Image Credit: © Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
If ever there were a game to remind yourself, "it's only preseason," this was probably it. Call it the Trubisky revenge tour or whatever you want, but this was a preseason game that felt like anything but. To the contrast of our previous run happy game, Daboll came out firing, and the drastic difference between where the Bills and Bears are as programs was ever apparent. With that being said...
1 - Mitch - Trubisky had a really good game and showed well enough to give comfort to a lot of fans in case Allen should get hurt. However, as I watched him play, it made me appreciate just how great a talent Josh Allen is. Overall, Mitch played well. However, that's not to say there weren't opportunities in how he played. There were a few passes where the receiver had to adjust to the ball, which cost them a step and extra yards. Mitch got happy feet a few times and found ways to take unnecessary steps as he escaped the pocket. There was one play in particular where I wish Josh were on the field as I have zero doubt Allen would have delivered the throw on the run to a dot for the touchdown. Mitch did show off a strong arm and made quite a few passes in the flat to the sideline. Preseason or not, 200+ yards at the half is something to be proud of, especially in the team's stadium that didn't want you back.
2 - Motor - In another "it's only preseason" thought, it's hard for me not to think the starting running back job is Motor's to lose. While I understand that Moss is still hurt, Motor is making the most of every carry and is showing a burst to the outside that hasn't been seen since he got here. He's decisive, breaking arm tackles, and looks overall like a starting back. Also, kudos to Daboll for running many misdirection plays that delayed the linebackers just a step slow enough to give Motor a head start.
3 - Groot - Okay, I'm officially excited to see this kid play in the regular season. While I assume it's because he's now locked in as a starter, Rousseau played fewer snaps in this game than he did in the previous. Even so, Groot was an absolute monster pushing through the right tackle for the Bears and notched another sack. So far, technique has meant nothing to this kid because he's so powerful that he runs over people and can sack quarterbacks with just his hands. For my first painfully wrong prediction of the season, I see Groot getting ten sacks minimum this year.
4 - If you haven't seen the movie "Return to Paradise," I recommend looking it up. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, and Anne Heche. I don't remember if it was an independent film, but it didn't get much attention. The plot, acting, and ending are top-notch and guaranteed to hit you in the feels, as well as telling your friends about it. It's older, so you may have trouble finding it. If you do, I strongly recommend it.
5 - Epenesa - This is where many of us are about to disagree. Epenesa logged a lot of snaps in both preseason games so far, and I believe it's because the coaches still want to see more from him. Yes, he had a monster of a sack where he bull-rushed over the 3rd string left tackle and delivered a monster hit. However, I do not see Epenesa getting the same push against the starters or back-ups. He gets very close to the quarterback almost every time, but he can't quite finish. If the coaches were sold on him, I don't believe he'd be out there as much and into the second half. The same goes for my opinion of Obada, who had a very quiet game.
6 - McKenzie - I only wanted to see one thing from McKenzie this preseason, and that was solid hands in the punt return game. Unfortunately, he muffed a punt this game, and now I'm just waiting to see how long it takes to cost us in a real game. As a receiver, he was the main target for Mitch and made the most of his catches. However, as we know, there aren't going to be a lot of snaps for him at receiver, and he needs to looks punts into his hands before taking off.
7 - Haack - Speaking of Haack, he didn't get many opportunities in this game but did boot one off the side of his foot. His other punt was a beauty and pinned the Bears inside the 20, but I can already see the threads about bringing in some competition for him. Haack isn't going anywhere, and while I didn't like to see the miss, his track record in Miami indicates that's more of a fluke than anything else.
8 - Defensive Playcalling - The Bills ran a lot of single safety with extra coverage in the box. The Linebackers did a great job of staying close enough to the line to reach the rushing attack but jumped back in coverage quickly. It was the most aggressive defense I've seen Frazier call in recent games, and I hope it's a sign of things to come. I'm not sure if this was because Hyde and Poyer sat out or if they wanted to see how the DB's handled man coverage, but it led to many three-and-outs. Additionally, we didn't play contain when Fields was out there, which gave him a few free scrambles, but I don't believe we cared, honestly.
9 - Press Coverage - The Bears played a lot of press coverage, and I was happy to see the Bills receivers not be phased by it. Each receiver got off the line fast, ran slants or shallow crosses that didn't allow the defenders to initiate hard contact with them. Our speed was on display as there were YAC yards multiple times. Again, it's nice to see the coordinators try new things and be effective. I personally believe this team is going to be that much more effective with halftime adjustments as we are becoming so much more versatile in our schemes.
10 - Hollister - This is hard for me to say, but I believe Hollister should be given the starting job at TE. Knox had both a drop and a missed block in his limited action, while Hollister continues to be effective blocking, catching, and with surprising speed. He looks like a receiver in the open field and a match-up nightmare for some linebackers and cornerbacks. I'm sure Knox will continue to get the start, and we haven't see what Josh's rapport is with him (should be strong since they played together before), but I think Knox is on a short leash this year.
Bonus Question - The Play - After the first Motor touchdown, someone on the Bills made a monster tackle on the Bears kick returner the next play. Any idea who that was? There weren't any replays from the homer Bears broadcast.