4 times and another 3 have been 55-60yd. Hopefully the coverage unit can live up to his kicks soon!
That wraps up this week’s Lowlights — let me know what you think of the concept! I’m always out to provide the best content I possibly can, be it critical or not, and I’m always on the hunt for better ways to say “this didn’t go well, hopefully it improves”. Let me know!