Yeah, we’re ready too:
The city's ready.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 10, 2017
The first of 20 games (hopefully more?) kicks off tonight with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos squaring off in the preseason opener. It’s the first semi-meaningful football action for the Bears since the team’s lopsided season-ending loss to the Minnesota Vikings on January 1. Not quite how you wanted to start off the calendar year, but hope springs eternal as we wrap up training camp and head into the preseason.
- Last year, the Bears opened the preseason with a 22-0 loss against the Broncos – and the box score really did nothing to predict the future. Mark Sanchez was the Broncos’ leading passer (10-13, 99 yards, 1 TD), Connor Shaw was the Bears’ leading rusher (2 attempts, 14 yards), and Cody Latimer of the Broncos led all players with 82 receiving yards on seven catches. To put it in perspective, Latimer caught eight passes in 12 regular season games. So, be excited about football’s return – just know that it might not be as predictive as you might want.
- Because he has been relegated to third-string duties, there is a chance we might not see Mitch Trubisky until the second half. And that’s OK because it’s what he does when he gets in that matters, not necessarily when he takes the field. With that in mind, Dan Durkin of The Athletic offers up some things to watch for in tonight’s preseason opener. Among the things I’ll be keeping my eyes on are how Trubisky takes snaps from under center, and how he looks in the pocket. While taking the snap is the an important part of the process, what’s most important is Trubisky finding a comfort level early that would allow him to deliver strong, accurate passes. He’ll be doing it against third-stringers, but how he reacts in the pocket isn’t something that should be overlooked.
- And remember, Trubisky has a lot on his plate. Learning a new playbook, building bonds, getting to know his new teammates, and tweaking his mechanics are among the things the rookie quarterback has been working on this summer/fall. Indeed, he’s so busy and involved, he doesn’t have time for outside noise. So much so, in fact, Chris Emma of CBS Chicago highlights how Trubisky is trying to minimize distractions and isolate himself in an attempt to keep his focus on his development as a quarterback.
- Off the field, Trubisky made the cardinal sin of choosing LeBron over Jordan, which officially ushered in the Mike Glennon Era in Chicago.
- How often Trubisky targets receiver Tanner Gentry is also something worth keeping tabs on. The Trubisky-Gentry connection has helped put the undrafted free agent on the map, turning him into a training camp superstar. Over at the Daily Herald, Bob LeGere points out why the Bears have been paying close attention to the development and progress of the Wyoming product during training camp. It would be nice to see Gentry’s climb up the depth charts continue, and a solid performance against the Broncos wouldn’t hurt his stock.
- The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain looks at the other receivers in camp as a whole, many of whom are wearing new, non-traditional numbers … because receivers are interesting people to say the least.
- Kyle Fuller, who has been lining up opposite of Bears receivers in camp, could be on the trading block this summer. While answering questions sent to his mailbag, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that Fuller’s preseason performance could make a deal possible. Biggs warns that Fuller has little value now, especially after missing the entire 2016 season; however, a “very good” preseason could change that and allow the Bears to give the former first-round pick a much-needed fresh start.
- Speaking of fresh starts, Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson debuted on Wednesday at a stadium in which he won a pair of ACC Championships:
— NFL (@NFL) August 10, 2017
- Watson went 15-for-25 for 179 yards, and added a rushing touchdown. Tom Savage made the start, didn’t complete a pass on the team’s first drive, and finished 9-for-11 with 69 yards.
- Josh Dobbs gets overlooked in the rookie quarterback class. The fourth-round pick was an experienced starter at Tennessee, but was known more for his work in the classroom than on the football field. Putting the books aside, Will Graves writes Dobbs will get his chances tonight – and throughout the preseason, presumably. It feels like Dobbs is taking the right approach to life as a backup.
- The Bears aren’t the only NFC North team in action tonight. An Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota Vikings team will partake in tonight’s preseason action, and team reporter Eric Smith is tracking what to watch in the team’s opener against the Buffalo Bills. The Green Bay Packers will also take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles, with Mike Spofford keeping an eye on five keys to lock-in on in their opener. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions won’t play a preseason game until Sunday. Slackers.
- And one month from now, the games will actually mean something: