Welcome to Grizzly Details, our postgame column about the most interesting stories from the Chicago Bears’ weekly contests. Whether it’s a specific play, a player’s overall performance or just a goofy occurrence, you need look no further than right here for your condensed version of the Bears’ season.
Demontre Hurst Hits All Parts of the Spectrum
Things got off to a very inauspicious start for the Bears on Thursday night when cornerback Demontre Hurst blew his assignment and allowed Cleveland WR Josh Gordon to catch a long pass over the middle for a 45 yard completion on the first play of the game.
Predictably, the play elicited groans both from the Bears faithful at Soldier Field and those watching on TV, but Hurst was quick to redeem himself. Just a few plays later, Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer tried to throw another ball over the middle of the field, but this time Hurst read the play correctly, jumped the route, and intercepted the ball.
Hurst wasn’t done paying penance for his early mistake, however. Later in the first half, Hurst executed a perfect blitz through the C-gap in the Browns’ line, and nearly sacked Hoyer in the process. The only reason he didn’t successfully tackle the QB was because Hoyer threw the ball away, committing an intentional grounding penalty in the process.
That kind of effort may have just come in a preseason game, but it’s always heartening to see a player who gets schooled learn his lesson so quickly.
Fendi Onobun Has An Evening to Remember (And Forget)
Onobun has been compared to Antonio Gates and has been praised for his physical gifts for weeks now, but he just hasn’t been able to put together a quality game all preseason long.
Thursday night was no exception. Sure, Onobun had a great run of catches in the third quarter of the contest, but outside of that, he was a hot mess. He had three drops in the game, including a ball that went through his hands and ended up being intercepted by James-Michael Johnson, who returned it for a touchdown.
In addition to his inability to catch the football, Onobun also showed a bad lack of discipline, committing two holding penalties (one of which was declined) in the first half of the game.
All in all, Onobun was targeted eight times by Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards in the game, and ended up with four catches and 45 yards. Whether or not that will be good enough to be the Bears’ backup tight end remains to be seen, but this game did nothing to dispel any of the doubts that fans have about his game.
Palmer Locks Up a Hypothetical Roster Spot
When Matt Blanchard ended up breaking a knuckle on his left hand earlier this preseason, it cast into doubt whether or not the Bears would carry three quarterbacks on their roster. The team brought in Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards to carry the load for the club during the team’s final preseason tilts, but it remains unknown whether the duo was auditioning for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Even still, Palmer’s first half would be enough to secure him a spot on the team should Marc Trestman and company opt to keep a third quarterback. He was brilliantly efficient in his playing time, at one point completing eight passes in a row and ultimately throwing for 111 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts. He also threw a touchdown pass in the game to Joe Anderson.
It was that pass that completed his best drive of the contest. In a drive that lasted 9:27, Palmer helped the Bears to convert all five of their third down opportunities, including on the aforementioned final play to Anderson. On that snap, Anderson called an audible at the line of scrimmage, and Anderson ran a perfect route to the end zone and caught the ball with a leaping grab.
Edwards was by no means bad in his time on the field, but he wasn’t nearly as impressive as Palmer was, and Trestman seemed to agree. “It says a lot about his preparation,” Trestman said of Palmer’s performance. “He came in here; he dug in; he has learned a lot of the offense and spent a lot of time, on his own, trying to assimilate all of it. I’m happy for him that he came out and played very efficiently for us.”
The key word in that statement is “efficiently.” Any coach is going to want a back-up or third string quarterback that can run his system without screwing things up, and since Palmer was able to do that in his stint on the field Thursday night, then it wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see him survive the team’s final round of cuts.