The Chicago Bears tonight moved to 1-0 in the preseason with a 34-28 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field. It was a game in which a number of players shined due to their strong performances, while others stood out for their struggles on the field.
With roster implications permeating every preseason game, every snap counts. With that in mind, here are five Bears players who helped their cause tonight and five players who took a step backward.
Miller served as the No. 2 tight end tonight, entering the game midway through the first quarter. On one of his first snaps of the game, Miller caught a red-zone touchdown in the back of the end zone between two defenders. In the second quarter, Miller again hit pay dirt on a 12-yard pass from Jordan Palmer.
For the game, Miller led the team with six receptions for 68 yards and two scores. He’s been solid in camp but his performance tonight has propelled him into the mix for Chicago’s backup TE position.
“He’s had a good camp,” Jay Cutler said after the game. “We just want to get him in games and see how he can do. Every time he’s had an opportunity he’s made a play. We just have to keep progressing him along. He has been a nice addition for the offense and we’re excited to use him more.”
Dante Rosario also played well, catching two balls for 28 yards and scoring on a two-point conversion, so Miller still has his work cut out for him. Yet if he can build on tonight’s performance, he’ll find a way onto the Bears 53-man roster.
Clausen was inserted to begin the second half and immediately made an impact working with the backups. He threw a 73-yard touchdown to Chris Williams on a beautiful pass deep down the right sideline, then tossed his second score to Michael Spurlock on a hitch route after Clausen extended the play with his legs.
In comparison to Jordan Palmer, Clausen displayed the much stronger arm. He was accurate and in control of the offense, finishing with a team-high passer rating of 134.6. Clausen has distinguished himself in camp as the best option to backup Jay Cutler and his performance tonight furthered his case.
Scott is battling for the club’s fourth defensive end spot and his performance tonight surely solidified his place on this year’s team. He applied pressure early and often, was strong against the run and played solid special teams. He didn’t have any game-changing plays – he finished with three total tackles and no sacks – yet Scott made an impact while on the field, showing his value as a backup pass rusher.
Williams did not return a punt or kick, which was surprising, yet he made up for it with his performance at wide receiver. Late in the third quarter, Williams lined up wide right and ran a go route. The defender got caught flatfooted and Williams, who has blazing speed, blew right past him. Clausen dropped in a gorgeous pass that Williams hauled in for the 73-yard score.
Willams, who is battling for one of Chicago’s final wide receiver spots, finished with two catches for 78 yards. He hurt his hamstring on the score, which is a concern, but if he’s able to recover quickly and build on tonight’s performance, he’ll find a role in Marc Trestman’s offense.
Mundy played very well in his first game wearing a Bears uniform, picking up an interception off Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles in the first quarter. He also had a hard tackle on special teams covering a kickoff.
The Bears need a consistent presence on the back end, one who is dependable against both the run and pass. Mundy tonight showed he’s capable of being that player.
McClellin nearly picked up a sack on his first blitz through the left B gap but, other than that, it was a rough night for the new linebacker. In man coverage, McClellin didn’t show any instincts and was slow to react. On one snap, Eagles TE Zach Ertz ran an out pattern and caught the ball before McClellin could even react and break forward on the pass.
Filling gaps, he did not demonstrate toughness or power, running around, and not through, most of his blocks. In essence, McClellin didn’t look like a linebacker tonight. That’s not to say he can’t develop into one but it’s clear now how much work is head of him.
Ford served as the backup kick returner but on offense, he didn’t see the field until the fourth quarter. Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn, Ka’Deem Carey and Senorise Perry all carried the ball before Ford, which goes to show how far he’s fallen down the depth chart.
Long was inserted at right guard with the second team. During his first snap, he was called for holding. On his next snap, he allowed a sack. A few plays later, Long was called for his second holding penalty.
In general, it was just an awful night for Long, who could be part of the team’s first wave of cuts if he continues to play at such a low level.
Coming into the game, the biggest question mark regarding Collins was his ability to anchor on a surgically repaired knee. Would he be able to hold up at the point of attack and plant on a knee that’s less than year removed from an ACL tear?
After watching Collins tonight, it’s clear he can’t use his right knee to stabilize his body. One snap, he was literally pushed 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Collins hasn’t lost his quickness or burst but he’ll be a turnstile against the run due to the knee.
Weems served as the club’s starting punt and kick returner, and appears to be in the lead for both roles. Yet he did very little with his opportunities, fair catching both of his punt returns and averaging just 22 yards on two kick returns.
Yet on offense, Weems really struggled. He was targeted twice on catchable balls but could not pull in either pass. Weems has looked good on offense during camp but it’s hard to have confidence in him as a potential replacement to Marquess Wilson based on his performance this evening.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.