DETROIT — In an overtime game in which virtually every play can be its own turning point, the Bears lost an interception and the Detroit Lions gained a touchdown in the second quarter when game officials ruled that the Bears had dislodged and intercepted the football from the hands of Lions receiver Golden Tate.
The pass, covering two yards from quarterback Matthew Stafford to Tate, was caught by Tate but nearly immediately popped loose by cornerback Kyle Fuller and taken out of the air by rookie linebacker Jonathan Anderson, making his first NFL start as the Bears adjusted for the loss of middle linebacker Shea McClellin.
The play was reviewed and reversed.
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“The receiver gained possession of the ball with two feet down, and he was standing upright,” said referee Walt Coleman via a pool reporter. “He wasn’t going to the ground; he was standing upright. Two feet down. Possession of the ball. Takes it one more step, and then the ball was stripped out.
“In the end zone, once you have the completed catch, it’s a touchdown. The play is over. He was standing upright. It wasn’t like he was going to the ground where he would have had to have held onto the ball. But he was standing upright. Completed the catch with the ball in the end zone — that makes it a touchdown.”
The result reversal put the Lions up, 21-13, at halftime and left the Bears befuddled.
“I don’t know what they were looking for,” said linebacker Pernell McPhee. “We’ve just got to not leave plays in the hands of the officials.”
Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21.
Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.
All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.
The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players.
The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.
The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.
Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons.
Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.
Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.
CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.
The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.
It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.
We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.