What coach John Fox intended to serve as an unofficial fifth preseason “game” – about a dozen full-hitting plays for each of the three offensive and defensive units – revealed a Bears defense that is ahead of the offense, for the day anyhow, and perhaps a few other 2015 “indicators.”
The structure of the scrimmage/practice, in which only quarterbacks were not to be tackled, put the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense and No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense. The third-stringers on both offense and defense had each other. Typically in camp the No. 1’s are matched up with their corresponding 1’s, the 2’s vs. 2’s and so on. The change expands the matchups for purposes of evaluation.
The offense was without starting tailback Matt Forte and the defense without rush linebacker Pernell McPhee, both held out by coaches’ decision. But even without two of the projected linchpins on either side of the football, several strong impressions were possible coming off Saturday’s annual Family Fest practice in Soldier Field:
Coach Fox stated that the Bears would run the football and coordinator Adam Gase provided a solid indication that balanced football will indeed be the design.
The No. 1 offense ran 11 plays, wasn’t terribly effective overall (26 yards by unofficial count), but even without Forte, Gase ran the football on six of those snaps.
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Quarterback Jay Cutler threw five passes, completed only one (a 12-yard toss to wideout Eddie Royal after a Cutler rollout), and did not have Alshon Jeffery for the scrimmage. But Cutler continues to be interception/turnover-free in any 7-on-7 or “team” session this training camp. Reducing turnovers was THE focus of Gase and coaches this offseason and the significance of progress here cannot be overstated.
“We’re getting to know him, he’s getting to know us,” Fox said. “He’s worked at it hard on everything we’ve asked and we’ll just keep evaluating these game-type conditions.”
Running back “committee” forming
Jacquizz Rodgers, whose workload ramped up substantially through last week, is quietly building a case for himself as the No. 2 running back, leaving rookie Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey battling for a No. 3 spot.
Rodgers was handed the ball on two of the first three plays, and Langford, running with the No. 1’s, carried three times as well.
“[Rodgers] is a guy I’ve seen on tape, competed against him, great teammate, fine young man,” Fox said. “He’s built low to the ground [5-foot-6], does have power along with speed and quickness.”
Special teams is a tipping point for players not in starting units, and Langford was drafted in this year’s fourth round in part because of his prowess on special teams.