The Chicago Bears got their season off to a lackluster start on Sunday afternoon as they lost 23-14 to the Houston Texans.
With their record now at 0-1 and the team preparing to face Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles, we’re taking a look at three positives and three negatives that the Bears can take away from Sunday’s loss as they looking to right the ship.
Positive: Middle Linebackers a Strength for Bears
Two of the biggest offseason acquisitions the Bears made were in the middle of their defense, with Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman signing lucrative deals to play with the team. On Sunday, both players showed their incredible worth, combining for 28 tackles and two tackles for loss in the losing effort.
The great thing about both players was simply how they seemed to be everywhere on the field at once. Whether in pass coverage (a point of concern for the Bears given the depleted health of their secondary) or against the run, both players filled gaps and made plays in pursuit all game long.
Negative: Tackles and Center Remain a Concern
The Bears made a significant upgrade at left guard when they signed Josh Sitton to a three-year deal before the season began, but they still have some question marks to answer as Cody Whitehair, Bobby Massie, and Charles Leno, Jr. all had rough games on Sunday.
The Texans have one of the most ferocious pass rushes that the Bears will face this season, and even with J.J. Watt just coming off of a back injury, Houston was still able to hit Jay Cutler with ease all day long. Cutler ended up getting hit on 13 different occasions in the game, and players like Jadeveon Clowney (four tackles) and Whitney Mercilus (two sacks) were among those who got to him frequently.
If the Bears are going to keep Cutler upright, then they are either going to need to get better play out of the aforementioned linemen, or they are going to have to keep at least one blocking tight end on the field at all times to lighten the load on Massie and Leno.
Positive: Jeffery Makes Big Plays
In a somewhat surprising development, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was only targeted by Cutler on six occasions on Sunday, but he was still able to make four catches for 105 yards in a losing effort.
Dogged by injuries last season and during the preseason, Jeffery is looking to prove that he is worthy of a new multi-year contract from the Bears, and he made a very good first impression on Sunday. His 54-yard catch helped set up a late first half touchdown for the Bears, and he was also able to high-point balls and get involved in the vertical passing game in a way that he wasn’t able to last season.
Negative: White Fails to Impress
As impressive as Jeffery was in Sunday’s game, Kevin White had an inauspicious debut for the Bears. With a couple of drops and a horribly-run route that cost Cutler an interception, White was a downright liability at times for the Bears, and his stat line of three catches for 34 yards was only inflated because of a pair of garbage time catches late in the game.
It’s hard to judge a player for having one bad game, especially when it’s the first regular season game of his career, but White has hardly looked explosive thus far in the preseason and now the regular season. He has to be more of a speed weapon for the Bears than he showed on Sunday, because if he isn’t, then teams will be able to dedicate safeties to helping cover Jeffery over the top, and that will severely limit what the Bears are able to do through the air.
Positive: Tracy Porter Has a Solid Game
The Bears’ secondary was one of the biggest question marks facing the team this season, with the health of Kyle Fuller and the ability of Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey leading the way among the concerns.
On Sunday, Porter largely covered Texans stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and he had a largely solid day at the office. Hopkins did manage five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, but Porter also had his moments, including a first quarter interception that helped feed the Bears some momentum in the game.
Jacoby Glenn did have a rough game for the Bears, and it’s unclear if Deiondre’ Hall is going to be an answer at corner, but for the first week at least, Porter helped the secondary to a decent game, and with the team’s solid front seven, decent should be good enough to provide the defense with massive improvement over last season.
Negative: Osweiler Avoids Pressure-Filled Game
When the Bears re-signed Willie Young and drafted Leonard Floyd with their first round pick this year, they made both moves with the intention of creating matchup nightmares for opposing offensive lines.
The Texans were missing their starting left tackle on Sunday afternoon, as Duane Brown sat out the game, but that didn’t seem to help the Bears much. They did register eight quarterback hits and two sacks in the game, but Floyd was routinely swallowed up by blockers and players like Jonathan Bullard had difficulty making adjustments in his first career NFL game.
Young didn’t even find his way onto the scoresheet in the game, failing to get much pressure on Brock Osweiler in the backfield, and Lamarr Houston didn’t do much better, as he registered just one quarterback hit and two solo tackles in the game.
If the Bears don’t get better production out of their veterans and their athletic rookies, then teams are going to have a much easier time going up against a suspect secondary this season.