For the first time in two seasons, the Bears have a preseason game!
Normally, these games are met with some excitement for the first 30 minutes, then boredom for the final two and a half hours. But this year is no normal year, my frents. The Bears are debuting their most-hyped rookie quarterback in years, plus it's the first game at Soldier Field with fans in the stands since December 2019.
There will be good vibes aplenty on the lakefront when the Bears and Miami Dolphins square off at noon on Saturday. Here are a few things you should know about this very important (albeit still meaningless) preseason game.
1. Justin Fields will see a ton of action
If you're waiting to see when rookie quarterback Justin Fields will get his first action on Saturday (and honestly, who isn't at this point?) you won't be waiting long. Matt Nagy says Fields will take over for Andy Dalton after one or two series and will likely play past halftime. He may even get some time with the first-string offense.
"That could happen, I would like to see that happen." Nagy told the media on Thursday.
Fields has been reportedly lighting up the practice field as of late, with both Bears and Dolphins media members taking notice during the joint practice between the two teams on Thursday.
Though the practice reps have been great as of late for Fields, as Allen Iverson would say, "we're talking about practice." Now we get to witness game reps. It's easily the most anticipated preseason game in recent memory. Let's just hope Fields and all of the quarterbacks come away unscathed.
2. The offensive line is being held together with duct tape
While fans are giddy with excitement over seeing Fields, many are also worried about the protection he'll have when he drops back in the pocket. As one fan on Twitter puts it, they're "excited but also horrified."
A small annoyance at the beginning of camp has grown into a significant problem for the Bears over the last two weeks. Starting tackles Teven Jenkins (back) and Germain Ifedi (hip flexor) have not hit the practice field once. Meanwhile, starting guard James Daniels (quad) and reserve tackle Larry Borom (concussion) have been out for days since they suffered injuries during practice. Now, guard Alex Bars left practice on Thursday with a knee injury. Assuming he is out, the Bears will be extremely thin for Saturday's game, particularly at the tackle position.
There's a good chance Miami's front seven wreaks havoc against the Bears line all day long, making it difficult to evaluate Fields. After all, can you really give a fair grade to someone who is constantly running for their life when the ball is snapped? Hopefully we're not in store for a repeat of the Bears preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills 10 years ago when they allowed nine sacks.
3. The Bears defense has some swagger under Sean Desai
If you've been a spectator at one of the Bears training camp practices, you've certainly noticed the defense turning up the heat on the offense — then celebrating with props such as a turnover bucket. Players seem rejuvenated under first-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai, a welcome sight after they failed to meet expectations the last two seasons under Chuck Pagano.
It will be difficult to gauge the defense's performance as a whole during their first preseason game, as many players like Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Jackson will see limited playing time. But if the last two practices are any indication, Dolphins quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa, Jacoby Brissett, and Rein Sinnett may have their hands full. We'll see just how much Desai experiments with various coverages and blitz packages, but we can expect the defense to be ready to roll when at Soldier Field.
The big question is, will the turnover bucket make the trip as well?