CHICAGO – This is the time of the year when there can often be an overreaction to a game that doesn’t even count in the standings.
That’s what the first game of the preseason is all about in the National Football League as teams and fans get to see players on the field for the first time. Some have standout performances, others struggle, and usually the starters don’t see the field for very long.
That was the case on Saturday for the Bears when they played the Chiefs in their preseason opener at Soldier Field. The starters had limited run on the field while a few of the others didn’t even step on the field to play, with mostly the backups and younger players getting their chance.
Here are a few observations from that contest at Soldier Field, in which the Bears pulled out a 19-14 victory over Kansas City
- A Quick Day For Fields
Justin Fields played into the early part of the second quarter and took 18 snaps, which is about the range that head coach Matt Eberflus expected the starters to go when he discussed it on Thursday. The quarterback finished 4-of-7 passing for 48 yards as the offense punted three times.
Two throws, in particular, were highlights, starting with a 3rd-and-4 completion to Darnell Mooney that went for 26 yards and a first down.
Later on Tajae Sharpe made the catch of the day when he pulled in a Fields’ pass near the sideline with one hand, making a first down catch on 3rd-and-9.
“Just kind of gave him a signal out there and threw the ball up one-on-one. Of course preseason you’re going to see a lot of man coverage, so just gave him a shot and he came down with it,” said Fields of the throw to Sharpe. “He’s a great receiver, has great ball skills, has great routes, so I’m excited to see what he does for us this season for sure.”
- Could Have Called It
A moment that Fields and head coach Matt Eberflus may not have liked during the quarterback’s time on the field was came on his first drive when sliding on a 1st-and-10 run at the Chiefs’ 42-yard line.
Kansas City defensive back Juan Thornhill delivered a hit with his shoulder towards Fields’ head as he slid, drawing some angry reactions from Bears’ offensive lineman along with Eberflus,
“I talked to them when I was I think in the second half about it, and they said that they hit me in the shoulder, but I was looking for like an unsportsmanlike conduct or something like
that, a late hit call or something like that,” said Fields when asked about the hit and it not being a penalty. “I guess I just have to wait a few years, maybe four or five years before I get that one, so hopefully I get it soon.”
- Jaquan Shows His Potential
At least one of the Bears’ potential rookie starters got the chance to show what he could do in his first NFL preseason game.
Jaquan Brisker gave fans a peek at what he might be able to do in 2022 as he got the starter at safety next to veteran Eddie Jackson.
He finished with four tackles, including one for loss, along with a pass deflection and was one of the standouts for the Bears in the opening game on the defensive side of the ball.
- Sanborn Enjoys A Memorable Debut
A big part of the preseason for the Bears’ coaching staff is finding players that will fill out the roster after the main starters are established.
Lake Zurich native Jack Sanborn is one of those players trying to make the roster after signing a free agent contract this past spring after a standout career at Wisconsin.
The linebacker started the second half with an interception and then recovered a fumble later in the third quarter. Sanborn led the Bears with seven tackles with a tackle for loss along with a pass defended on a productive day.
Fellow rookie Trestan Ebner also had a big moment as he scored a third quarter touchdown as he caught a 12-yard touchdown pass for Trevor Siemian.
Defensive tackle and Bolingbrook native Micah Dew-Treadway finished the day for the defense with a sack of Dustin Crum.
- A Test For Matt
While not the first regular season game, Saturday was a special moment for Eberflus and a major first in his coaching career.
For the first time at any level, Eberflus served as a head coach after being a career defensive assistant or coordinator. He ran the defense in Indianapolis the last four years before being hired by general manager Ryan Poles for this job in Chicago back in January.
Safe to say the moment was special for Eberflus, who began his coaching career 30 years ago as a student assistant coach at his alma mater of Toledo.
“Yeah, it was exciting. It’s a long time coming, and I thought it was exciting,” said Eberflus of his first game as a head coach. “I think that coaches did an outstanding job with the game-day operation, including the coordinators, being able to communicate with those guys with Getsy, with Alan, with Hightower.
“They did a really phenomenal job. We were all on the same page the entire day, when we were going for it, when we were punting, field goal, that whole operation.”