Today’s mood is brought to you by Velus Jones Jr. and the letter W:
It feels like a blessing to make it to Friday. Enjoy yourselves, friends.
- This is probably a good tweet to lead with on the morning after a(nother) Bears preseason win:
- And yet, I definitely feel like I’m in the right to feel good about the general direction of this team. It’s just two preseason games, but this team looks competent. As you can tell, I’m trying NOT to go overboard with my summertime assessments. But after the last few years of the Matt Nagy era (which included some incredibly sloppy preseason play which I found inexcusable), the Preseason Bears playing a clean brand of football is refreshing as heck.
- How’s this for clean? The Matt Eberflus Bears have played 272 snaps in two preseason games. They’ve committed just 8 penalties. Through two preseason games last year, the Bears committed 19 (!) penalties. In 2019, they committed 16 (!) penalties in their first two preseason games. Don’t overlook the importance of clean preseason football. Just because they’re exhibition games doesn’t mean there is an excuse to play sloppy, careless, and undisciplined. This feels like an important step in the right direction.
- I’m not going to predict Super Bowl glory for these Bears based on a few clean showings of exhibition football. But I’ll go out on a limb and say this team will be infinitely more watchable this year than they were last year. It’s amazing what playing without mucking up the game with penalties and giving your opponents free yards and points can do for your football sensibilities.
- Even still … the Bears still have so much work to do. It wasn’t a perfect night by any means. For instance, that 1st-and-goal series in the fourth quarter where the Bears had three shots from the 1-yard-line and did nothing with it would still be stuck in my craw if this was a regular season game. Give the dang ball to De’Montre Tuggle (who had 32 rushing yards on that drive before Seattle’s goal line stand) and let the chips fall where they may. In a regular season game, I’d hope to see a healthy dose of David Montgomery and/or Khalil Herbert … and *MAYBE* a play-action pass to Cole Kmet. Again, it’s hard to get too up-in-arms over a moment like this right now.
- One thing I will be up in arms over: Tuggle running into Dazz Newsome on a punt return, causing Newsome to muff a punt that led directly to a turnover. Newsome is already on the bubble, needing to prove he can contribute as a returner and down-the-depth-chart receiver option in order to make this team out of camp. Tuggle was already up against it as the fifth running back in a room where David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert are locks (with Darrynton Evans and Trestan Ebner being virtual locks at the position). You can’t have that kind of sloppiness when you’re holding onto a roster spot by a thread.
- Kyler Gordon didn’t factor into the box score last night. But I saw him play a good amount of snaps. But a whiff on a tackle attempt being the most notable thing the rookie corner did in his debut makes for an inauspicious start. But hey, there is no where to go but up, rookie!
- On the other end of the spectrum, the play-calling on the first drive was immaculate. Especially if you were wanting to see Justin Fields get an extensive look. Ten plays broken down into seven Fields pass attempts, one Fields scramble, and two plays where Cole Kmet was a playmaker. Preseason caveats be damned, it’s amazing how a tight end can look when schemed properly. I’m not saying Kmet is the second coming of George Kittle. But I am willing to suggest that if Robert Tonyan can have a breakthrough performance in this offense, then someone with Kmet’s prospect pedigree can do the same (and then some).
- This was awesome:
- Back to the other side of things, I left that Thursday night edition of Monday Night Football finding a new appreciation for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Don’t get me wrong. I realize they’re not everyone’s favorite. But calling the Bears QB “Josh” Fields, making reference to 72 being Charles Leno Jr. (who wasn’t even on the team last year when this same crew did a MNF game), misidentifying a Black/Brown man as Bears GM Ryan Poles made for a rough watch. It’s almost as if ESPN had reason to throw bags of cash at Buck and Aikman.
- In defense of the broadcast, I thought sideline reporter Laura Rutledge had fun anecdotes in interviews with receivers Darnell Mooney (Bears) and DK Metcalf (Seahawks), as well as Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus. You won’t get those opportunities in regular-season games, so it was neat to get that different sideline perspective while we had a chance.
- I was burning some midnight oil with preseason postgame thoughts last night:
- The Deshaun Watson appeal ruling went down yesterday, and it has me befuddled. Watson really went from this last Friday:
… to this on Thursday:
- On the one hand, I find it encouraging that that process saw that the original ruling was too light on the suspension side. Maybe there is a checks-and-balances system that works? But on the other hand, Watson’s walking back is apologetic words from a week ago as soon as his suspension was announced feels dirty as heck. And if I had a third hand, it would be balled up in a rage fist.
- It also bugs me how the Texans come off without scorn. Dumping a player set to serve a suspension and coming out of the other end reaping benefits feels so wrong.
- This quote from Scott Frost highlighting the vomits from offensive linemen under new coach Donovan Raiola (who you might remember as a former Bears Assistant OL Coach who was one of the first to jump ship and leave the Nagy regime) is equal parts gross, cringe, and dangerous:
- Baseball has been around since the 1800s. And I’d bet on this happening less than a handful of times before yesterday:
- The weird thing about NBA strength of schedule is that everyone plays everyone. So, in theory, Team A having an easier (or tougher) schedule than Team B shouldn’t be a thing. But between game sequencing, back-to-backs, and travel miles being things to consider, you’d be surprised how easy (or hard) some have it. Eli digs into it and I learned something new from reading:
Could the Blackhawks Leverage Their Roster and Cap Space Flexibility to Get a Flippable Trade Piece from Toronto?