This was the “dress rehearsal” for the Bears, with the starters playing into the third quarter. Unfortunately for Chicago fans, if the dress rehearsal is any indication, this could be a long season.
The first-team offense managed just three points, the first-team defense gave up three touchdowns drives and the team was tagged with 12 penalties for 117 yards. It was a lethargic, spiritless performance, one that harkened back to the third preseason game last season, a 33-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks that preceded a 5-11 campaign.
The offense was without its top four wide receivers, while LT Jermon Bushrod (back) was obviously nowhere near 100 percent, so their woes are partially justified.
Yet the performance of the defense was eerily similar to that of its 2013 and 2014 counterparts. Additionally, defensive linemen Eddie Goldman (concussion) and Jeremiah Ratliff (ankle) were knocked out of the game early.
While it’s far too early to cast judgment on a team undergoing significant change, tonight’s performance gave little hope to those expecting a quick turnaround.
The offensive woes were not the fault of Cutler, who finished 12-of-15 for 90 yards and no interceptions. Cutler was under pressure most snaps and was throwing to a group of borderline NFL wide receivers, yet he didn’t turn the ball over, which is a sign of progress.
Perry left the game late due to injury but he was a force on special teams. He had two quality open-field tackles in coverage and averaged 28.3 yards on three kick returns. More importantly, no one else returned a kick, meaning Perry has the job locked up. Assuming his injury isn’t serious – he was seen in a walking boot after the game – Perry has a spot on the 53-man roster waiting for him.
Houston had two sacks against the Cincinnati backups and looked like a starter playing with the second team. He’s obviously fully healed from ACL surgery and should be a productive member of the OLB rotation.
Foster was second on the team with four total tackles and a forced fumble. He’s still working with the second team but Foster is third on the ILB depth chart and is a quality option to have in the Bears’ back pocket.
Mitchell earned first-team reps tonight and made the most of them. A playmaker since OTAs, Mitchell finished the game with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He even added a special teams tackle. Mitchell has been a part of three turnovers the past three games, while showing the best coverage skills on the team. His performance tonight surely earned him a roster spot and possibly more time with the starters.
Umodu had a blocked punt, which he returned for a touchdown. Not that's how you go out in style.
For the second week in a row Leno failed to capitalize on an opportunity to secure the starting right tackle job. He was a turnstile as a run blocker and in pass protection, and picked up a holding penalty. Leno is not an NFL starting offensive lineman.
Porter gave up a deep pass to A.J. Green in the first half and then left the field with a hamstring injury. Porter did not play in the first two preseason contests due to injury and will likely be a cut casualty. It’s hard to justify a roster spot for a guy who can’t stay on the field.
Mills worked with the second team and allowed a sack, while picking up a holding penalty and a false start penalty. He’s not handling his demotion well.
McClellin was beat at least four times in coverage and could not get off his block on a play run right at him, resulting in a 26-yard scamper by Jeremy Hill. McClellin has earned his role as a starter but he’s clearly still a work in progress.
Jennings continues to struggle and was beat twice on big gains down the field. Worse than that, five other cornerbacks, including Mitchell, saw the field before Jennings, a two-time Pro Bowler who played well into the fourth quarter of a preseason game.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.