The Chicago Bears concluded their second preseason game Thursday night against the New England Patriots in much better fashion than they did the opener.
The first-team offense was impressive on its first two drives of the game, eating up a ton of clock (11:02 combined time of possession) and scoring 11 points, while only allowing one sack.
The first-team defense, which was without four projected starters, also did well, giving up just three points and forcing a turnover deep in their own red zone.
There was obvious progression tonight and it seems the Bears are indeed headed in the right direct, although depth is a clear concern.
WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery was dominant with the first-team offense, hauling in two catches on two targets for 41 yards.
His presence was felt all this week during joint practices with the Patriots and it clearly carried over to the game field.
Jeffery is poised for a big year and as long as he stays healthy, he's in line for a monstrous pay day next off-season.
TE Tony Moeaki
With Zach Miller (concussion) in street clothes, Moeaki took the majority of the first-team reps and caught all four balls thrown his way for a combined 28 receiving yards.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has been in search of his No. 2 two tight end all off-season and Moeaki continues to run away from the rest of the pack.
With Miller down, Moeaki took full advantage of his opportunity to further solidify his spot on the roster.
DL Keith Browner
Although Browner will only show up on the stat sheet with two tackles, he stood out on multiple occasions, especially near the goal line.
With Cornelius Washington nursing knee and ankle injuries, Browner had an extended look last night and did not disappoint. He had a tackle-for-loss on the Patriots first two-point conversion attempt and did most of the dirty work for the team’s second-string defensive line.
LB John Timu
Starting linebacker Danny Trevathan sat out the game with a hamstring injury, which offered extended playing time for the reserves.
Timu took advantage of the extra reps. He had six total tackles and a nice pass breakup in the red zone, which nearly went for a pick-six.
The second year undrafted free agent out of Washington has always been steady against the run but he's shown more versatility and overall development in coverage this preseason. Timu is a frontrunner for one of the final reserve spots on the 53-man roster.
OLB Sam Acho
With his job on the line, Acho has performed surprisingly well the opening two games. Against the Pats, he had multiple QB pressures, a quarterback hit, two tackles and half a sack.
Acho was around the quarterback the entire night. With the first four outside linebacker positions spoken for, Acho is in a battle with Christian Jones and Roy Robertson-Harris for the final OLB spot and has made a strong case for himself during the first two contests.
Honorable Mention: OLB Christian Jones (3 tackles, 1.5 sacks)
QB Brian Hoyer
After being signed earlier in the off-season, most Bears fans -- myself included -- thought Hoyer was the team’s best option to back up Jay Cutler.
Well, after tonight’s poor performance, it may be time to rethink that assumption.
Hoyer’s first pass was thrown straight to the defender for an interception, which quickly led to a New England touchdown. With Hoyer under center, the Bears went two full quarters before finally getting another first down, which came off the back of rookie running back Jordan Howard.
Hoyer finished the game 4-of-14 for 85 yards, yet 52 of those came on a short pass to Rob Housler, who gained most of his yards after the catch. If Hoyer continues to struggle, the team may give a closer looks to Connor Shaw, who went 4-of-6 for 42 yards, 1 TD and a 126.4 QB rating.
G Cody Whitehair
It was another rough game for the rookie Whitehair. He gave up the team’s only sack after a brutal missed block and just looks like a struggling first-year player out there.
While there were some improvements against the Pats, Whitehair still has a long way to go before becoming a dependable, starting-caliber NFL left guard.
DL Will Sutton
Sutton is currently fighting for a roster spot and he did not help his case in New England.
Sutton had two missed tackles, both of which would have gone for losses but he simply over-pursued and came away empty-handed, flailing on the ground as the runner blew by him.
Sutton finished the game with three tackles, including a nice effort on a goal-line stand, but continues to make more bad plays than good.
WR Deonte Thompson
Before leaving the field on a cart with what appeared to be a knee injury, Thompson did not look good as a receiver.
He was targeted four times and did not catch one pass. Two of those targets came on comeback routes in which he did not play through the ball, allowing the defender to breakup the pass.
While he provides value as the team’s primary kick returner, Thompson still does not have a guaranteed roster spot. If his injury is not serious, he will need to show more as a pass catcher over the next two games to secure his place on the final 53.
The Second- and Third-Team Secondary
It’s quickly becoming a stark reality that the Bears’ secondary lacks quality depth. With Kyle Fuller out “several weeks” after undergoing a knee scope, the team is scrambling to find starting quality players to fill up the roster.
De'Vante Bausby, Jacoby Glenn, Demontre Hurst and Deoindre’ Hall have all had their struggles and have not found any sort of consistency.
Against the Pats, the secondary gave up 268 passing yards, a cumulative 106 passer rating and a 74-percent completion percentage. That has to improve moving forward or all those upgrades to the defensive front seven will go for naught.