INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL is about matchups and the Indianapolis Colts are among the more difficult matchups the Bears could have drawn, preseason or otherwise. But it may at the same time be exactly what a still-forming team can use for all three phases of its game.
That was part of the perspective that the Bears took from their 27-10 game one win over the Miami Dolphins. Starters are expected to be played into the second quarter, ideally with more production that the No. 1’s delivered vs. the Dolphins.
“Every team has something to work on in the first preseason game,” said linebacker Christian Jones. “We need to make adjustments and do what we know to do.”
It will not be an easy process. The No. 1 offense is expected to have Matt Forte after the franchise running back was held out of the Miami game as coaches took an extended look at the options for his supporting cast. But Alshon Jeffery will be out again with a calf injury, Kevin White’s injured shin has him down until at the very least well into the regular season, and the Indianapolis game may be a preview of how the offense will have to function without the deep threat of White in the foreseeable future.
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“We've got to throw guys into game situations,” said coach John Fox. “We've had one game behind us, we learned some things and we adjust and move forward. It's a very fluid process. It's week-to-week.”
One specific goal will be a start that includes controlling the football for more than a handful of snaps on the first possession like the three-and-out vs. Miami.
“We got better from the first to the second drive [12 plays, 66 yards],” said tackle Jermon Bushrod. “We just need to start the way we know we’re capable of.”
The defense is starting another safety combination, this one with rookie Adrian Amos alongside Antrel Rolle. “[Amos] has been good, looks comfortable back there,” Rolle said. “There's a lot of communication between him and myself and we're only going to get better, that's the plan. He has an outstanding skills set, he hustles, he runs to the ball, he understands the defense and we're going to help each other. It's not only going to be me helping him, it's going to be him helping me, also.”
The safeties and defense overall will need to be a lot of helping against Andrew Luck and what was the NFL’s most prolific passing offense last season (306 yards per game). The Colts thought enough of wideout T.Y. Hilton to sign him last week to a five-year extension worth potentially $66.5 million, and enough of Luck in the passing offense to use their No. 1 pick on speed receiver Phillip Dorsett and acquire longtime Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson this offseason.
The defense struggled in the first of the two days practicing against Luck but recovered to respectability on day two, earning compliments from the Pro Bowl quarterback.
“Very impressed,” Luck said. “I was fortunate enough to play under Coach [Vic] Fangio for a year or two at Stanford, which was really fun. Great guy. I learned a lot from him even though he was a defensive coach. Some studs on the Bears: Pernell McPhee, Jared Allen coming off the edge, a bunch of guys. Tim Jennings, I always had a lot of respect for him as a player.”
Special teams allowed the Dolphins a 42-yard punt return and an average of 25.3 yards on three kickoff returns. Both the Bears offense and defense could use all the field position their special-teams units can provide.