The Chicago Bears didn’t reveal many tricks on Thursday night when they took on the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field, but they were able to execute well enough down the stretch to pick up a 27-10 victory in their preseason opener.
In order to fully unpack the victory, we’re going to break out our Grizzly Details recap for the first time this football season.
McManis, Clausen Show Promise as Reserve Players
The Bears’ starters had a tough time moving the ball up the field and preventing the Dolphins from doing so, but two of their back-up players seemed to step up in a big way to help lead the team to victory.
The first player that stood out was cornerback Sherrick McManis, who has seemingly become a forgotten man in the discussion of which cornerback should start opposite of Kyle Fuller (assuming that Tim Jennings kicks inside as a nickel corner). In the game, McManis made several key defensive plays, including an excellent forced fumble that gave the Bears back possession and helped them turn things around from a momentum perspective.
Jimmy Clausen also showed a good deal of promise, rebounding from a lackluster training camp with an excellent game. Showing poise in the pocket, Clausen threw for 151 yards and looked like he was in command of the offense, and that is something that the Bears desperately need as Jay Cutler has shown a penchant for getting injured in recent seasons.
Starters Show Lack of Punch in Vanilla Scheme
As good as Clausen and McManis were, the starters were victimized by a simplified gameplan and the absence of key players. Cutler only threw for 42 yards in the game, and he was without his top target and top running back as Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte both sat out of the contest.
Further hindering Cutler was a tendency by the offense to commit presnap penalties. Eddie Royal and Jordan Mills each picked up penalties, as did starting center Will Montgomery. Those all caused the Bears’ offense to sputter to a halt at times, and even though they did manage a field goal in a last gasp effort early in the second quarter, they didn’t look as smooth as one would hope in a preseason opener.
On defense, the Bears had trouble stopping Ryan Tannehill and company as they racked up a 14-play, 85 yard touchdown possession to start the game. Tannehill racked up 56 yards passing on the drive, and Lamar Miller rushed for 32 more as the team took an early lead in the game.
Is Jordan Mills at Risk of Losing His Job?
If there was one player that stood out in a truly negative fashion on Thursday night, it was right tackle Jordan Mills. He not only committed a false start penalty on the Bears’ first offensive play of the night, but he also allowed a sack to Cameron Wake as he struggled to contain the Dolphins’ aggressive pass rush.
These types of struggles are nothing new for Mills, but the notion that he could be replaced is picking up steam as players like Michael Ola make a push for his job. Ola did get a start last season on the line, and if Mills continues to cough up pre-snap penalties and allow sacks, then he cannot be allowed to continue to play on the line on a consistent basis.