The Bears’ 2023 preseason got off to an exciting start with their 23-17 victory over the Titans. While fans are glad to see the Bears win the game, winning is not what the preseason is about. Preseason is about evaluating the new pieces on the team in live game action. With that in mind, here are five takeaways from the Bears’ preseason week one victory.
Starting defense struggles
Entering the game, the Bears were missing four starters on defense. However, missing some starters does not excuse how bad they looked in their drive against the Titans. The struggles began by allowing a thirty yard catch due to blown coverage on the first play of the game. Miscommunications leading to bad plays like this were common for the Bears last season, so beginning the first preseason game with similar issues is a bit worrying.
The starters also struggled in the running game, allowing 41 yards and a rushing touchdown to the Titans. Even though the Titans are typically one of the best rushing teams in the NFL, the Bears not slowing down their backup running back with the starting defense is worrying. Due to the fact the Bears spent money in the offseason to revamp the run defense.
While the starting defense struggled against the Titans, it needs to look better when the defense is at full strength in the upcoming preseason games.
Backup defensive line creates havoc
While the starting defense struggled, the same can not be said about the backups who created havoc in the Titans’ backfield. The havoc created by the backups resulted in eight sacks for the Bears. Eight sacks is the most the Bears have recorded in a preseason game since the 2018 Hall Of Fame game, according to Kevin Fishbain of the Athletic.
Terell Lewis, Trevis Gipson, Travis Bell, Zacch Pickens, Jalen Harris, Micah Baskerville and Noah Sewell all recorded sacks. Five out of the seven players who recorded a sack were rookies. Watching these players, especially the rookies, create pressure and sacks is a nice change of pace after having no pass rush last season. It will be interesting to see which of these players can continue getting to the quarterback during the rest of the preseason.
Defense lays down the “boom”
During the first drive, cornerback Kyler Gordon had two big hits that set the tone for how physical the Bears were going to play. The first of the hits came on the game’s first play when Gordon cracked Titans wideout Chirs Moore. The massive hit caused him to lose control of the ball. Although Moore was ruled down before losing possession, the hit sent a message.
Gordon also delivered a big hit on Moore in the redzone. This hit resulted in an incomplete pass, but it looked like it could have been a forced fumble. Gordon was not the only player to lay the boom as the Bears were flying to the football the whole game making big hits. Seeing players lay out the opposition is a good change of pace after last season.
An area of the defense that is important to head coach Matt Eberflus is creating turnovers. He has shown this through the HITS (Hustler, Intensity, Takeaways, and Smarts) principles he has implemented as head coach. That is why seeing the defense create four turnovers against the Titans is encouraging.
The turnovers the defense forced consisted of two interceptions and two fumbles. The players that secured the interceptions for the Bears were rookies AJ Thomas and Bralen Trahan. Both are likely to be on the practice squad due to the Bears’ depth at defensive back but nonetheless good plays from rookies. The fumbles were forced by defensive end Terell Lewis and safety Adrian Colbert. While neither of the players will be starters, they can be good rotational pieces if they keep playing hard and creating turnovers in the preseason.
Trevis Gipson balls out
Entering the preseason, the Bears front office is not high on Trevis Gipson, placing him last on the defensive end unofficial depth chart. This only seems to have motivated the former fifth-round pick, who played hungry against the Titans. Gipson was consistently in the backfield and recorded five total tackles, three quarterback hits, and the sack mentioned earlier against the Titans.
Gipson still has lots of work to do to prove himself in a crowded edge rush room. However, if he plays this hard the rest of the preseason, he might make the Bears’ roster.
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