By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63
After a day of reviewing the history of pro football and soaking up a compelling speech from former Bear’s linebacker Brian Urlacher, the Chicago Bears made a strong stance at the Hall of Fame game in a 17-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The stage was set for rookies to make their mark and veterans to show they still got what it takes to compete. It would have been epic to have seen the Bears first-round pick out on the field for the entire world to see. But there were others who took the stage to prove that they belonged in the NFL.
First, let’s just say that the new helmet rule needs to be reviewed and defined explicitly as to not ruin the integrity of the game. I am all for player safety, but how far does the head have to be lowered to count as a penalty? This could be a nightmare all season.
Due to the new NFL Helmet Rule, the following plays will be penalized this season for unnecessary roughness:
-Lowering your head before a hit
-Hitting another player at any time
-Attempting to play any kind of defense
-Looking at another player too aggressively
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) August 3, 2018
Back to the game.
Veteran quarterback Chase Daniel opened up with a nice first drive that led to a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Burton. Daniel completed 8 of 16 passes for 53 yards, two interceptions and a passer rating of 38.8. His pass to the helmet of one of his offensive lineman was not his finest moment. Not an encouraging start for the number two QB.
However, third-string QB Tyler Bray connected 18 of 34 passes for 181 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to wide receiver Tyler Gentry. Though he started off a little rocky, Bray finished with a 78.2 passer rating. Bray may find himself in the number two spot if he continues to play the way he did tonight.
A positive surprise was the performance of rookie seventh-round WR Javon Wims. He has quite the sticky-hands for a receiver and caught every ball thrown to him. Hauling in seven catches for 89 yards, Wims was a one-man show in the second half. On the flip side, wide receiver veteran Bennie Fowler III did not have a good night. He dropped several passes, including one in the end zone that he had caught but released when he hit the ground. Tight end Colin Thompson was impressive on short hitch routes, catching the ball cleanly and doing his part. His performance was a little more solid than veteran Dion Sims.
Running back Benny Cunningham performed well in the first half, with RBs Taquan Mizzell and Ryan Nall in the second half moving the rock. However, I would like to see more of Nall in the run game next week as he has the power of a fullback as well.
The offensive line had some struggles. Right guard Dejon Allen was overtaken by almost every bull rush that came at him. Center Jack Allen bowled the ball to Bray instead of hiking it, forcing Bray to run after it and lunge forward to avoid a safety. Offensive guard Brandon Greene struggled to hold a block. The way it looks now, if left tackle Charles Leno Jr., gets hurt, QB Mitchell Trubisky is going to be running for his life.
On to the defense. Linebackers rookies Kylie Fitts and Bilal Nichols put some pressure on the Ravens offensive line, each with a QB sack. The surprise was defensive end Jonathan Bullard who made a case on a starting job. In his third season Bullard wants a bigger role, but nipping at his heels is LB Roy Robertson-Harris who also picked up a sack.
The Bears defense racked up 8 sacks for a loss against the Ravens, showing that more QB pressure is the number one priority. Outside linebacker Isaiah Irving has really improved on his hand moves to get over a lineman. He showed that coming off the edge to rush QB Lamar Jackson.
The defensive backs were on fire, especially Deon Bush who was a lack-luster player last season but emerged fast and violent in the red zone. DB Cre’Von LeBlanc and rookie Michael Joseph had a so-so night missing some tackles but landing some nice stops. Cornerback Doran Grant had himself a nice interception off of Jackson. The way he read the play was that of a top-notch corner.
All in all, it was refreshing to see rookies and veterans playing for a position on the 53, maybe land on the practice squad.
Talk Bears football with Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63